March 20, 2012

Oh R They? R-Class Unpopular, To Be Discontinued In US

So the R-Class is going the way of Seal and Heidi Klum's marriage. MBUSA sold under 3000 of the 6-seat not-a-minivans in 2011, and only 300 in the first three months of 2012. And so the model will be dropped from the US lineup for 2013.

Because basically, MBUSA just wants to sell third row-lovers giant, lumbering SUVs like the GL-Class instead of weirdly elongated wagon/minivan things. Which, America gets the Mercedeses we deserve.

Though America also gets to keep producing the R-Class through 2015. Because somehow, Mexico, Canada, and China are all buying and loving these beasts just fine. How does that make any sense at all? It does not.

motoramic via dt senior minivan correspondent jjdaddy-o]

1 Comment

The R Class was pretty poorly conceived from the beginning. It's advantages over the GL Class are limited to handling and maybe 1-2 mpg (only direct comparison is with the diesel engine that's available in both). The car is indicative of the luxury car makers concerns with respect to meeting the needs of families while retaining whatever brand image they have developed. MB clearly saw that there's a market for wealthy families who don't want an SUV. But in their effort to make it clear they were not offering a minivan they avoided certain key features that are associated with minivans such as seating for 7-8 and sliding rear doors. (It turns out these are pretty important features for families.) So the R-Class ends up almost looking liking a minivan while seating only 1 more person than a E-Class wagon (and actually 1 less person if you count the rear facing seat in the wagon). Not a great formula.
The luxury car makers are dabbling in the 3 row crossover market now (see Buick Enclave, Infiniti JX, Lincoln MKT) but they continue to avoid a true minivan. Maybe that makes sense. Certainly more sense than the half-step MB made with the R-Class.

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