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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
In diesel dress, the epic 400 lb-ft of torque makes up for any horsepower shortcoming, and the crossover easily builds speed as a result.
Throttle response is languid, and the hills of northern Westchester County often had the transmission calling for more than one downshift to maintain speed.
For as long and as heavy as it is, the R-Class is a solid handler.
the highly refined oil-burner makes a strong case for consideration by anyone more interested in long-distance running
Kelley Blue Book
R-Class acts more like a station wagon than an SUV. The steering is impressively linear and accurate, though some drivers may prefer a weightier feel.
The 2011 Mercedes R-Class still comes in two models for the
United States: an R350, with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter gasoline V-6, and the R350
BlueTEC, with a 210-hp, 3.2-liter turbo-diesel V-6. Of the two, the BlueTEC is
the way to go for all but those who absolutely detest diesels. It’s clean and
economical, and only when just starting from a stop do you momentarily hear the
customary diesel clatter. With 400 pound-feet of torque (compared to only 258 lb-ft
for the V-6), the diesel model has a strong, refined, relaxed feel and isn’t
flustered by hills or full loads, where V-6 models need to downshift more
You'll likely get about 5 mpg more with the Mercedes-Benz
R350 BlueTEC (EPA 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway) than with the gasoline R350
(14/19 mpg). We averaged nearly 23 mpg in about 70 miles of driving in mixed
conditions with the diesel, then just over 18 mpg over about 100 miles with the
Whichever the model, the seven-speed automatic transmission
churns through the gears smoothly, and 4Matic all-wheel drive provides
You won’t find the 5,000-pound-plus R-Class exciting to
drive, but it handles in a secure manner, with less pitching than taller or
shorter SUVs. The steering has no real feel of the road and an unnecessarily
hefty sensation at parking speeds, though especially in gasoline versions it’s
weighted nicely for highway ramps and back-road corners.
The 2011 R-Class’s ride is creamy yet firm, and soaks up
jittery back-road surfaces with aplomb. Even over the potholes and crumbled
sections that are all too common in the New York City metro area, where we
first drove the 2011 R-Class, it maintained a feeling of composure and
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class has safe and secure handling, and either powertrain gives it enough performance, but it's far from nimble. Diesel fans rejoice, as the BlueTEC model feels stronger in everyday driving, as well as more fuel-efficient.