Premium midsize SUV; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $14,700 – $51,000*

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

  • Cargo room
  • Passenger room and comfort
  • Quietness
  • Ride
  • Steering/handling
  • Brake performance
  • Engine noise (diesel)
  • Fuel economy (except diesel)
  • Ride (with air suspension)

R-Class models earn our Recommended rating for the way they combine Mercedes-Benz luxury and driving dynamics with minivanlike utility. Though not inexpensive, new or used, the R-Class’ ability to transport six adults in executive-jet comfort is unparalleled in this class.


Mercedes-Benz added a second midsize sport-utility vehicle for 2006–a shapely crossover-type wagon with all-wheel drive and either V6 or V8 power. Built in America, the R-Class shared its basic structure with Mercedes’ more conventional M-Class SUV, but it seated six instead of five and was 12 inches longer in wheelbase–15 inches longer overall. R-Class competitors included the Cadillac SRX, Lexus RX, and Volvo XC90.

Two models were offered: the R350 with a 268-horsepower V6 engine, and the R500 with a 302-horsepower V8. A seven-speed automatic was the sole transmission. Both R-Class models had all-wheel drive, which lacked low-range gearing.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and antiskid/traction control were standard. Front side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags that covered all three seating rows also were installed in each model. The R350 rode on 17-inch wheels, versus 18-inch for the R500; 19-inch tires were available for both.

Seating was set up in a 2-2-2 arrangement, with folding second-row buckets and a folding 50/50 split third-row bench. Leather/vinyl upholstery was standard. R-Class models had a rear liftgate without separate-opening glass. Mercedes’ Tele Aid assistance was available for the R350 and standard in the R500. Available for both were a navigation system and steering-linked xenon headlamps.

Yearly Updates

2007 R-Class
Diesel engine and high-performance models joined the 2007 lineup. The new R320 CDI held a diesel V6 engine, rated at 215 horsepower. A 507-horsepower V8 went into the R63. All models used a seven-speed automatic transmission, but the one in the R63 incorporated manual-shift buttons on the steering wheel. Standard equipment for the R63 included leather upholstery, a load-leveling suspension, navigation system, and Mercedes’ Tele Aid assistance.
2008 R-Class
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz R-Class lost its V8 R500 and high-performance R63 AMG models but gained a lower-cost rear-drive R350.
2009 R-Class
The rear-wheel-drive R350 model was dropped, while the R320 BlueTEC replaced the R320 CDI. A sunroof was newly standard for 2009, as was Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE safety system that senses an impending collision and tightens the seatbelts and moves the front passenger seat to a safer position. PRE-SAFE also closes an open sunroof if a rollover is detected. DVD entertainment was also available, as was a new audio unit with voice control that combined a wireless cell-phone link, a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, HD radio, 6-disc CD/DVD changer, MP3 connectivity, and a hard drive that could store 4 gigabytes of digital music files.
2010 R-Class
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz R-Class was largely unchanged.
2011 R-Class
The 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class got freshened exterior styling.
2012 R-Class
For 2012, the R350’s 3.5-liter V6 put out 302 horsepower, up 34 from 2011. There were no other changes of note.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

In 2006, the R350 used a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, while the R500 got a 302-horsepower 5.0-liter V8. The new turbodiesel V6 engine in the 2007 R320 CDI produced 215 horsepower. Also introduced for 2007 was the R63, with a 507-horsepower 6.2-liter gasoline V8. All models used a seven-speed automatic transmission and had all-wheel drive, without low-range gearing. For 2008, the V8-powered R500 and high-performance R63 AMG models were discontinued. The rear-wheel-drive R350 model was dropped for 2009, and the R320 BlueTEC replaced the R320 CDI. R320 BlueTEC was AWD only and had a 210-hp 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. For 2012, the R350’s engine gained 34 horsepower for a total of 302.

Turbodiesel dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/182
Engine HP 210-215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 398
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 268-302
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 258-273
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic



ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.0/303
Engine HP 302
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 339
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


dohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 6.2/379
Engine HP 507
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 465
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
7-speed automatic


Road Test

Both basic models–R350 and R500–accelerate briskly, but the V8 delivers more thrust in all conditions. Even though the transmission is compelled to upshift and downshift more frequently in the R350 than the R500, its shifts are silky smooth. Some testers have noted that the transmission in one test R350 periodically suffered jerky gear changes at low speeds. The R320 CDI suffers brief delay in power delivery from a standing start, but then accelerates briskly.

Fuel economy is comparable to other Mercedes-Benz models. A test R350 averaged 17.6 mpg in mixed city/highway driving. Gasoline engines require premium-grade fuel. The R320 CDI demands low-sulfur diesel fuel.

In terms of ride quality, the R-Class is admirably comfortable and rewardingly composed. The available air suspension has Comfort, Sport, and Automatic settings. In Sport setting, the ride becomes uncomfortably choppy, while Comfort mode leads to some wallow and float.

