What is it about American drivers? They’ll pay a premium and sacrifice some everyday functionality to get an SUV that looks rugged but likely never sees an off-road trail. Offer them a wagon, minivan or anything that looks more like a people mover and they go running.
That seems to have been the curse that kept the old Mercedes-Benz R-Class bound to the bottom of the U.S. sales charts. It was a lavish and well-appointed vehicle that seemed to have a hard time finding a distinct niche and so was largely written off by American motorists – even though it received generally favorable reviews from both the media and those few buyers who actually drove one home.
So, the German maker is giving it one more try, and with the 2011 remake of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, it’s not making the same mistake. For one thing, you likely won’t hear the maker’s marketing folk refer to the new model as a “Grand Sport Tourer,” whatever that means, anymore.
Even more luxurious — and functional — than before, the critical update for the new model-year focuses on front and rear-end styling, giving the roomy people carrier a bit more of a crossover-ute look that should enhance its appeal.