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Mercedes-Benz R-Class

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  • Hi again everyone!

    Merc- I don't feel that most luxury vehicles are "worth" their price. Most of our perception of "luxury" usually has a lot more to do with advertising and product image than real VALUE for the dollar. Of course the I recognize that the E-class, S class, and the 5 & 7 series BMW products are generally superior products compared to more plebian products. But are they worth DOUBLE or TRIPLE the prices of comparably sized vehicles- NO!

    The fact that we have been essentially hoodwinked by clever advertising and image makers to shell out massively larger bucks for these products in and of itself
    is not a kind of proof that there is any intrinsic value there. Believe me, virtually all the major German manufacturers could fairly easily produce & sell their vehicles for prices much closer to what we consider more moderate pricing. After all, once you get past the engineering, the cost of the materials to build these "luxury" vehicles is hardly much more than most convetional vehicles. Certainly not double or triple the cost.

    But, being a capitalist. I say more power to these German manufacturers- if they can charge what they want and get it- good for them. i would certainly do the same. After all, thousands of products today are sold on image alone for exorbitant prices.

    I just wanted to remind all you guys out there about the origin of the moniker-"SUV".

    SUV (Sport Utility Vehicles) - this term goes back to the introduction of the early 80's Chrysler minivans. Originally, the term SUV applied to any & all minivans, 4 wheel drives, etc. The term has wrongly evolved into a term describing All or 4 wheel drive vehicles exclusively. Check, you'll see I'm correct. Why is this an important point?

    Because "crossovers" is a term that is falsely behind the curve. The original Chrysler minivans were the first "crossover" vehicles way back in 1983, as they were derived and developed off the K-car chassis. What I am trying to get across is that ALL minivans, 4 wheel drives, and other permutations like the R Class are all actually in the same category. Sure you can pretend that the R-Class is NOT a minivan- but who determined that a minivan HAS to have sliding doors? After all, the Mazda MPV did not originally have sliding doors and it was still considered a minivan. (The MPV also waqs one of the first minivans to be offered in AWD).

    Right now, in Japan, the Honda Odyssey also has 4 conventionally opening doors. It's still a minivan though-right? Like the Pacifica & the R-class, it also seats six.

    The rules that have been mentioned in these postings don't really hold up in the ever changing world of automobile classification.

    Is the Toyota Highlander a 4 wheeler or a minivan?

    Is the Honda Pilot a 4 wheeler or a minivan?

    I would submit that both of those vehicles ARE minivans with clever packaging and advertising we are convinced they are tougher "SUV's".

    If they ever attempted to go off road, both of their undercarraiges and suspensions would quickly be mangled. Hardly what we think of when we think of today's perception of SUV's.

    Marc- you might want to one day, just in the interest of experimentation, take a test drive in a 2005-6 Honda Odyssey. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Not only is the Odyssey powerful (244 Hp), but it also is hardly a flabby handling vehicle, in fact its got pretty sharp handling and steering. The brakes are good, not outstanding, the standard equipment list is impressive, the interior and exterior fit & finish is almost up there with the Germans and the out-the-door price is amazingly low.

    Though I fully realize that test track numbers do not tell the whole story, especially when there a number of subjective issues about any vehicle cannot be quantified by numbers alone- but I would like to see the comparison of the performance statistics between an R 350 and a new Honda Odyssey. I would be willing to wager that they are amazingly close.

    Thanks for listening, guys
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Merc- I don't feel that most luxury vehicles are "worth" their price. Most of our perception of "luxury" usually has a lot more to do with advertising and product image than real VALUE for the dollar. Of course the I recognize that the E-class, S class, and the 5 & 7 series BMW products are generally superior products compared to more plebian products. But are they worth DOUBLE or TRIPLE the prices of comparably sized vehicles- NO!

