Mercedes-Benz announced its new R-Class vehicle yesterday. I got a quick look at it last week while visiting MBUSA headquarters in New Jersey, and it adds more evidence to my conviction that wagons are back. Of course, most automakers don't want to identify their models as wagons, because it still carries connotations of what your parents used to drive you and your friends to the pizza parlor in the '70s. However, consumers are starting to turn away from SUVs because of their poor mileage. Shrink down an SUV and you have a wagon.
Mercedes-Benz calls the R-Class a Tourer, a venerable and classy kind of designation that avoids the suburban wagon connotation. And even though the body is wagonlike, the interior is more Learjet. You won't find bench seats holding four kids across in the R-Class. Each of the three rows features two individual seats, with the front and middle separated by a console. With Mercedes-Benz leather and luxury (and excessively crowded airports), the R-Class should spur executive road trips all over the county. I'll have more on the R-Class after my test-drive next week.