2012 Mercedes-Benz R Class Performance

7.0
Performance

At 5,000-pounds-plus, the R-Class simply isn't all that exciting to drive, but it handles in a secure manner, with less pitching than taller or shorter SUVs, and performs well.

The steering is probably the low point of the experience; it 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 R-Class performs well in either guise, but we love the strong, relaxed demeanor of the Bluetec diesel.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class comes in two different models, each with its own powertrain. The R350 comes with a new 302-horsepower, direct-injected V-6 gasoline engine, while a 210-hp, 3.2-liter turbo-diesel V-6 is carried over in the R350 Bluetec.

Even though the new R350 Bluetec feels considerably stronger than before--and somewhat better on gas--we think that the Bluetec model is the way to go unless you detest diesels. The engine in the Bluetec model is clean and economical, with only a little diesel clatter when starting out. Plus, it has a strong, relaxed feel, and because of its 400 pound-feet of torque, it's not at all flustered by hills or full loads.

In either case, the seven-speed automatic transmission churns through the gears smoothly, and 4Matic all-wheel drive provides all-weather reassurance. As we hinted above, the transmission needs to do a little more work with the gasoline engine, but it's up to the task.

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