    That says a lot. I'm on the table jumping up and down in disagreement with that.... :cry: A S-Class or 7-Series is easily worth double the price of any similarly sized "regular" car. ;)

    M
  • scott1256scott1256 Posts: 531
    I understand the emotion in a discussion about Mercedes. Some of us have a 30+ year frame of reference with MB. We are adjusting to a very changed company philosophy.

    Quality and feature differences between brands are much less evident now than even five years ago.

    The R does look like a minivan to most who see it. We will see how it sells.
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    My dealer(Chicago market) said that the response to the R-class has been luke warm at best. Not sure what anyone else has heard in other parts of the country.

    We can talk at length about the pros and cons and just where this vehicle fits in the ever-narrowing niches, but if this thing doesn't sell to the degree of MB's expectations it will have been a lot of effort for naught. It's here!!!! Just doesn't sound like too many were waiting for it... :(
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    The bottom line for a lot of people is that the R Class is simply not that good looking of a vehicle. Maybe not butt-ugly, but it's got no sex appeal at all for a 60-70 grand Mercedes. It's just sceams mini van (albeit a big one).

    Mercedes has lost some of their classy styling from the 80's & 90's, and their swoopy Cadillac/Chrysler esque designs have taken a lot of magic away from their product line.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Mercedes has lost some of their classy styling from the 80's & 90's, and their swoopy Cadillac/Chrysler esque designs have taken a lot of magic away from their product line.

    This may be true about their designs now compared to the 80's and 90's SL, E, S-Class etc., but I don't see a thing about a Mercedes that looks anywhere near as bad as the current smoothed over egg crate designs at Cadillac. Cadillac now makes the most unnattractive group of cars in their history. Hard edges and creases and random cut lines, nothing like any Mercedes. If there is any similarity between a Chyrsler and a Mercedes (which I don't see anyhere pas the Crossfire and 300) it is Chrysler that has begun to look like Mercedes, not the other way around...for obvious reasons.

    A Mercedes that looks like a Cadillac? No way in the world.

    A few negative reactions (posts) about the R's styling doesn't equate to a "lot of people" either, not even. Lets see how it sells and then you'll know what people think.

    M
  • albellalbell Posts: 185
    Also keep in mind that MB's stated sales target for the R is rather modest at about 30,000 units. That may be a bit much to reach in this energy environment, but I don't see that as being overly aggressive either.

    I finally saw one in the flesh at the showroom when I was in for service. It's big all right, but not as big as I expected. I thought it looked fine. Not tempted to trade my E wagon for it though, at least at sticker.... :)
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    I can't see these cars flying off the lot @ 60-70 grand. There's way too much competition in the market right now. And the magazine and press reviews of the R series haven't been that good. Not terrible, but luke-warm is the impression I get.

    The Caddy SRX is a goofy looking vehicle, IMO. But Caddy buyers are a different crowd, and the big 10,000 discounts help move cars off the lot.

    We'll see how the market reacts to the R series.
  • Just received the latest issue of Car& Driver and it contains a review of the R-500.

    Just as I had written (and had been criticised for) the article does a lot of comparing to Minivans & the Pacifica specifically.

    The article is largely favorable (except the sticker price $70K Merc?? where are you?) but the side bar, which contains alternate opinions from 3 different testers are all mostly negative. They all comment on the price (stratospheric) and the wisdom of this vehicle.

    The Test as usual contains bar graphs of similar vehicles in various categories of performance & price, and of course the Pacifica is one of the four compared vehicles. Considering the Pacifica is a 6 cylinder vs. a V-8 equipped R-500, the Pacifica aquits itself surprisingly well, and the differences in performance are relatively small considering the price difference. The handling numbers on the Pacifica were actually superior.

    Now I know test numbers are not the same as the actual driving experience, they do give you some sort of basis for comparison.

    Also the article makes many of my earlier points about the R Class being a high priced minivan.

