2006 R350, 54 K Miles

I was really interested in the Mercedes R350 because it is stylish and will fit all 3 of kids and their sport equipment…but now I’m afraid because of all the horrible reviews im reading…I know you cant please everyone but any advice?

I’d look elsewhere, it’s been a troublesome sales failure. An Acura MDX might work, as might a Honda Pilot or Mazda CX-9, or a Buick Enclave. An Audi Q7 might also be an option.

Buy the Mercedes for the luxury and stop by on your way home and pick up a Toyota for all those times the Merc is in the shop.

An old saying–which is still valid–is that “there is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes-Benz”.
Even if you can buy this vehicle for a reasonable price, the below-average reliability and the FAR above average price of replacement parts makes ownership an expensive proposition.

The bottom line–IMHO–is that if you crave the three-pointed MB emblem for its prestige, that is fine…as long as you are prepared to pay–in terms of both $$ and in wasted time–while it is being repaired on a regular basis.

Let’s look at estimated maintenance and repairs (M&R) for 3 similar wagons: R350, Audi Q7, and Lincoln MKT. I’ll use the 2010 year to factor out some freebie maintenance on new cars and get into the time period that you begin to replace brakes and change transmission fluids.

Edmunds estimates that over the next 5 years the M&R costs for these 3 vehicles will be:

R350: $19,720
Q7: $19,037
MKT: $10,422

All 3 are still available. If you don’t mind paying twice as much each year for maintenance and repairs to own a Benz, then go for it. Or you might take a Lincoln MKT for a spin and see if you like it. BTW, you can get it with a twin turbo V6 (EcoBoost) engine if you like. But you don’t have to, unless you want AWD.

@leejayndezmom I worked at a Benz dealer for many years.

I am very familiar with

The R class
The M272 V6 engine
The 722.9 7speed automatic trans


You have no idea how many cylinder heads I replaced on those engines
Other COMMON engine problems required the engine to be taken out of the vehicle, so that it could be repaired on an engine stand

You have no idea how many transmissions I repaired for mechanical problems.

That is a very early model of a very problematic engine
That is a fairly early model of a very problematic transmission.

There were NUMEROUS bulletins, updates, etc. dealing with the transmission. Several of the transmission problems were mechanical in nature. Some had to do with software.

Bottom line?

If that car has the original engine, you’re asking for trouble

If that car has the original transmission and/or doesn’t have ALL the latest updates, you’re asking for trouble.

I realize that Edmunds and Consumer Reports might not see things my way, but I worked on them first hand.

Steer clear of that Benz.

Generally speaking, the more high end the car and the more bells and whistles on it the higher the maintenance and repair costs will be.

Buying a vehicle because it’s stylish is not a good reason to buy any vehicle. You can find kid and sporting equipment space in many other vehicles that are much cheaper to buy and maintain; although granted a Chevy Tahoe doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Benz.

DB is correct as usual by pointing out that people who work on cars often have a different perspective.