The good news about the R-Class handling is that it’s crossover-like. In other words, it handles more like a car, not like an SUV. There is a bit of lean in turns, but nothing to cause concern. Compared to a minivan, with which it’s often cross-shopped, the R-Class is stable and composed on the road. That’s what it’s designed to be. You won’t mistake it for a sporty vehicle, but it more than gets the job done.
There’s also an AIRMATIC air suspension system available as a special-order option.
Luxury on the inside
It’s a Mercedes-Benz, so you expect the interior to be luxurious – and it is. Okay, it’s not as richly-appointed as S-Class or E-Class, but it’s very upscale, and totally Mercedes-Benz. Standard seat upholstery is faux leather (real leather is optional, as are two-tone seats). Also standard are burl walnut trim, and new attractive gauges that resemble a watch-face. Want to see the moon, stars, or sun? A panoramic sunroof is another option.
What’s a family hauler without entertainment goodies? The 2011 R-Class features the standard COMAND system with an in-dash six-disc CD/DVD changer and 6.5-inch high resolution color display. The R-Class also has available hard-drive-based navigation system that holds up to 4GB of music files, an iPod interface, and Sirius Satellite Radio.
Also optional: A harman/kardon 7.1 surround system, and two rear-seat 8.0-inch DVD screens in the backs of front headrests, DVD player, and two wireless headsets.
In a family vehicle, you want as much safety as possible. Eight airbags and crash-responsive head restraints are standard in the 2011 R-Class. PRE-SAFE and POST-SAFE system technology provides predictive occupant protection before and after a crash.
New for 2011 is the Blind Spot Assist system. It monitors the sides of the vehicle and warns the driver if vehicles are in the blind spot. The warning comes via lights in the side mirrors. Should the driver signal a lane change when another vehicle is already in the lane, the system sounds an audible warning.
Two other standalone safety options are Parktronic, which sends audible signals and illuminated displays to aid in parking, and a rearview camera.
Bottom line: if you’re willing to spend the extra cash to get a luxury people hauler that drives like a crossover and features plenty of utility – and carries the prestigious Mercedes-Benz name, maybe the 2011 R-Class is for you. Definitely put it on your test-drive list.
For more information including photos, specs and pricing, steer over to our flagship reviews site, TheCarConnection, and its 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class page.