    One other interesting article in the latest C & D is the comparo between the new Jeep Commander w/ a Hemi and the newly redone Ford Explorer. The reason I bring this article up is the interesting last few paragraphs of the test when C & D says that buyers who might consider these two vehicles (which C & D considered good but not great), a buyer might be better served considering a Honda Minivan which they considered superior in every way!

    Kinda what I said in earlier post! :P
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The Ford and Jeep comparo had nothing to do with the R500 test. They didn't say anything about no Honda in the R500 test so why try to link the two?

    You're right numbers don't give the full driving experience. The Pacifica's V6 is no where near as refined as Mercedes' V8 and next year the R500 will get a brand new state of the art 32V 382hp V8. The ongoing comparision to the Pacifica and how it "aquits" itself is beyond silly to me at this point. It isn't the same class of vehicle, not matter how close the "handling numbers" are. "The handling numbers"? What is that? People don't buy either one these vehicles for handling anyway.

    M
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    Hey Merc, you are really started to sound like a broken record. Have you ever driven an Odyssey? You know that Honda sells every one of these that they make and they don't play the discount game with them and they handle and cruise a lot better than you may expect and yes, people DO buy these for the handling. [I do not own an Odyssey]

    I will gentleman-bet you that the R-class will be either discounted or will be supported by lease incentives before February of '06. MB will have no choice as they will need to "move 'em out". Let's watch and see together.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Hey Chirp, you're chirping about the same thing, a minivan that has nothing to do with anything being discussed here. I couldn't care less what Honda sells or how they sell them. Who cares? I surely don't.

    You seem to think that I'm under the impression that R-Class is the end all of the people mover segment, well I don't think that. Secondly this tired theme about a even more tired Honda minivan is what I find to be in need of being turned over, as in the case of a broken record. The Honda was mentioned in a SUV comparo not in relation to the R-Class. Now if you think the Honda is superior so be it, but don't tell me about a broken record when this Honda keeps being mentioned by others in the wrong thread in the first place.

    M
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    We need more than one R-class owner in this discussion. I'd really like to know how this Sports-Tourer is being used from people who are buying them. Are they hauling people, TVs, stuff from IKEA? Going to soccer games, out to dinner, long trips? Maybe in the next few months we'll hear from them and learn more about the Sports-Tourer part of this thing and just what that means and why it's different than the other "multi-seat w/luggage carrying capacity" vehicles. Unfortunately, we don't really have anything familiar out on the road to compare it with short of the Pacifica. :D
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well that is true, but give it time. As always Mercedes does it first and the rest jump on. There will be something similar from Lexus and BMW in the coming years. I doubt if a person that is into serious hauling is going to spend 50-70K to do it. IMO the R is for couple who want to take other couples out in something a little different from the run of the mill SUV o minivan. Just what I think.

    M
  • Here's a response from a new R350 owner. The main driving force behind purchasing the R was to upgrade from a Pacifica that I had. The R gives me everything I wanted....that being the layout of the Pacifica plus the luxury and status of a Benz. Is the R unattractive....I remember I was one of the first Pacifica buyers and almost everyone thought it was bizarre looking. The R is a new body style like the Pacificia....I think of it as more "cutting edge". The best part of the styling is that it definitely looks different than anything else on the market and the badging is very "Benz". For those of you who never experienced the layout of a 2+2+2.....it is the perfect family car. Everyone gets their own seat and hauling six passengers is comfortable and easy in/out. What is a sports tourer????? I don't know, but I know I love this layout. I could have bought a very nice top line sedan, but for my family of four (2 teens) this suits me better. As far as power and handling....the 350 is very nice (I'm sure the 500 is even sweeter). The cabin is very refined and the driver...passenger and 2nd row seats are some of the best I've experienced. The third row has got to be the best around. Who will buy this car??? Turning radius is much better that a Pacifica.....the 7 speed trans is super smooth. What did Mercedes miss??? how about a back-up camera...how about rear heated seats standard...how about satellite radio standard.....overall, way too many options. One thing that nobody has mentioned is that the R will likely retain a higher residual value than anything similar from the big 3 (especially if MB does not give into deep discounting). Go ahead...compare it to a Pacifica.....but its still a Benz.
  • Hi Again everyone....

