Autos: Test Drive: R-Class

Mercedes' plush, powerful tourer almost makes the station wagon sexy

Mercedes designates its 2006 R-Class models as "sports tourers." Which is to say the R-Class isn't so much an SUV or a minivan--there's already a new M-Class for 2006--so much as a station wagon with a very serious superiority complex. The six leather seats practically wait at attention. The overly busy command-center dashboard console wants to trade business cards with a Gulfstream V.

Although Mercedes seems to be positioning the R-Class as the ultimate in leisure travel, the car does not want to kick back; it wants to kick butt. The R-500 ($56,275; the R-350, with a smaller engine, starts at...

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