The 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is amorphous--somewhere between a wagon, a minivan, and a crossover or SUV. And while that could be a positive in other segments of the market, the R-Class lands in a price class shoppers by image-conscious families--who might not know what to think of it.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz gave the R-Class a slightly more upright front end, with a higher, arrow-edged hoodline and a higher, more prominent grille that's now a lot closer in appearance to those used in the M-Class and GL-Class utes. It's flanked with flowing headlamps that, to this reviewer's eyes, look like they have eyelids and are a little more organic, while the rear fascia has been changed and tail lamps are lifted slightly.
Inside it's much better, with a familiar collection of big, clear gauges and wood trim that's clearly related to, but not identical to, the setups in the GL and ML utes. The dash is probably the most SUV-like feature of the R-Class, aside from its all-wheel-drive hardware. The optional Panorama sunroof remains a nice touch that lends a light, airy feel, and the cabin in general impresses as smartly dressed.