    Merc- You have an very interesting way of ignoring the main thrust of what people say on this forum.

    Essentially many of the posts (not only mine) have been pointing out that the R-Class is essentially a Minivan & in design & execution is most similar to the Pacifica (which is also a Daimler product, which you always conveniently forget).

    Because the R is a minivan (and again a minivan does not have to have sliding doors to be considered a minivan- witness the Odyssey in the rest of the world market) a number of posters pointed out that the Honda Odyssey sold here in the USA might be a somewhat worthy competitor to the R-Class, like it or not.

    In a kind of proof of the worthiness of the Odyssey, I thought it was interesting to point out that C & D in the middle of a test of 2 SUV's, took the timre to point out how good the Honda Odyssey was, and how it was a better choice than the 2 vehicles they were testing.

    Now Merc, you should write a letter to C & D to complain about how the staff of C & D has the nerve to bring in an unrelated vehicle by basis of comparison when they are testing SUVs?

    The point C & D is trying to make is that it has gotten ridiculous out there, that because of a soccer mom stigma & image problem, people are embarrassed to drive Minivans! How silly does it get? C & D goes on to point out that Odyssey still has room for some serious luggage hauling even with all 8 seats in use. While the Explorer, R-Class, Commander, & Pacifica have useless trunks when all seats are in use. You call that good design?

    So lets sum up- Odyssey powerful 244 hp V6, good handling, huge cargo capacity, huge number of seating arrangements, power sliding doors, leather interior, decent stereo + 6 cd changer nav & DVD out the door for the low 30's is quite a match for the mediocre equipped V6 R Class. But only for those who are individualistic & don't care what the others say.

    I would suggest reading both articles, Merc + the negative sidebars- then tell me what you think.

    And one more thing Merc- compare apples to apples- the V6 equipped Pacifica vs. the V6 equipped R350 not the V8 equipped R500.

    Questions for cane04: Are you SURE the turning radius for the R is smaller than the Pacifica? Not that its such an important issue, but I know the wheelbase of the R is significantly longer than the Pacifica, and very often longer wheelbases will cause bigger turning circles.

    What was the sticker on your R350?

    Did you buy or lease?

    The residual on the R350 for 3 years is about 64% which is pretty good, but is obviously a guess on the part of MB as this is a completely new model. There are quite a few vehicles in a number of price categories that have similar residuals.

    Remember also cane04, that despite the good residual (assuming you leased) the actual market value of a 3 yr old R has yet to be determined.

    Also a 64% residual on a 60K vehicle translates into a about a 22K drop in value over 3 years, but my guess that the R if bought new today at about 58-60K will be worth closer to about 28K as a trade-in after 36 months (assuming 12k miles a year). If I'm right, thats not terrible, but it's not great either.

    cane04, enjoy your new R, because after all, you only live once. :shades:
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    Both R and Pacifica look similar and both are from the same company. For most people on the street, if it looks and smells like a duck, it is a duck.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Tell you what, why don't you create a thread in which you can compare the R with whatever you like. On that thread maybe your point would be taken more seriously. I really don't like the R-Class like I do Mercedes' cars so I'm pretty much done with the b&f on it because if I'm ignoring your point, you keep trying to plaster it on the wrong board, where none of the few R-Class owners that have shown up so far don't really don't care enough to want to hear it.

    The R is not a minivan to me. So we'll have to agree to disagree there. If the R is similar in design and execution to a Pacifica (which it is) then it can't be a minivan because that would mean that Chrysler has two minivans in the same showroom. Doesn't make sense.

    Why would I write C&D about the Pacifica when they didn't nearly say the same things about it in relation to the R that you and others here have? It really isn't that big of a deal to me since I wouldn't want either vehicle. You're the one with this need to compare a Honda and Chrylser to the Mercedes (not C&D) and declare that the R is some type of ripoff, which is what you're implying.