R-Class models handle more like station wagons than SUVs. Steering is impressively linear and accurate, though some drivers may prefer a weightier feel. Able to take corners with impressive grip and balance, the R-Class suffers no excess body lean. Strong stopping power is matched by outstanding brake-pedal modulation.

Quietness is a virtue, led by luxury-car levels of road- and wind-noise suppression. The V6 engine is heard more than the smooth V8, but is otherwise no less refined in sound or feel. The turbodiesel engine in the R320 CDI sounds louder in this installation than in E- and M-Class models, with clatter that’s intrusive during acceleration and noticeable at idle and while cruising.

Dashboards contain an upscale blend of businesslike gauges and sophisticated but easy-to-use dashboard controls. Large, well-marked climate dials deserve special acclaim. Using the short column lever to change gears may seem strange initially. That lever falls easily to hand, but returns to the same position after each shift. So, the driver must monitor gear selection as indicated on the instrument-panel screen. Mercedes’ navigation system absorbs most audio functions, and requires multiple steps for some basic tasks. Mounted low, the display screen requires a long glance away from the road to read. Interior materials are notably rich in look, feel, and quality.

Roomy front seats are supportive for cruising and cornering, though the Comfort Package’s 10-way seats have a tacked-on control pod that intrudes on leg space and also looks out of place. Entry/exit is easy via large doors and no-stress step-in height. Rear space is plentiful, too. Six-footers have abundant second-row head and knee room, plus adequate under-seat foot space. Blending fine support and soft padding, the second-row seats slide forward and tilt up for entry/exit to the third-row seat, which is roomy enough for two six-foot adults. Actually, it’s more comfortable than rear seats in most midsize SUVs, though larger passengers may wish for more shoulder room. Extra-large rear doors ease entry/exit to the second row, but third-row access requires some awkward maneuvering.

Second- and third-row seats recline and fold easily to lay flush with the floor, providing nearly 8 feet of storage space. Unfortunately, the available second-row console protrudes above seatbacks. Liftover is low for easy cargo loading. Deep door pockets and multi-chambered first- and second-row consoles provide abundant small-item storage.


Model Tested: Mercedes-Benz R350

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 8
Steering/Handling - 7
Quietness - 8


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 8
Cargo Room - 9


Value - 8

Total: 73


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
126.6 203.0 77.5 65.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
85.0 25.1 6
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.8 40.4 39.8 36.2
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: The tailgate may not open requiring reprogramming the body control module, a “tailgate open” message may appear although it is closed requiring a revised lock, the tailgate may reverse directions when closing due to a loose bolt for the gas strut, or the tailgate may malfunction intermittently requiring a replacement latch. (2006)
Description: The outside mirrors may not fully retract or open due to a loose electrical connection or lack of lubrication on their pivots. (2008)
Audio system
Description: The buttons in the steering wheel may quit working requiring replacement of the steering wheel which is internally shorted. (2006-07)
Steering noise
Description: Snapping or groaning from the steering column due to failing upper steering shaft bearing. (2005-08)
Description: Wind deflector on panorama roof contacts the plastic edge of the glass roof panel. (2006)
Description: The valve on the spare tire may have been damaged during original mounting and the tire will not hold air unless the valve (or wheel and tire assembly) was replaced. (2006)
Electrical problem
Description: The air suspension may quit working and an “Airmatic-Visit Workshop” message may appear due to insulation on wiring harness from compressor rubbing off and the wire shorting. (2007-08)

Recall History

2006 R-Class
Description: Starter wiring harness may be misrouted, leading to chafing of protective sleeve covering starter wiring harness; over time, could result in electrical short and loss of electrical-system function.
2006 R-Class
Description: Threads in nut that secures seatbelt buckle in limited number of second-row seats may be missing; in a crash, occupant may not be properly restrained.
2006-08 R-Class
Description: An incorrect software calibration number (SCN) coding received during a recent workshop visit can affect a number of functions: (1) the fuel gauge readings may be incorrect; (2) a stuck fuel-level sensor may not be displayed in the instrument cluster; (3) the check engine light may illuminate incorrectly; and, (4) the speedometer may be out of tolerance. In the event of a vehicle crash, the electrical fuel pump may not receive a crash signal that is required for the fuel pump to disconnect and prevent future fuel delivery as designed. Dealers will recode the SCN.
2007 R-Class
Description: Accelerator pedal in some vehicles might not have been fully fastened; over time, pedal may not maintain a consistent position, making it more difficult to operate.
2007 R-Class diesel
Description: Engine may stall and not restart due to a failed crankshaft sensor. Dealers will replace the crankshaft sensor.
2008 R-Class
Description: Defective driving pin, used to control oil pressure of power steering, could break during normal turns, limiting steering-wheel operation.
2011 R-Class, model V251
Description: The O-ring may not have been properly lubricated in all cases. Lack of lubrication can lead to leakage of the fuel filter. Diesel fuel may be deposited on roads and making those roads slippery, increasing the potential for a crash. Dealers will replace the fuel filters free of charge.
2011 R-Class diesel
Description: Diesel fuel filter may leak from around the heating component onto the road surface.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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