SAFETY

This is where I get back to overlooking those interior quirks because I'm so impressed by the R350's safety features. All of the seat belts in the second and third rows were easy for newbies to operate on their own without assistance. The buckles sat nice and high on stable bases, so even those with little hands trying to maneuver around booster seats could buckle up easily.

There are four sets of lower Latch anchors in the R350, with two sets in the second row and two more in the third. Except for minivans, it's unusual to find Latch connectors in the third row of most cars, so I really appreciated the two sets in the third row. The lower Latch anchors in the second-row captain's chairs are visible, so there's no pushing aside seat cushions to get at them. The top tether anchors are easily accessible on the back of each of the captain's chairs. In the third row, the Latch connectors are tucked inside little plastic compartments with removable plastic covers. The top tethers are located on the backside of the third-row seats. All three types of child-safety seats

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rear-facing infant seat, forward- and rear-facing convertible seat and high-back booster seat

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fit well in this crossover. The reclining seats made it easy to get a good fit with the forward-facing convertible seat and the booster.

The R350 has standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control with anti-roll control, traction control, hill-start assist and all-wheel drive. It also has eight airbags, including side-impact airbags for the first and second rows and side curtains for all three rows.

Other than all of the standard safety stuff you'd expect in a luxury brand in 2011, I was appreciative of the blind spot warning system ($600), which is new for 2011. It's worth splurging for. It keeps an eye on your blind spots for you and alerts you with an illuminated triangle in the side mirror if a car pulls into your blind spot. If a car is in your blind spot and you signal that you're going to turn that way, the R-Class will beep to let you know it's not yet safe to merge. The R350 also has optional front and rear parking sensors and a backup camera.

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