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2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class cosmetic surgery

The luxury crossover segment is heating up as most buyers stray away from more established SUVs offerings like the Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX56. For…

The luxury crossover segment is heating up as most buyers stray away from more established SUVs offerings like the Cadillac Escalade and Infiniti QX56. For buyers who want that sort of boxy utility, Mercedes-Benz offers its hot-selling GL-Class.

The 2011 R-Class has a bit of nip and tuck treatment in the off-season. Receiving both a nose job and a butt-lift, the R now boasts the brand’s more modern style. With a newly redesigned expanse of sheetmetal forward of the A-pillar, the R350 now appears to be from the same family as the rest of the cars in the M-B stable.

In addition to the grille, the front end features daylight running lights or new chrome-ringed fog lamps in the grille’s lower bout. Overall, the appearance is newer, wider, and, in M-B speak, more assertive. In the rear, the exhaust finishers are integrated into the rear fascia. Among the safety features, Mercedes-Benz Blind-spot assist, Pre-Safe and Neck-Pro front seat head restraints.

Configurable as a four, five, six or seven-passenger vehicle, it can be equipped with center consoles between the middle row of seats, as well as a back row that reclines. The amount of cargo space depends only on how many seats you fold forward, or order in the first place.

Beyond that, the R-Class features the same profile as seen in last year’s car. The R is available in Europe as a short and long wheelbase car. In North America, it will only be available as a long-wheelbase model. All US models will be 4Matic-equipped, with Mercedes-Benz’s all-wheel-drive system.

The R350 engines share the seven-speed automatic transmission. Do-it-yourselfers can row the tranny with plastic steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The R 350 rides on a suspension comprised of upper and lower control arms, coil springs, shocks and stabilizer bar in front and a load-leveling air suspension out back.

Why you would buy it? As far as crossovers go, it’s one of the slickiest of the bunch – and it looks about a million times better than before. You think the Town Car is the ultimate luxury transport device. Starting at over $50,000 in America, this crossover vehicle is clearly not for everyone, as sales have indicated in the past.

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