2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec 4Matic Review and Test Drive

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DRIVING THE MERCEDES-BENZ R350 BLUETEC

In 10 days with the R350 BlueTec, we were able to subject the car to a variety of passenger loads, Thanksgiving traffic, winding roads, and quick sprints. It proved ideal for pre-Thanksgiving shopping expeditions (85 cubic feet of luggage space feeds 10), and seemed happiest when cruising along at 70 mph (113 km/h).

Fuel economy exceeded the car’s EPA rating, both for city and highway driving. On a 64-mile (103-kilometer) drive mostly in slow-moving traffic and city streets (our average speed was 23 mph (37 km/h), we used 10.4 l/100 km (22.6 mpg). On several highway drives, fuel economy was 25 mpg (9.4 l/100 km).

With 0-60 mph at 8.6 seconds, I didn’t expect the R350 to win any drag races but the 2012 ML350 BlueTec, the beneficiary of a reengineered diesel engine that develops 240 hp and 455 pound-feet of torque, moves the M-Class from 0 to 60 in 7.3 seconds. This is, of course, an unfair comparison since the R weighs 450 pounds more but the newer engine would do wonders to make the R-Class diesel a heavyweight contender.

Steering, especially for such a large and heavy car, was responsive and there was decent feedback transmitted to the driver. The brakes felt responsive and, in the few cases where drivers concentrating too much on Turkey and not enough on the road stopped short, brought the car to a safe stop in short order.

Our chief complaint here relates to ride comfort. On smooth stretches of road, the R was perfect. Introduce uneven pavement into the picture and the illusion of supreme comfort and luxury quickly dissipates. There were stretches I travel regularly where I quickly had to become familiar with which lane was uneven and which lane was smooth so I could avoid the harsh ride.

BOTTOM LINE

The R350 BlueTec starts at $53,840, an $1150 premium over the gasoline version. Equipped with “necessary” options ranging from navigation, a rear-view camera, iPod interface, power liftgate, and the highly-recommended Mercedes safety features including blind-spot assist, the cost quickly goes up but still stays within the range of other luxury vehicles in or near this class.

The R-Class is the consummate people mover and few vehicles give so many passengers so much room and comfort. But the allure wears off quickly when the harsh ride rears its ugly head and there’s simply nothing luxurious about that.

 

 

2011 Mercedes-Benz R350 BlueTec 4Matic
Base Price, Price as Tested $53,840/$67,048
Drivetrain Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine 3.0 l/turbocharged V-6
HP/Torque (pound-feet) 210/400
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Curb weight (lbs) 5,203 (6-passenger)5,280 (7-passenger)
Wheelbase (inches) 126.6
Length x width x height (inches) 203.1 x 85.4 x 65.4
0-60 mph (seconds) 8.6
Fuel economy (mpg) () 18/24

 

 

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