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Mercedes-Benz R-Class Test Drive: What Did You Think?

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,870
edited March 14 in Mercedes-Benz
Post your test drive reviews of the R-Class here.

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  • mscmsc Posts: 5
    Last night, I got to have a short test drive in a production R500. I have been holding off on a new family hauler for this car to be released.

    Aesthetics
    The car is breathtakingly gorgeous. Fit and finish are perfect. The car is MB solid. Shifter is now on a stalk to the right of the wheel, and is very simple and intuitive. Dash is well designed, and AC controls are intuitive. Didn't get into fiddling with the stereo much. HUGE sunroof, occupies almost the whole length-- very impressive and adds a very light, airy feel to the car, and has a power shade. I don't think it actually opens, but does tilt up where it is split transversely for venting. Second row seating is simply capacious, even with front seat adjusted for 6ft+ driver. LCD screens in back of each front headrest. Third seat is also very comfortable, with plenty of legroom even for adults: the floor is a little higher in this row, so an adult's legs are above horizontal: probably uncomfortable for long car trips unless you are a kid. The third seat is very easy to get into, even for adults. There is a small space behind the third row seats, more than enough for a sizeable grocery store run, or a couple of large duffel bags.

    Driving.
    Acceleration is butter smooth, and effortless. Handling is secure but not particularly nimble. The seating position doesn't look that high, but I felt about as far off the ground as in an new M class: perhaps the long hood adds to this sensation. Brakes: linear and stupendous, easy to modulate. Air suspension keeps the car dead flat in long sweepers, but takes a fraction of a second to react: so, abrupt steering inputs are met with a sort of "bounce" feeling, as the car straightens back up.

    Summary: awesome family hauler. Beautiful proportions and finishes. Infallible and safe handling dynamics, but not nimble. Best third row seating of any wagon or SUV, at least as good as most minivans. I cannot imagine anyone having a significant complaint about any aspect of this car.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Last night, I got to have a short test drive in a production R500.

    How did you manage that? Any word on price? I know they said under 50K for the R350, which usually means 49.9K.

    M
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    You can probably use the usual formula for the non-halo cars - $6 to $8 grand for the bigger motor and extra bits.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Have you seen any SLK280s your way yet?

    M
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,963
    Lucky guy. I think I am holding out for the R320 CDI, when and if it makes it to America! With German delivery.

    http://www.germancarfans.com/photos.cfm/photoid/3050323.004/mercedes/1.html
  • mscmsc Posts: 5
    How did you manage that? Any word on price?

    i have a friend who is an executive at MB in Tuscaloosa. The car I drove had essentially every option: panoramic sunroof, keyless entry/start, entertainment, navi, air suspension (?standard on r500?), parking distance thingy, active cruise. We didn't discuss price specifics, but the car I drove would be more than $60K. My understanding that a "typical" r350 will be mid $50K, so i would guess that $49.9K sounds about right for the base sticker.
  • mscmsc Posts: 5
    Lucky guy. I think I am holding out for the R320 CDI, when and if it makes it to America! With German delivery.

    You can't get an M class european delivery. Now, i believe you can take factory delivery of a mercedes here in Tuscaloosa, and you can drive it around their off-road proving ground a little.

    I don't know if they will make these new M's and R's in Europe still, but I do know that there were diesel M classes made here that were only for European use-- we would see them driving around on the highway every now and then. So, I would bet that even the designed-for-europe diesel models will be made in Tuscaloosa.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,963
    You can't get an M class european delivery

    I showed the R class pictures to my wife and she was less than impressed. She likes the E320 CDI so that is probably the one we will pick up in Germany. I think the R is cool looking. I will go take a test drive when they get to the dealers.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Cool.

    I suspect that any acceleration concerns in the R500 and ML500 for that matter, will be addressed and eliminated for 2007 when the new 5.5L DOHC 32v V8 arrives with anywhere from 380-400hp, depending on who you believe.

    M
  • stroudmanstroudman Posts: 192
    The brochures have arrived, but no cars. I'm really curious to drive that car, as well as the C with the same motor. It looks like we will get our first one in august sometime. :-(
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Been waiting on you to post again.....what do you think of the new S-Class?

    M
  • I test drove an R500 yesterday. The space in the second row is quite good. My 5 year old particularly liked the panoramic sunroof. Acceleration was good, took it on the highway and had no problems darting in and out of traffic. Surprises, the sunvisors must be the cheapest plastic they could find, the second row doors are very large and there will be many dings. The leather was not as it should be for a 70,000$ vehicle. I was told by the salesman that this was a preproduction model-it had a brushed metal interior which is not available on the mbusa website, so maybe he was telling the truth. Availability of options(dvd player), and certain colors also seems to be problematic. My local dealer won't have cars in final form until Oct 26th.
    This car could use bluetooth and a rear view camera then it would be complete.
  • I was somewhat disappointed.

