sciguy_0504

A comfy, cozy but chubby SUV

11 posts in this topic

Although its M-class sport utility vehicle is hardly among the truckiest in ride comfort and handling, Mercedes decided it needed a more carlike "crossover" SUV and that the vehicle should have three rows of seats instead of two.

So last month it introduced the R-class, a much longer but squatter all-wheel-drive vehicle than the M that will seat six adults - one more than can be accommodated in the M-Class - and do it comfortably.

In fact, the new R does everything comfortably. Passengers will love its quiet cabin, plush ride and luxury features. And they'll likely be as secure as in any vehicle. In the Mercedes tradition, the R comes with just about every feature available in modern vehicles to help prevent accidents and minimize their effects.

Prices begin at about $49,000.

The R is too long and too heavy, though, to be much fun to drive. Punching the button for the four-wheel independent suspension's "sport" setting (one of three in the optional Airmatic suspension) helps overcome the heavy feel, but passengers then pay a price in ride quality.

Two engines are available in the R - my tester's 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 and a 302-hp. V-8, the latter in a variant called the R500 that starts at about $56,000.

Mercedes says the V-6 model accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds; that's adequate but not good enough for a luxury vehicle. So although it uses more fuel, the V-8 seems the better choice for this 4,700-pound-plus vehicle, particularly if you'll regularly be carrying heavy loads of passengers and/or gear, or doing a lot of highway driving.

The V-8 model does zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, which is quick for a family vehicle. Both engines, by the way, require premium fuel; the owner's manual is quite firm about not using the cheaper stuff except when there's no other choice.

A further degree of driver control is available by manually shifting the seven-speed automatic transmission (yes, seven speeds, a first for a production car's tranny), via buttons on the back of the steering wheel. The electronic column-mounted stalk for basic shifting into drive, reverse and park seems fussy at first, but one quickly gets used to it. And it leaves more space in the center console that would otherwise be occupied by the shift lever for dual cupholders, an ashtray and covered storage.

In the full automatic mode, the transmission is a mite slow to "kick down" in response to a stab of the accelerator pedal. MB says the transmission can skip up to three gear ratios in such downshifts to help provide quick acceleration. Maybe the gear-skipping is what slows it down?

The rack and pinion power steering has a variable ratio, which operates faster near the center. A system that also offers vehicle speed-dependent variable assist comes in V-8 models, and it's needed; the steering in the V-6 tester offered little feedback at highway speeds, further detracting from the driving experience. Mercedes says a version of this vehicle specially tuned by DaimlerChrysler's AMG subsidiary will be available by the end of next year.

For the record, the R isn't the first Mercedes-Benz to have three rows of seating; for about $55,000 with all-wheel drive, the E-Class wagon has a rear-facing two-person third row so that it seats a total of seven: two, three and three.

But even Mercedes concedes that its third row is strictly for occasional use.

The R-class' third-row occupants face forward like everyone else and have generous legroom. And, as do second-row passengers, they can benefit from an optional rear air conditioner with separate controls.

Accessing the third row in the R doesn't involve crawling through a tailgate; there's an aisle between the second-row seats.

As an alternative, the second-row seats fold out of the way to ease entry and exit to and from the third row.

The R, which Mercedes says is an almost completely new vehicle that shares some structural basics with the M-class, is more than a foot longer and 2 inches wider than the M-class SUV. The R also is about 5 inches longer than a Cadillac Escalade and 10 inches longer than Cadillac's crossover, the SRX. The R stands about 3 inches lower than the M.

The long sloping profile helps keep the R from resembling a stretched Checker airport limo, but it's still an imposing presence.

Other standard features in the R include traction control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, heated outside mirrors, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. Opting for the V-8 model also adds larger wheels (18-inch), a memory system for both front seats and outside mirrors, and other items.

