NEW FOR 2009:

– R550 V8 model discontinued
– BlueTEC with AdBlue technology added to R320 CDI
– New-generation audio and communications systems
– Revised rear-seat entertainment system
– Standard black grille with chrome highlights, active bi-Xenon headlamps, COMAND with MP3, Bluetooth, DVD changer and SD card slot, redesigned steering wheel, PRE-SAFE, and driver’s side power four-way lumbar support
– Sport Package of 19-inch wheels, blue glass and tinted taillights from 2008 model year now standard equipment
– Available passenger side memory and trailer hitch
– R320 BlueTEC tires now run-flat

For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz R-Class line-up shifts slightly. The V8-powered R550 has been discontinued, while the R320 CDI now has BlueTEC diesel technology, for cleaner emissions that meet stringent 2009 standards. The system uses AdBlue, an aqueous urea solution that is intended to be replenished primarily during routine dealership maintenance. The AdBlue container is mounted where the spare tire would normally be kept, so the R320 CDI now uses run-flat tires.

Other changes include the addition of active bi-Xenon headlamps, standard COMAND with MP3, Bluetooth, DVD changer and SD card slot, and an available trailer hitch that allows the R-Class to tow up to 1,587 kg (3,500 lbs). The rear-seat entertainment system now has a larger eight-inch screen; wireless headphones are included, and the radio and COMAND can be operated from the rear seats.

The R-Class is now available in two models: the R320 CDI, with 3.0-litre diesel engine, and the R350, with 3.5-litre V6. Both use a seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Both models are equipped similarly, and include 19-inch alloy wheels, Thermatic automatic climate control, rear air suspension, COMAND with six-disc DVD changer, single SD card slot and auxiliary input, electronic compass, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, Sirius satellite radio, AMG styling package of front and rear aprons and side skirts, active bi-Xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights, power-folding mirrors, two-stage rain-sensing wipers, heated washers, blue-tinted privacy glass, power-adjustable heated Artico leather upholstery, heated leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, high-gloss Burl Walnut wood trim, cargo cover, power pop-out third-row windows, third seat for second row, power sunroof, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirrors, garage door opener, Parktronic parking system, Smart Key keyless entry, anti-theft alarm system, and tire pressure loss warning system.

Available options include Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping system, hard-drive-based navigation system, rear-seat entertainment system, Harman/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound System, memory seats, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, second-row executive chairs with centre console, panoramic sunroof, rear climate control, power liftgate and backup camera.

Beautifully styled, the R-Class is a big vehicle that doesn’t look bulky. It’s roomy inside and, unusual for the crossover segment, the third row of seats is comfortable for adults on long trips; this is more of a minivan without the sliding doors. Both the second and third rows of seats fold flat for extra cargo space, and the standard three-position middle seat can be optioned to just a pair of chairs with a console between them.

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