    I own a fairly well equipped 2004 Pacifica and I was truly interested in the R Class as a possible replacement for my Pacifica in the not too distant future.

    I drove a fairly well equipped R 350 that had a sticker hoveering close to $59K.

    Here is a short summary of my test drive observations:

    * 6 cylinder version is short on power, hardly FEELS faster than the Pacifica
    which is also short on power.

    * Engine is disappointingly NOISY- a real surprise in such a pricey vehicle.
    Pacifica seems noticeably quieter.

    * Engine at higher throttle is also somewhat buzzy and the buzzy feel can be
    felt through ythe steering wheel as well as the pedals. Does not impart a
    high quality feel.

    * Dashboard is attractive with a fairly high quality appearance, but as is usual
    Mercedes practice, there are too many buttons with fairly small lettering
    that look very similar. I'm sure, like everything else, most drivers will
    get used to their functions and find them by feel and memory.

    * I always liked the Mercedes-designed seat adjustment buttons mounted on
    the doors. What happened here? The Pacifica has them, why not the R ?
    Of course this is not a necessity, but I thought it was a signature Daimler
    item.

    * The front seats are very comfortable, as well as the second row seats. The
    3rd row seats, while SLIGHTLY more roomy than the Pacifica, are really
    not all that comfortable for adults (and I'm barely 5' 7") and certainly are
    not something I would look forward to taking a trip in longer than about
    an hour. It's certainly fine for for kids up to about 12-14 yrs of age.
    I thought it was little deceptive for Mercedes to promote the 3rd row
    as designed for adults.

    * Rear storage space, as you know, is pretty awful in both the R and the
    Pacifica with all seats in use. Of course this problem even plagues
    most 7 passenger SUVs, even the Giant Tahoe & Yukon.

    * Ride & Handling were pretty good, but again not much of a quantitative
    difference when comparing against the Pacifica. In fact, I would give
    a slight advantage to the Pacifica when it comes to steering feel, though
    both vehicles don't have much steering feedback from the front tires.
    I'd say the ride quality was a smidgen more sporty on the Merc. But
    one of the really srong points about the Pacifica is its ride quality and
    confident handling. In fact, I find the Pacifica (AWD) version has some
    surprisingly good handling traits. In fact, I bought one after taking a test
    drive, I was duly impressed.

    * Styling is a very subjective thing but here is my 2 cents in a nutshell:
    Merc Front- a little strange and kind of bug-eyed looking but not
    butt-ugly (barely). Nod goes to Pacifica for better front styling.
    Merc Side: Here's where I think the R is better looking than the Pacifica
    I kinda like that strong swoopy character line, and I think it makes
    the R look sleeker than the pudgy boxy profile of the Pacifica.
    Merc Rear: Ok but kind of hearse-like and some strange curvy lines
    that don't work very well for my taste. Nod to Pacifica on rear styling
    that I think is one of the best views of the Chrysler.

    Overall: I wanted to come away from the test drive this morning duly impressed
    with the R Class, and I kinda hoped that the Merc would show me how the
    R-class is $25K more car than the Pacifica. I was disappointed.
    Here's what I think MB should have done here. R Class base price of $48K
    should have included most of the items that are optional. Sunroof, power
    liftgate, rear side airbags, 6 cd changer & better stereo. Even if these items
    were to become standard equipment, I'm still not sure the R Class is worth
    $20K more than a Pacifica.
  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    The R class also costs a lot more than a comparably equiped ML. They can't cost a lot more to make, so I assume that it's because MB thinks they have something unique, and that they can therefore charge more for it. I suspect that they aren't going to be very successful in the marketplace. I question the entire concept of a luxury 6 passenger vehicle that has very little luggage room behind the third row.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Part of me thinks that MB is attempting to answer a question nobody is asking of that marque! "Gee, sure wish Mercedes would build an alternative to the station wagons/minivans currently available... we sure need one more to choose from". They have an Estate Car in the E500 that is outstanding already.

