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2012 Mercedes-Benz R Class Comfort & Quality

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If you need to accommodate several adult passengers in comfort--or even if you seek a more luxurious alternative to a minivan--the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a great pick.

In layout, accommodations, and interior details, the R-Class has an excellent combination of attributes for passing the miles in luxury. Those very long back doors allow easy access to the third row of this six- or seven-seater, and the standard arrangement in three rows of two bucket seats (with a middle seat available for the second row) makes sure everyone’s taken care of. In the second row, you can slide the seats fore and aft several inches so as to divvy out legroom--especially as it can be scarce in the third row if you happen to have the second all the way back. Nevertheless, the second-row seats flip up The rearmost row is a little smaller, a little flatter, but it’s no punishment as there’s still enough headroom (even, barely, for this 6’-6” beanpole).

For passing the miles in luxury, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a top pick.

Whether you're in front or in the second row, you get great seats; but the R-Class isn't quite as good as a minivan--or many crossovers--for cargo. While they fold to a mostly-flat position, they don't actually fold into the floor. Also, folding the seats is a daunting, multistep operation (involving nudging the front seat forward, and removing the rear headrests) that in no way, as in many competitors, can be done with one arm still holding onto a kid or a stroller.

Unfortunately, those huge rear doors will still be a handicap for those who live in tighter city spaces. With rather stiff action, they require a lot of effort for kids, and you might not be able to open them up all the way except in your driveway.

The 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 R-Class, it maintained a feeling of composure and solidity.

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