    You talk about a fair comparo between the R350 and the Pacifica yet the roadtests I've seen so far are about the R500, and a loaded one at that. So why not take your own advice and wait until a R350 is tested and then do your comparo thing instead of calling the R500 overpriced when the Pac/Ody you're so crazy about don't compete with the R500 anyway.

    We've been over this time and time again about the Honda and Pac being a competitor to the R-Class. They're all part of the people mover segment so of course they are competitors in that sense, but that is where the similarities end for me. Neither of them is going to drive and/or have some of the different engineering/features of the R-Class. Do I think the R is worth up to 71K for a loaded R500? Nope. Do I think think a Honda minvan or a Pacifica is the same class of vehicle for far less money? Nope. Are they somewhere close or in between? Yes.

    M
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    I really don't know if the R Class is going to get anybody the "prestige" that a Benz is supposed to have. It might actually go in the other direction and have people scratching their heads to the logic in spending 70 grand on an Alabama made product that looks more like a domestic mini van than a premium grand touring machine. Part of the mystique of MB and other high end cars is a bit of sex appeal. A car that looks sophisticated and classy, as well as one that has a lot of presence to it. And the R class doesn't fit the bill. At least not to me.

    I think Audi's new Q7 is hands down on the best looking 7 passenger wagon/SUV vehicles in this segment. I'd rather spend my 60k there, but it'll have to wait until the springtime.
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    When I saw the price, I was amazed. I thought the R would only cost slight more than the Pacifica, like SLK slight more than Crossfire. Costing twice as much, forget about it. Beside, the S has more prestige and you can get one less than this people mover. MB made a big mistake in pricing this car and they now have another money-loser. Too bad.
  • markc5markc5 Posts: 19
    OK GUYS Owner of A R500 here. We just took our first road trip in the R. about 3.5 hours of driving time. Oh my gosh!!! It was great. I was a YUKON XL owner before this car and boy what a difference. There were 5 people in the car besides our luggage. We were all very comfortable and impressed with the ride of this machine. It literally floats on air(the car has 2 settings for the ride controlled by pneumatics). My one complaint is that we did have to fold one seat down to get all the luggage in for our 3 day trip. That is an area of weakness that I may have to address with some type of rack system for longer trips. But what a driving machine. Great power to get around the slow pokes. We received a bunch of compliments on the car. Multiple people stopped to ask us about the car and complimented the styling. The car got about 19-20 mpg on the highway. that was with a lead foot driving it. You can all say what you want but this one is a keeper. This ain't your dad's minivan folks. It was great pulling up at this swanky resort and the bellman opens the door and says "wow, this is the first one I have seen on the road and it is awesome" {I thought about this discussion room laughed to myself and I gave him an extra 5 bucks for that} :shades:
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    "Both R and Pacifica look similar and both are from the same company. For most people on the street, if it looks and smells like a duck, it is a duck. "

    Yea... like saying the Aston Martin DB9 (Ford PAG) and Mustang are coupes from the same company, so they must both be "ducks" :)
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    Nice report. That's the stuff I like to hear and it sounds like you are indeed the target market for the R-class. Although, I'm having trouble with the styling, I have grown to like the majority of most recent MB styling changes as they have become more "sporty" and less "geriatric" over the recent years. If you get a roof carrier makes sure to get a Yakima rocket-box or something sleek to go with the style and please no SEARS carrier!!!!! Ha!

    Continue to enjoy it and let us know if you encounter any mechanical problems or otherwise. My C32 is now going in for an air pump. This car has had lots of issues and it only has 20,000 miles on it. Oh well... :(
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yeah that is amazing isn't it. Sounds like to me from that post one is under the impression that the SLK and Crossfire are the same car too. Oh well.

