2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class

NEW YORK — Since its inception the Mercedes-Benz R-Class has always seemed like the family outsider. 

It had all the technology and luxury features one would expect from what’s often referred to as the “world’s most prestigious brand” but something seemed different. The good doctors at MB went to work and corrected the discrepancy – it had a different front-end look from its siblings.

For 2011 the new-generation R-Class has a completely redesigned front section with styling cues taken from the company’s saloon (no, not the tavern down the street…a saloon is a sedan with a separate trunk – “boot” if you will) and SUVs.

That’s not the only thing that sets the 2011 R-Class apart from its predecessor. While it retains its signature versatility and room, Mercedes has added two-tone interior appointments where the base color almond beige can be combined with the contrasting color mocha brown. It gives the already-luxurious interior an even richer look.

It’s a car that exerts its heritage on all types of roads. We drove through a variety of conditions from construction zones to freeways and from rural roads to big-city driving and there’s little this vehicle can’t master. The long-wheelbase model will be the only model sold in the United States. Its permanent all-wheel drive ensures weather conditions won’t deter it.

The 2011 R-Class can be ordered in two variants in the U.S. — a 3.5-liter gas engine V-6 making 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 making 210 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Both are mated to the latest-generation 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission. Seating can be configured for six or seven so customize away. Load it up with stuff, too. It has over 87 cubic feet of cargo volume.

Prices start in the over-$50k range and that customer will not likely find one much better in the class than the 2011 Mercedes-Benz where versatility starts with “R.”

— Al Vinikour