Two engines give the 2010 R-Class nearly identical performance numbers, save for the very important number from the EPA: fuel economy.
For 2010, two R-Class models wear the alphanumeric R350 tag-despite the fact that the diesel version displaces just 3.0 liters. The diesel turns the R-Class into a very practical utility vehicle; it's as smooth as modern diesels get, and though its output is rated at just 210 horsepower, its big torque figure of 400 pound-feet gets channeled through a seven-speed automatic and an all-wheel-drive system for relatively swift acceleration, all-weather grip, and a wallet-friendly 18/24 mpg fuel economy rating.
The gas-powered 3.5-liter V-6 puts out 268 hp through the same transmission and AWD system, giving the R-Class a little more straight-line performance while cutting fuel economy to 14/19 mpg. Mercedes estimates either version takes about 8 seconds to cruise to 60 mph from a full stop.
The R-Class' gearbox is a smooth operator, and it offers a manual-shift mode-but we're not sure many drivers ever will use it. The R-Class' 5,000-pound body and sluggish steering will smother most attempts at brisk driving on curvy roads, even if the powerful brakes can keep up their end of the bargain. The R-Class' air suspension damps most bumps out of touch, though like the GL-Class SUV, its roll control is so tight passengers will feel more head toss than in a softly sprung Cadillac Escalade.
Both 2010 R350 crossovers will tow 3,500 pounds with an optional hitch.
Edmunds: diesel "really lunges forward once the Bluetec is on boil"
ConsumerGuide: diesel "suffers brief turbo lag, then accelerates quickly"
Kelley Blue Book: "seamless shifts, always finding just the right gear when needed"
Cars.com: "steering feels just right for this new class of car"
ConsumerGuide: "acts more like a station wagon than an SUV"
ConsumerGuide: "the steering is impressively linear and accurate, though some drivers may prefer a weightier feel"