By KBB.com Editors
Is it an SUV? Is it a really large station wagon? Is it, well, a minivan? Though the exterior styling of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is hard to define, this is a vehicle better judged from the inside out. If you find what you desire on the inside, the exterior can be easily justified. Dubbed a "sports tourer," Mercedes believes the R-Class has what upscale families need: Luxury, space, utility and performance. The R-Class includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, an all-wheel-drive option and a choice of gasoline or diesel engines. Other stand-out attributes include its remarkably spacious and feature-rich seating for six people and so much cargo space it bests the huge Cadillac Escalade.
If your need for utility is equal to your need for luxury and the thought of driving a vehicle that may be perceived (well, perhaps) as a minivan doesn't bother you, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a vehicle you will want to check out.
If you don't require spacious seating for at least four people on a regular basis with plenty of additional cargo, the R-Class is too much car for you. It's big!
The R350 is now available with two-wheel or all-wheel drive. All models offer a three-person second-row bench seat, AMG body styling and 18-inch wheels. The R500 and R63 AMG are discontinued.
Driving Impressions The 3.5-liter V6 powering the R350 partnered with Mercedes' full-time all-wheel-drive system and seven-speed automatic transmission creates a pleasant, but not spirited driving experience. The R320 CDI actually feels quicker,...no surprise given its abundance of low-end torque. We found that even on winding roads, the R-Class smoothly carved through the turns and the seven-speed transmission delivered seamless shifts, always finding just the right gear when needed. Like many Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the R-Class has both Sport and Comfort suspension settings, and we found the Sport setting quite pleasing and agile. Stopping this heavy vehicle is also no problem with its 13.8-inch front brake rotors and standard ABS and Brake Assist features. The R-Class also has an excellent turning ratio, making it even easier to maneuver than many SUVs.
Second-Row "Captain's Chair" Seating
We are quite fond of the second-row seat comfort and space. This is one car that makes the back-seat riders as lucky as those in the front.
It's nearly six feet of glass, making the back-seat passengers feel much less "trapped" than in any other vehicle we know.
The interior of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class feels more like a family room than a car. Especially when outfitted with the panoramic sunroof that spans nearly the entire length of the vehicle, the interior space of the R-Class looks and feels downright cavernous. The base vehicle is loaded with eight-way power front seats, bird's-eye maple interior trim and fold-flat second and third-row seats. The R-Class' second row of seats features items usually found only in the first row: Individual seat adjustments, reading lights, armrests, air vents, cup holders, middle console and available iPod integration or dual-screen DVD player.Exterior
The R-Class's windshield and hood are raked steeply, kind of like a minivan. There is method to this van-like madness however -- it improves the aerodynamics of this heavy, 4,845-pound vehicle. The profile is long and sloping, with a slightly "chopped-top" retro appearance, somewhat reminiscent of the Dodge Magnum wagon. As you see the vehicle coming down the road, you may think it's a minivan or an SUV, but there's one thing of which you will have no doubt: With its prominent grille and nameplate branding you'll know it's a Mercedes-Benz.
Key standard equipment includes the seven-speed automatic transmission, electronic traction system, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. For safety, Mercedes-Benz supplies each R-Class trim with anti-lock brakes (ABS), ESP stability control, a rollover sensor, front, door-mounted and side-curtain airbags for each of the three rows, seatbelt pretensioners with belt-force limiters, tire-pressure monitoring system and automatic anti-theft alarm. Other standard luxury equipment includes power front seats, easy fold-down second- and third-row seats, eight-speaker audio system with auxiliary audio input and a retractable cargo cover.
Options abound on the R-Class. A Sport Package includes 19-inch wheels, while the R320 has a fuel-efficient diesel engine and all-wheel drive. Other options include bi-xenon curve-illuminating headlights, harman/kardon Logic 7 audio system with six-disc CD changer, rear-seat entertainment system, power glass sunroof, power panoramic sunroof, power rear-quarter windows, Keyless Go starting system, satellite radio, power liftgate, navigation system, multi-contour seats, heated front seats, Distronic radar-based cruise control, rear sunshade, heated second-row seats, auto dimming mirrors, wood-and-leather multi-function steering wheel and iPod integration kit.
The R350's V6 is generally adequate but might be less spirited dealing with a loaded vehicle and a steep uphill climb. If you're not deterred by the thought of owning a diesel, the R320 CDI's turbocharged V6 diesel engine provides great acceleration and superior fuel economy.
268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb. - ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 15/19 (4WD)
3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel
215 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
398 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2400
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24
By Jack on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great for long road trips."
Cons: "Spare tire is an inflatable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Since the R-class styling was not very popular, I felt I got a lot of car for my money, especially since I very much like the practical, aerodynamic style. I had one $800 repair in 3 years. The interior is sedate, comfortable, and very quiet. The car handles well, and gets up to 30 mpg cruising at 75."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Shockster on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 88,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"This is my first Mercedes, and I love it, but was amazed at how much work was required. When I bought it at 60,000.00 miles it immediately needed shocks, suspension air bags, and new rack and pinion. Also the mechanical opener for the hatch had to be replaced. The seats are a pain to adjust for the cargo space."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Bear on Tuesday, April 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the vehicle"
Cons: "Love it, but do not trust the servicing dealer."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Exactly what I require, however, my servicing dealer's maint personnel have not performed some very elemental repairs, in OKC. The vehicle has been in for service for the same thing 4 times. The service has never been correctly performed. It is in for service at this time and am dealing with a different service person. Hopefully will be satisfactory."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By Dixiegirl on Thursday, February 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Ride, amenities, cargo space, interior"
Cons: "Poor quality, expensive to repair, unreliable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is a great layout for a family car. It rides like a dream, and with all of the seats folded down, there's little that can't be carried in it. If I could keep the build, and replace everything mechanical about it, I would. At only 65K on a babied, well-maintained car, I have had to replace both rear air struts within 6 months of each other (approx $700 each). Also, the manifold is currently being replaced due to a bad flap ($1600 total repair). The tailgate back sensor has never worked properly, nor have the parking sensors (they go off randomly when driving down the road). I am now being told that the thermostat and cam sensors need to be replaced as well. Even with the car paid off, the repairs are no longer worth keeping the vehicle, which is a real shame. I love the R-Class body, and it is amazing in so many other ways. But it is the most unreliable car I have ever owned."
16 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Johnny on Friday, January 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Huge interior. Luxury finish. Fast acceleration !"
Cons: "Low MPG. Dealer service rates are high."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have had my 206 R500 for 6 years and it has been a very reliable car. Only issue was rear air shocks. Great fun in sport mode. Lousy MPG, but expected. Dealer service prices are a joke but local shops servicing MBs are very reasonable. Interior room is outstanding. Good build and finish. Because of the loaf shape of the car, estimating your front and rear points is difficult when parking. I spent $250 on an aftermarket park assist system and it was well worth it!"
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Jayme on Thursday, January 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cargo space, comfortability and appearance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I had my mercedes R350 for 3 years now and I have enjoyed it thus far. I had to replace the air shocks, but other than that I have not had any problems with the car. When I replaced the air shocks I found the part online, which was cost efficient compared to the dealership. They cost $300 for the pair!"
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful