2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class Review by Kristin Varela

What's a parent to do when they need to transport more than two or three children (or adults for that matter), but they're not willing to make the leap to a minivan and don't love the trucky feel of a traditional SUV? Well, if you have more than fifty grand to spend, you buy a crossover. Specifically, you buy a 2011 Mercedes-Benz R350. It transports up to six people, drives just as easily as a smaller car and does it all with classy Benz swank.

I enjoyed my week test-driving the R-Class. I loved the quiet ride, standard all-wheel drive, the just-right responsive acceleration and the easy braking so much that I was willing to overlook other irksome qualities that normally would have swayed my opinion.

The R350, which was redesigned for 2011, has great visibility, with a big windshield that framed the amazing mountain vistas as I drove to Taos, N.M. The huge dual panoramic moonroofs kept the R-Class' cabin feeling bright and airy. I also loved having the flexibility to haul a variety of combinations of people and cargo, but the third row could definitely use some rethinking.

You might have guessed that this crossover isn't inexpensive. The base model starts at $50,240, and my test car, which was also a base model, cost $67,455. It takes some deep pockets to afford this car, but it's worth it.

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