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2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Review

Test drivers said the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class shines with an adult-friendly third row, lots of cargo space and a fuel-efficient diesel model.

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious third row
  • Thrifty and sprightly diesel model
  • Ample cargo space
  • Low fuel economy with gas engine
  • Navigation screen mounted too low




Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 8.2
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.3
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Overview

Reviewers thought the 2012 Mercedes-Benz R350 has adequate power from its standard V6 engine, but they much preferred the diesel-powered R350 BlueTec for its brisk acceleration. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard, and test drivers said it shifts smoothly and quickly. All-wheel drive is standard. The gas-powered R350 gets an EPA-estimated 16/21 mpg city/highway, which is a bit low compared to similar rivals’ estimates. The turbodiesel V6-powered R350 BlueTec gets 18/23 mpg, which is good for the class. Auto writers praised the R350’s strong brakes and responsive steering. It feels planted around corners and delivers a pleasantly smooth ride, they said.

Reviewers said that the 2012 R-Class features premium interior materials and excellent build quality. Test drivers found the first and second rows of seats to be incredibly comfy and spacious and said the third row has enough room to accommodate adults, which is a rare compliment for a three-row SUV. The R-Class has one of the largest cargo holds in the class, at 85 cubic feet with both rear rows folded. Standard equipment includes Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker CD audio system, an auxiliary input, leatherette seats, dual-zone automatic climate control and a power sunroof. Available features include heated front seats, leather upholstery, navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, a power liftgate, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a rear-seat entertainment system. Test drivers found the R350’s infotainment and navigation screen set too low to easily view, and some complained that the system is difficult to operate.

Other SUVs to Consider

Test drivers said the 2012 Lincoln MKT has a cushioned ride and composed handling. The front-wheel drive MKT gets better fuel economy than the gas-powered R350, and reviewers liked the MKT's upscale cabin ambiance.

Like the R-Class, the 2012 Volkswagen Touareg has standard all-wheel drive and is available with a diesel engine that returns great fuel economy for the class. Most test drivers observed that the Touareg's navigation system is easy to use and its interior has excellent fit and finish.

Compare the R-Class, MKT and Touareg »

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