Although its key mechanicals all carry over, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class made its world debut in New York displaying a desperately needed visual revamp that the automaker hopes will pump a healthy measure of corporate personality -- and some must-have magic -- into its versatile but perennially under-purchased people mover.

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Heading up the profile-raising changes on the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class is a complete remake of its front quarters. The new look brings a bigger, bolder grille, redesigned headlamps, LED running lamps and an edgier fascia treatment complemented by a taller, more expansive hood and new fenders, all of which help bring it closer in line with the passenger car side of the family. Although the changes are far less dramatic at the rear, the new R-Class does get a redrawn soft cap and LED taillamps plus a new lower valence and tailpipe treatments. Rounding out the visual tweaks are revised side mirrors and redesigned 19-inch alloy wheels. For 2011, the R-Class also will offer a Sport Appearance Package that nets 20-inch AMG alloy rims and adds smoked rear lamp lenses.

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Inside its well-appointed and easily reconfigurable cabin, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class boasts only minor trim/color tweaks but now offers the choice of Eucalyptus wood in place of the standard Burl Walnut. Whether seating six, or with available space for seven, the R-Class features roster includes dual-zone auto climate control, an in-dash six-disc DVD/CD changer with optional COMAND hard-drive navigation, harmon/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound audio, Bluetooth connectivity and a megaload of M-B occupant protection features from PRE-SAFE accident prediction and NECK-PRO active head restraints to eight airbags. Buyers can opt for real leather in place of the standard MB-Tex and add other personalization touches like a Panorama glass roof, adaptive cruise control, Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping, Blind Spot Assist, a rearview camera, heated second- and third-row seats and rear-seat entertainment systems.

As in 2010, the 2011 Mercedes-Benz R-Class will be available in the U.S. with two engine choices, both backed by a seven-speed automatic transmission and M-B's 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 in the R350 makes 266 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque while the R350 BlueTEC's 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel turns out 210 horses but a stout 400 lb.-ft. of torque. Expect the new R-Class to arrive in dealers this summer.

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