    Even if built to exacting MB standards from the past, where a common "complaint" was that the MB was over-engineered/over-priced, I would not find the R-Class on my short list. Seems like an idea spawned from a marketing guy.
  • chirpchirp Posts: 194
    MB of Arlington Heights has a black one on the lot. That is one ugly looking van.
  • markc5markc5 Posts: 19
    I don't know whether I should feel embarresed, insulted (due to my taste) or just not pay any attention to these remarks I am reading here. Frankly, I am just shocked at the response so far. I guess I shouldn't draw any conclusions over just 3 or 4 people's opinions but... We have been very happy with our R500. How can you possibly compare the Pacifica to R-series. There is a reason one has a Mercedes emblem on it versus a chrysler. They may come from the same factory but they are not the same in class. No more than you can compare a mazda miata to a porsche boxter. A Mercedes handles, drives, and performs like a mercedes and should and can't be compared to the Pacifica. The Pacifica unfortunately has to be considered the less expensive more affordable alternative to an R class. We find our car to be luxurious, responsive in feel, more than powerful enough, and a great change from the beast of a SUV we were driving the YUKON XL DENALI. My wife finds the R series much more user friendly around town. If the styling does not suit you so be it but I find it absolutely amazing that anyone would try to compare a Mercedes with a non-luxury, non-german manufactured vehicle. When BMW and or AUDI or some other high performance designed company produces the competition to the R series then we should debate the finer points of those cars. Additionally I am 6 feet tall and was quite impressed with the space of the 3rd row. I had less comfort in the third row of a Cadillac escalade or the Ford Expedition. I guess we will continue to enjoy ours with a smile and know that not everyone will always share our opinion or taste and I would love to believe it is good taste :)
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    They may come from the same factory but they are not the same in class.

    Actually they don't even come from the same factory. They don't share anything really but the same concept and a few suspension principles. No need to feel ashamed, every product isn't going to appeal to everybody and most of what you've been reading here is "pile on" posts.

    You like what you like and make no apologies for that.

    M
  • ctsangctsang Posts: 237
    I just testdrove a R. Honestly, my wife's Sienna AWD XLE LTD with navigation, DVD entertainment system, laser cruise, rear camera, and sonic parking assist, etc. beats R class by miles and miles. Remember, people who buys R class do not race in it. This R class is no match in reliability vs Sienna either. The worst part for R is my wife's minivan costs only $43K. So there you have it, Sienna costs a lot less and a lot better.
  • albellalbell Posts: 185
    I spent some time at a local NY dealer today with an R350. Given the torrential rain, we didn't do an extensive drive, but I did get to crawl around it and take it out for 20 minutes or so on local roads. The R was black on black, with premium, panorama roof, 3 row climate control and trim packages. It looked like a hearse. Black is not this babe's best outfit. The salesman agreed, saying no one likes the black.

    The inside of this vehicle is huge...monsterous. The outside does not convey how roomy it is inside, especially in the second row. I found the second row space and seats to be a much more comfortable environment than any SUV or minivan I have been in. The cabin is done pretty well -- not E or S class standards, but certainly better than the old M-Class, and perhaps a slight step up from the new ML. Fit and finish was good; some of the buttons and control felt a little sub-par. The visors are an abomination. the big roof made the black interior seem less foreboding.

    The third row is more comfortable usable than anything I have seen in a mid or full size SUV or minivan, though I didn't spend an inordinate amount of time back there, Access was easy. Better than some coach class seating on airlines. ;)

    The vehicle was very well isolated on the road, from a noise standpoint. Even with the panoramic sunroof and buckets of rain coming down, the outside world was kept out.

    The car feels big...but not unwieldy. The driving position is high and visibility is generally good. It handles very well, with a decent turning radius. Ride quality is also good. Brakes (no Sensotronic, hurray!) were quite good. Couldn't really get a sense of how tipsy it would be on high speed curves, but there was no sense of bobbing or weaving on quick turns or lane changes. I thought that it "drove like a Mercedes." It does not drive like a car, though.

    While I think some of the decisions MB made on reducing content that is standard on other $50k+ vehicles -- no standard fog lamps, not to mention no standard xenon -- is a mistake, I also think that the R is a pretty good package compared with other Benzes if optioned moderately -- with lighting, comfort, heating, panoramic sunroof, say. That takes it to E-Class wagon pricing. The tradeoff is in size/versatility vs. and upgraded level of finish. Whether it is compelling versus other options is obviously the big question.

    Would I buy it? Dunno. Would need to do a more extensive drive. I love my wagon, but it does present logistical challenges in fitting more people and stuff that occurs more than occasionally on our weekend jaunts to the country -- and the rear facing back seat should be equipped with a barf bag as standard equipment.

    At a lower price (read, discount) I could see myself going for it. Speaking of which, while we didn't talk specifics, the salesman did strongly hint that they were willing to work to make a deal. Since they didn't have any models equipped the way I would like, there wasn't any reason to probe further (plus I would be risking spousal wrath.)