    M
  • As an owner of both a 2000 ML 430 (with seven seats) and a 2005 Honda Odyssey (with 8 seats), I was eagerly looking forward to the R class as a "minivan substitute". After checking it out in person when I took the M in for service a couple of weeks ago, I am sorry to say that there is no way I could switch out of the Odyssey for the R. My M seats 7 (with kids in the third row), my Odyssey seats 8, and the R seats 6, with very little luggage room left over.

    I guess with three kids and occassional visiting in-laws (so that we need 7 seats when we all go out together) my family is definitely NOT in the target demographic for the R class. I like the looks of it and I am sure it functions very well, but it forces too much of a compromise for families like ours.

    If it had at least 7 seats, and a deep well behind the third row like the Odyssey for storage, then it would be almost a no-brainer for me. There is NOTHING wrong in wanting the R as a minivan substitute -- but the Odyssey still rules from that perspective and the R is kind of neither here nor there. Just my opinion.
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    'scuse me, did you say the "O" word? :)
  • markc5markc5 Posts: 19
    I really do wish the comparisons to a minivan would stop. This car is so different from a minivan it isn't funny. We NEVER considered buying a minivan. What a difference in performance and styling. Sure an Odyssy will pack more storage for people and luggage. However, you give up space for more sleek styling. But I will tell you that my R class does't have much less trunk space than my Ford Expedition did behind the third row which was why I bought a YUKON XL to begin with. Then I figured out that the only time I missed the space was on road trips 4 or 5 times a year. The rest of the time we used the extra space to store junk. AGAIN AN R-CLASS IS NOT A MINIVAN!!!! This is with out a doubt a performance touring vehicle trust me.
  • rjlaerorjlaero Posts: 659
    Allright, we'll give in. It's a MAXI-van
  • Hi again guys!

    Thanks to chirp & rjlaero, we've got some HUMOR injected here!

    (Sorely needed)

    Just a couple of thoughts.......

    Marc, The problem with your comparing the trunk space of an Expedition to the R is that the Ford can handle 5 passengers and still maintain enormous trunk space.

    Comparing the Yukon XL to the R doesn't work vis a vis trunk space in that in the stretch Yukon, there is still substantial luggage space behind the 3rd row with all seats occupied.

    The R only compares directly with the Pacifica (don't shoot me) in that both vehicles only seat 6 and even with just 5 passengers aboard, there is relatively little luggage space. 5 passengers in just about any other vehicle in this category would still allow ample luggage space.

    Marc, I'll ask again- have you ever driven an (oh no, he's going to say it)Odyssey?

    Why? You claim the R is a "performance touring vehicle" (sounds suspiciously like MB's ad campaign for the R), but does it out-perform (oh no, he's going to say it) the Odyssey? (The R-350 of course).

    And what is so terrible about being compared to (oh no, he's going to say it again) a Minivan?

    When did the (oh no, he's going say it a 4th time) Minivan become persona non grata in our lives?

    Isn't it all just a bit silly? :blush:
  • markc5markc5 Posts: 19
    Dear shellymeister I am officially waving the white flag on this issue I am 40 years old with 3 kids and the thought of driving dare "I" say a minivan makes me nauseated (When I would rather be driving a 911) I was very excited to see this minivan alternative by MB. My R500 does definately outperform the "O" word minivan. Again we needed a car like this where the kids can spread out more in individual seats rather than benches like in the expedition. Obviously you must not have children because if so you would understand the phrase "DADDY HE'S TOUCHING ME!!!!" :D We don't have that problem in the R. Hence the reason to have a third row. You must admitt that the average minivan is not a sexy alternative to those with families who are trying to maintain some of the "testosterone" from the good 'ole days. So in conclusion you win I give up I should swallow my pride purchase a minivan and look forward to my empty nest days all the while saying to my wife in the words of my back seat occupants on long road trips "ARE WE THERE YET.......ARE WE THERE YET"!!!! LOL :P
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