2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 1
 2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 1
 2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 2
 2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 3
 2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 4
 2011 Merecedes-Benz R-Class - 5

From the outset, the R-Class was a different type of vehicle for Mercedes-Benz. Presented as the Vision GST (Grand Sports Tourer) concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, the 'tourer' morphed into the R-Class, which was introduced in 2005 as a 2006 model.

This high-end vehicle with "wagon versatility and sports sedan performance for six adults" garnered mixed reviews. It didn't fit into any profile—the R-Class wasn't a wagon, it wasn't a minivan, it wasn't an SUV. It was also an unusual design for Mercedes-Benz – one that, in fact, didn't look like it belonged in the family. What the R-Class did have going for it was a roomy, light interior with a panoramic roof and feminine looking lean lines.

The new generation 2011 R-Class has changed its face with a profile that fits the Mercedes lineage. Decidedly more masculine, the car shows off with a bolder front view, a broader radiator grille and chrome headlights. A restyled rear sports LED taillights and a bigger bumper with integrated reflector, exhaust pipes and black diffuser. Brawnier looking than it's predecessor, the 2011 R-Class crossover is the roomiest car Mercedes has ever built. But despite the size of this family hauler, the ride proved to be supple, calm and quiet.

Both the R350 and the R350 BlueTEC are equipped with all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Fitted with three rows (optional seven seats), the R-Class has a total of 85.0 cu. ft. of cargo room.

Both versions of the R-Class produce plenty of power for highways or hills. The R350 has a 268-hp 3.5L V6 engine, 15/19 mpg (city/highway).

The R350 BlueTEC is equipped with a 210-hp 3.0L V6 turbo diesel engine, 18/24 mpg (city/highway).

Now, you may ask, why does the BlueTEC get more miles per gallon? Here's the short explanation. BlueTEC is Mercedes-Benz' branded version of two nitrogen oxide (NO) systems used in their diesel engines to reduce pollutant emissions. One is a urea-based reductant called AdBlue, the other is called DeNOx, which uses an oxidizing catalytic converter and particulate filter combined with other nitrogen oxide reducing systems.

As many green-minded groupies know, diesel engines are more efficient when it comes to MPGs, but the particulate and other emissions that make their way out the tailpipe are typically higher than those from gasoline engines. BlueTEC lowers the amount of particulates released in exhaust fumes.

If you opt for the BlueTEC version, it comes appropriately equipped with low-rolling resistance tires. Standard features for both models include; alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, heated outside mirrors, new wood trim, hill start assist, Mercedes PRESAFE, dual-zone climate control, a 3-D instrument cluster and integrated compass in the rearview mirror.

All the 2011 R-Class models will be on sale in August of 2010.

author photo

Holly Reich writes about cars, travel, lifestyle and more. Her work has been featured in publications that include: Elite Traveler, The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and The Boston Herald. She contributes monthly to Motor Matters syndicate and her blog, "Riffs on Rides," appears on uptownlife.net.

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