Even though the crossover segment is the hot spot in the automotive market, the Mercedes-Benz R-Class has never really gained traction. According to Mercedes-Benz, they will be dropping the R-Class from American showrooms at the end of the 2012 model year due to slow sales.
Mercedes-Benz sold only 293 R-Class crossovers in January and February of this year, down some 30% over the already low numbers from this time last year. The company says it will continue building the R-Class for export to Mexico, China and Canada though at least 2015.
The R-Class is currently available both a gasoline and diesel V6. The $52,690 R350 4Matic comes standard with all-wheel drive and has a 3.5 liter 302 hp V6 engine. The R350 BlueTEC features a 3.0 liter clean diesel V6 which delivers 210 hp and starts at 53,840. Towing capacity is as high as 3,500 lbs.
Why in such a hot segment sales so dismal? The first iteration had what many considered to be droopy if not downright ugly styling. While the redesign two years ago went along way to putting lipstick on the pig, the R-Class still resembles a mini-van in profile.
While the R-Class made great sense on paper and is arguably a better value than the Mercedes-Benz M and GL Class SUV’s, its all about image. The R-Class can seat seven passengers comfortably and deliver better handling than the SUV models with a higher center of gravity than the R-Class. It just doesn’t have the cool factor that gets people writing the big checks.
Having test driven the R-Class it still presents a family with needs for a 3rd row of seating plus the room for luggage and gear a great option. It handles more like a Mercedes-Benz sedan than a truck and is likely a vehicle your local dealerships would be more willing to part with for a song. If this sounds good, don’t wait. They wont be around forever.