2009 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
The 2009 R-Class may be an SUV, but test drivers said it drivers more like a smooth sedan -- a big plus for this family hauler.
- "Competent handling that no one could call sporty, seductive Euro ride quality, smooth V-6 powertrains." -- Car and Driver
- "Aggressive cornering is naturally not the R's forte, yet the four-wheel independent suspension and available Airmatic air suspension system admirably quell excess body motions. Still, if you're looking for a more responsive drive, there are several luxury crossovers available that are more involving. Even the equally large Ford Flex feels lighter on its feet." -- Edmunds
- "Acts more like a station wagon than an SUV. The steering is impressively linear and accurate, though some drivers may prefer a weightier feel. R-Class corners with impressive grip and balance with no excess body lean. Stopping control is strong." -- Consumer Guide
- "The R is more car than truck underneath, so it rides smoothly and handles well. Mercedes calls it a sports tourer, not an SUV, to emphasize its genteel attributes." -- USA Today
Acceleration and Power
The base R350 comes with a 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6 engine. The new R320 Bluetec comes with a 210-horsepower turbodiesel V6. Both are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. According to the EPA, the R350 achieves 15/19 mpg city/highway, while the R320 Bluetec achieves 18/24 mpg.
- "Only AWD R350 models have been made available for us to test. They accelerate briskly, but the transmission in one test model periodically suffered jerky gear changes at low speed." -- Consumer Guide
- "The V6-powered R350 is acceptable in terms of acceleration but won't win any drag races. The turbodiesel offers satisfactory grunt along with significantly better fuel economy." -- Edmunds
- "Even the V-6 provides respectable acceleration and passing power--although with a curb weight between 4,700-4,900 pounds, the V-8 is an attractive alternative, dropping 0-60-mph times from just over eight to just under seven seconds and making hilly terrain and heavy passenger loads less challenging." -- Automobile Magazine
- "We like the new seven-speed automatic. It's smooth enough in its gearchanges, and it skips directly to the ratio it wants at any given time, so there's never a sense of shuttling through a seven-pack of speeds. Your fingers easily reach either of the rocker switches on the backs of the wheel spokes, allowing manual shifting." -- Car and Driver
Handling and Braking
Most auto reviewers found that the R-Class handles with confidence for a car of its size. All models are available with an optional 353 air suspension package that includes an adaptive damping system and air suspension.
- "The suspension has a deliberate, sure-footed feel." -- Car and Driver
- "There's more than enough braking capability to stop the hefty R-Class right now, and the pedal feel is very good compared to some other Mercedes models." -- New Car Test Drive
- "Despite a 40.7-ft.turning circle and tires that favor comfort over absolute grip, the R-Class maneuvers well and feels exceptionally positive and self-assured through corners." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Optional on both models, Mercedes' Airmatic air suspension system ensures just the right damping for all situations." -- Edmunds