Mercedes R-350 crossover vehicle » Ventura County Star

25 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes R-350 crossover vehicle » Ventura County Star
Mercedes R 280

Mercedes R-350 crossover vehicle

SHNS photo courtesy Mercedes

The R-Class had, and has, more of a limousine look, a consequence of its luxury-vehicle status and high price.

In 2004 and 2006, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz premiered two very similar vehicles — the Pacifica and the Mercedes R-Class. The large, six-passenger people movers featured three rows of individual seats and, for lack of a better term, they were dubbed sport wagons.

At the time, the two companies were part of DaimlerChrysler, a mixed German-American marriage that has since gone through a nasty divorce, with Chrysler now wedded to Fiat of Italy.

Yet despite their kinship at the time, Mercedes did not want its R-Class spoken about in the same breath as the Pacifica. Officials insisted that the R-Class had nothing in common with its lower life Chrysler cousin.

If they didn’t convince the skeptics then, perhaps they will now. The Pacifica, the victim of poor sales, has gone to that great junkyard in the sky. But the R-Class, also the victim of buyer apathy, soldiers on and even gets a face lift for 2011.

Sales of the R-Class totaled 2,825 in the recession year of 2009, down from 7,733 the year before. In 2010, it is on a pace to improve slightly. Except for the expensive military-style G-Wagon, it is the slowest selling of the Mercedes vehicles classified as trucks.

2011 MERCEDES-BENZ R-350 4MATIC FOUR-DOOR CROSSOVER SPORT WAGON

Engine . 3-liter V6 diesel, 211 horsepower. Transmission . Seven-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and all-wheel drive. Overall length . 16 feet 11 inches.

EPA passenger/cargo volume . 147/16 cubic feet. Weight . 5,148 pounds. EPA city/highway fuel consumption . 18/24 miles per gallon. Base price, including destination charge (2010) . $51,675.

Base dealer cost (2010) . $48,119. Price as tested (2010) . $63,705. (Comments or suggestions? Contact Frank Aukofer at driveways6(at)gmail.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com)

How to account for the tepid response? Perhaps the R-Class, like the Pacifica, reminded observers too much of minivans. Their size of nearly 17 feet long certainly put them in that category, although they came with conventional swing-open side doors instead of sliders.

But the R-Class had, and has, more of a limousine look, a consequence of its luxury-vehicle status and high price. It’s as classy as any Mercedes and can carry six adults in comfort, though less so in the third row.

Curiously, however, it takes on more of a minivan persona in the 2011 model because customers can specify seven-passenger seating, inserting a center seat in the second row.

Five years after it was first introduced as a sport wagon, the preferred designation for R-Class types is crossover, which refers to vehicles that straddle the divide between automobiles and sport utility vehicles. Though not intended for off-road duty, the R-Class comes standard with all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4Matic.

If the new R-Class looks different, it’s because the entire front end, from the windshield forward, has been re-designed. The hood is higher and wider, the face more prominent, and the visually striking daytime running lights use light-emitting diodes.

Though there are nine R-Class variants sold in different markets around the world, only two make it to the United States: the R-350 4Matic, with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine, and the R-350 BlueTec 4Matic, with a 211-horsepower, 3-liter six-cylinder diesel engine.

They are similar in their performance characteristics; in fact, except for slightly different muted engine sounds, anyone would be hard-pressed to discern which engine was under the hood. The Mercedes diesel starts instantly, has no discernible diesel odor (except at the service station fuel pump) and is nearly as quick off the line.

Mercedes R 320

Zero to 60 mile an hour acceleration times for both are between eight and nine seconds, with the diesel several tenths of a second slower, according to Mercedes specifications. But the diesel, because of its stronger torque, feels quicker from rest.

The big difference is fuel consumption. The diesel has a city/highway government rating of 18/24 miles to the gallon compared to the gasoline engine’s 14/19 rating.

On both the diesel and gasoline versions, the standard suspension system consists of independent double-wishbone hardware in front and an air suspension system in back.

That works fine for the gasoline model but results in a harsh ride on the diesel because it uses harder-riding run-flat tires to make space for a reservoir for urea-based fluid. The fluid is part of the system that lowers diesel pollutants and enables the R-diesel to meet stringent clean-air standards in all 50 states. If you’re considering the diesel R-350 you should also check out the optional full air suspension system with its adaptive damping and better ride comfort.

Routine handling is competent. The R-Class tracks cleanly on the freeways and exhibits little lean in the corners. But with more than two-and-one half tons of heft and that near-17 foot length, it’s not going to out-hustle sports sedans.

Like many Mercedes-Benzes, the R-Class has a heavy steering feel. The interior is opulent, with seats that are firm — some might say hard — but supportive over long distances. Second row seats are nearly as good as those up front.

The third row can accommodate adults, though their knees come up waist high. Getting back there takes some agility.

Cargo space behind the third row is middling — 16 cubic feet, or about what you’d find in a decent mid-size car. However, you can get up to 85 cubic feet of space if you fold the second and third rows.

A deficiency in the classy interior is the power shade for the sunroof, which looks like cheesecloth and allows too much sunlight to penetrate. Sun shades should shade.

(Comments or suggestions? Contact Frank Aukofer at driveways6(at)gmail.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com)

Mercedes R 350
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