The bird's-eye-maple-trimmed dashboard looks good and works well, with most controls intuitive and well marked. A bit of sun glare slightly obscures the gauges, but a bigger complaint is that there aren't enough of them. There is no way from the driver's seat to check the engine's oil pressure or level or the health of the battery - just idiot lights that illuminate in the case of major malfunction.

Where does it say that the affluent don't care about what's going on under the hoods of their cars?

Other options include the Parktronic front- and rear-obstacle detection and warning system; projector-beam headlamps that swivel; a dual-screen, dual-source, rear-seat entertainment system that allows one rider to watch a DVD movie and another to play a video game; a navigation system; two sunroofs; and a satellite radio.

The R's reliability is an unknown at this point; it's too new to have a track record at Consumer Reports or J.D. Power and Associates, the most readily available public sources of that kind of information.

It's no secret, though, that Mercedes' recent performance in this area has been spotty; its vehicles scored well below average in Power's last "dependability" study measuring reliability in 3-year-old models. And Consumer Reports said recently its annual survey of readers found five Mercedes models, including its top-of-the-heap S-class, to be among the least reliable cars around. At Mercedes prices, that sort of thing is unacceptable.

More encouraging are results of two other Power studies, measuring quality in the first three months of ownership and measuring dealers' ability to keep customers satisfied; Mercedes and its retailers scored well above average in both.

Which suggests that even if your R-class arrives with a glitch or two, your dealer will try hard to make it right.

But it'll be nice when Mercedes reliability once again matches the design and engineering of models like the remarkable R-class.

2006 Mercedes-Benz R350

Vehicle tested:

Engine: 3.5-liter V-6,

268 hp.

Transmission:

Seven-speed automatic, all-wheel drive.

Safety: Dual front,

seat-mounted side and curtain-type air bags with rollover sensors;

four-wheel disc brakes with antilock, stability control and brake assist; tire pressure monitoring.

Place of assembly:

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Weight: 4,766 pounds.

Cargo room: Rear seats up/folded, cubic feet: 15.2/85.

EPA mileage: 16 mpg city, 21 highway.

Price as driven: $57,635, including destination charge.


http://www.newsday.com/news/columnists/ny-...ness-columnists Edited by sciguy_0504
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Yea...now for my question: with the proliferation of third row seating...when are manufacturers going to wise up and start offering third row access doors? It would be a welcome addition.
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Yea...now for my question: with the proliferation of third row seating...when are manufacturers going to wise up and start offering third row access doors?  It would be a welcome addition.

[post="44170"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

I bet it is so much easier to get in and out of the third row in older wagons where the seats are facing reverse.
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I bet it is so much easier to get in and out of the third row in older wagons where the seats are facing reverse.

[post="44189"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]




shhhh!!!!!! don't give honda any ideas :lol:
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I bet it is so much easier to get in and out of the third row in older wagons where the seats are facing reverse.

[post="44189"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


That's safe. :blink:
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That's safe. :blink:

[post="44223"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Hm, wouldn't it be safer in a frontal crash, as long as the head restraints are good enough? But, yeah, aside from possible motion sickness, I like the idea of rear-facing middle rows. It makes it more loungey.
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...with the proliferation of third row seating...when are manufacturers going to wise up and start offering third row access doors?  It would be a welcome addition.

6 doors... now you want 6-door cars. Why limit yourself; get really 'welcome':

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Yea...now for my question: with the proliferation of third row seating...when are manufacturers going to wise up and start offering third row access doors?  It would be a welcome addition.

[post="44170"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Rumors tell of GM doing this on some GMT800 suburbans but decided that it wasn't worth all the trouble. Though that may have changed with the market shift.
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i thought i would like this car or crossover whatever, but we got one for a weekend while my dads car was getting the tire fixed (hit another nail) and i have never felt so car sick while driving in my life, the whole car swayed/rolled when making simple lane changes and it is near impossible to see out of, i am so happy that we get to get our car back and we dont have to keep it
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