As we've heard from several luxury automakers recently, the full-size SUV market isn't dead. There will always be customers with the means to purchase the biggest and most luxurious SUVs on the market. The total number of big SUV sales will never be as high as it was during the SUV binge of the 1990s, but these vehicles represent too much potential profit for automakers to abandon the segment. There are a few ways to continue offering big SUVs once the more aggressive CAFE regulations take effect. One would be simply to continue selling heavy gas guzzlers and just pay the required fines. Another way is to use diesel engines, hybrid systems, and lighter weight materials.
Mercedes, along with every other German automaker, sees diesel engines as the low-hanging fruit on the quest to fuel economy. Everyone knows diesel engines are incredibly popular in Europe and these powerplants are particularly suited to heavy SUVs that may tow trailers or haul lots of adults around. The lack of horsepower is rarely an issue and the abundance of torque gives you the illusion of decent acceleration. If you have a genuine use for a large SUV, at least Mercedes is giving you a way to feel less guilty with the Bluetec diesel option.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Producer