KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 5/26/2011
For 2011 the Mercedes-Benz R-Class crossover utility vehicle has been given a fresh new face, the same sophisticated fascia that's shared with many of the manufacturer's other models. While the change may seem small, the alteration has given the R-Class a more unified look. Potential buyers may still be left scratching their heads over exactly what to call the R-Class, but the "sport tourer" offers plenty of passenger and cargo capacity for families who want a more luxurious way to get around town. The R-Class includes a seven-speed automatic transmission, standard all-wheel-drive and a choice of gasoline or diesel engines. Unsurprisingly, it's rather spacious inside, with feature-rich seating for six people and so much cargo space it bests the huge Cadillac Escalade.
You'll Like This Car If...
If you can't quite stand the thought of owning a minivan but require an abundance of space and functionality, the R-Class is a winner. The interior offers three rows of luxury seating and a BlueTEC diesel engine option delivers impressive fuel economy without a power penalty.
You May Not Like This Car If...
Make no mistake, this is a huge vehicle. If you don't find yourself playing chauffer to the neighborhood on a regular basis, something smaller may be a better option. Navigating tight city streets or jousting in cramped parking lots can be difficult at best.
What's Significant About This Car?
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class has an entirely new front-end, complete with fresh fenders, a new hood and a redesigned front fascia. The look borrows heavily from the German automaker's new design language and the big people-mover wears it well.
The 3.5-liter V6 powering the R350 is partnered with a full-time all-wheel-drive system and a seven-speed automatic transmission to create a pleasant, but not spirited, driving experience. The R350 BlueTEC actually feels quicker, which is no surprise given the engine's abundance of low-end torque. We found that even on winding roads the R-Class smoothly carved through the turns while the seven-speed transmission delivered seamless shifts, with the shift logic 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 big 13.8-inch front brake rotors and standard ABS and Brake Assist features. The R-Class also has an excellent turning radius, making it even easier to maneuver than many SUVs.
Second-Row Captain's Chair Seating
The comfortable second-row seats in the 2011 R-Class offer nearly as much room and comfort as those in the front, providing rear passengers a comfortable riding experience that's nearly unsurpassed.
Mercedes-Benz has made the R-Class available with a panoramic sunroof that stretches over six feet. The option does much to help passengers feel less trapped in the second and third rows.
What the 2011 R-Class gives up in functionality by opting for traditional hinged doors instead of the sliders of a minivan it more than makes up for in interior comfort. When equipped with the optional panoramic sunroof, the cabin feels more open and spacious than any of its competitors. Attractive maple interior trim and available third-row seats make the R-class as functional as it is attractive inside. Rear-seat passengers are treated to individual seat adjustments, cup holders, a middle console and an optional dual-screen DVD player.
Thanks to the new nose job, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class has developed a much more mature presence. Though the body remains identical to its 2010 predecessor from the front-doors rearward, the vehicle now looks as if it belongs in the Mercedes-Benz stable. An expressive, upright grille dominates the front fascia while wrapped projector lights give it a healthy dose of personality. Though the rear half of the R-Class still holds its awkward proportions, stylized body strakes and arching-rear glass give the illusion of an athletic shape.
Notable Standard Equipment
Mercedes-Benz has equipped the 2011 R-Class with a long list of standard equipment, including the company's excellent 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. A power sunroof and dual-zone climate controls also make the list, as do stylish 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, look for Bluetooth hands-free calling, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat and an in-dash CD changer connected to an eight-speaker audio system.
Notable Optional Equipment
Though the standard-equipment list is lengthy, Mercedes-Benz also offers a substantial number of options. Those hungry for a little more style may chose 20-inch wheels while the tech-hungry can select gadgets like a harman/kardon LOGIC7 sound system, dual eight-inch LCD screens for the rear passengers, the keyless starting system and hard-drive-based navigation. In addition, the 2011 R-Class is available with a panoramic sunroof and tri-zone automatic climate controls. Diesel buyers may also opt for rear air suspension.
Under the Hood
The R350's gasoline 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 R350 BlueTEC'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: 15/19
3.0-liter V6 Turbodiesel
210 horsepower @ 3400 rpm
400 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600-2400
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz R350's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts a little over $51,000, while the diesel-powered R350 BlueTEC is closer to $53,000. When fully loaded, the 2011 R-Class tops out around $65,000, though both versions are well-equipped in standard trim. The prices that consumers are actually paying can differ substantially, so check our Fair Purchase Price to compare. Since there are really no other vehicles in this segment and class, you might want to compare the R-Class price to a large SUV like the Lexus GX 460, which comes with a V8 only and starts around $53,000. As for resale, the R-Class does not hold up as well as its stable mates the M-Class and GL-Class, although the diesel version does do better than its gasoline counterpart.