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.
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.