When Mercedes-Benz showed the Vision GST (Grand Sports Tourer) concept at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, it wasn’t just a one-off showcar but a new type of vehicle for the company. The GST was the basis for what would become the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, a car that can best be described as a luxury touring wagon.
Part minivan, part station wagon, part “what were they thinking?” the Mercedes-Benz R-Class is several cars rolled into one. Although the R-Class isn’t quite as roomy as a minivan and only features six standard seats (a seventh seat is optional), it is essentially a luxury family hauler for those who would never consider owning a traditional minivan. Of course, the R-Class isn’t as versatile as a real minivan. Its traditional hinged rear doors, for instance, aren’t as family-friendly as a minivan’s sliding doors. Styling is another area where the R seems to come up short — at least in the realm of luxury vehicles.
Still, for those who can afford it, the R-Class is roomy, luxurious and available with two different engines, not to mention just about all of Benz’s latest techno toys. It also comes standard with all-wheel drive for extra traction in inclement weather. For those wanting a versatile luxury vehicle that deftly sidesteps the perceived stigma of a minivan (or an SUV, for that matter), the Mercedes-Benz R-Class might make sense.