    I cant see this taking off the way the original M class did in 97, at least without some tinkering in content and pricing, but I do think it is completely unique vehicle.
  • I drove the R350 over the weekend, and found it to be lacking power. However, the power is there if you push it.
  • Finally drove an R-350.
    Very nice. Great drive and handling.
    Not for us fo a couple of reasons:
    too big;
    load floor has too many voids when flat;
    do not need 3rd row seat;
    took the salesman, an engineer from car related business and me far too long to fold the seats. My wife would never appreciate. far too cumbersome.
    too big, again;
    took the survey and obviously M-B is listening to these comments.

    Will probably buy another ML.
  • Working for a company that delivered the "drive the R" cars to potential customers, I was able to put alot of my own "drive time" behind the wheel. I can say that I was overly impressed with the fit and feel of this particular MB.

    Only a few quirks that made it into the vehicle that I could tell. One being the turn signal stalk hiding behind the steering wheel spoke, thus everytime I was trying to turn, I was setting the cruise control due to it being the one you see. The other being a slight, (and typical) hesitation in the DBW from initial push on the accelerator.

    I was very, very pleased with the aggressiveness from the -sport- setting. WOW! What a great feeling of confidence from a "station wagon."
  • vtraudtvtraudt Posts: 52
    Well, the R500 is certainly no R350. When you decided on the R500, did you drive and compare to the R350?

    I drove the R320CDI in Germany (what an impressive torque; perfect with the 7 speed auto; stable as a rock at 140 mph even in highway turns and full braking), but my MB dealer here told my that they lease for $800 while the R350 is offered for $450!

    The torque of the CDI is right on par with 500, but I don't even want to know what the lease is for a 500.

    So, is the 350 enough to move the 5000 lbs?

    Volker
  • I'm getting quoted $6,000 off MSRP without even starting the negotiation. If buying is an option for you, Mercedez has 1.9% financing.
    We have 3 1/2 year old twins and a dog. We're looking at the R350, Volvo XC90, LR3, and the Honda Odyssey Mini Van.
    R350 - I love this car! Rides nice, well equiped with the P2. Some better wheels and a roof rack and this car turns sporty! Negatives: The 2nd row doors are too big. Not easy open the doors and take kids out of car seats in a parking lot. Also, the wife likes to sit up higher.
    XC90 - Wife has loved this car since its debut. Negatives: 3rd row seat is almost imposible to get to. The V8 is the only way to go. The V6 is way under powered for that heavy vehicle. We looked at a couple used ones and I didn't feel like they aged well. Read the edmunds blogs.. This car is having issues.
    LR3 - Love this car! It is fun to drive! Features are very practical. Love the front end look, don't like the plain square back. Negatives: Gas mileage is beyond terrible!
    Odyssey - Wow, it's amazing how well equiped this car is for $36,000 MSRP! The features, flexibility, space, etc... Negative: Did I mention it's a mini van? No AWD option. Maybe I'll get the family this car now and I'll get a toy car next year.
  • As a former owner of a Chrysler Pacifica for 4 years and now a Mercedes R-350 for 1 year I'd like to clarify some of the comments I've read regarding a comparison: In short the R-class is everything the Pacifica wanted to be but wasn't!

    The Pacifica had its charms (that's why I had one before the R-class came out!) It was very comfortable for 4 adults and 2 midgets. But anyone who doesn't realize how comfortable the R class 3ed row is for 6 foot plus adults, hasn't taken the time to lift up the back seat head rests, tilt back the seats, and sit down in the 3ed row under the panoramic roof for an hour or two relaxing test drive. There is more room in the 3ed row of a R-class than in many other vehicles in their 2nd row! My married adult children fight to get the back row! Honestly nothing in the Suburban/ Sequoya/ Honda Pilot/ Lexus/ GMSaturn Clones / Big Audis/ Navigator Boats/ nothing really comes close to this level of comfort for 6 genuine American Sized (or German sized) Adults. If you want to travel by road with 6 adult friends in an All Wheel Drive that is not an airport van, the list is down to one line of vehicle.
    The R-Class. Choose the model by your wallet, and need for speed, but the R-350 can get you speeding tickets in all 50 states and gets me 24 mpg versus the 17 mpg my Pacifica did. And of course don't even consider getting it without the Panorama roof. I bought mine 1 year old with 8,000 miles on it for $39,000, (the same as I paid for a Pacifica that was by far its inferior wannabee four years before).
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