Even though diesel is topping $5 a gallon in some areas of the U.S., Mercedes-Benz believes that its new line of 50-state clean-diesel Blutec vehicles will account for 15 percent of SUV and crossover sales. Ready to go on sale this October, Mercedes-Benz will debut the new R 320 BlueTec, ML 320 BlueTec and GL 320 BlueTec.
All are powered by a 3.0L V6 BlueTec diesel engine that produces 211-hp with a peak torque of 398 lb-ft. All models are 20 to 33 percent more fuel-efficient than their gasoline counterparts. Not to mention the payback period is two years faster than that of a hybrid SUV. Flaunting some figures, Mercedes-Benz says that the ML 320 BlueTec can travel up 600 miles on a single fill, while the GL 320 BlueTec can average a combined fuel-economy of 24mpg and the RL 320 BlueTec improves fuel-economy by 20 percent compared to its gasoline brother.
Mercedes-Benz says that it will charge a premium of about $1,000 for its new diesel SUVs and crossovers, said Stephen Cannon, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz USA.
That’s nice, but if you take a look at the ML 320 BlueTec and the GL 320 BlueTec and compare it to their closest rivals, say the Lexus RX for the ML and the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid for the GL, things don’t seem too bright for Mercedes-Benz.
The RX400h all-wheel-drive starts at $41,580, almost $4,000 over the base RX 350 all-wheel-drive. What Cannon forgot to mention was that the base ML starts at $44,875 and if you add a $1,000 premium to that, you’re looking at almost $46,000 for the ML 320 BlueTec (close to the price of the current ML 320 CDI). That’s almost $4,420 more than the Lexus RX400h. Not to mention that the Lexus RX400h gets an EPA estimated fuel-economy of 27/24mpg (city/highway) while the ML 320 BlueTec 18/24mpg.
Now let’s take a look at the GL and its closest rival, the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid. The Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid starts at $50,490. With the $1,000 extra premium for the GL 320 BlueTec you can be sure to spend close to $57,000. Fuel-economy wise, the EPA rates the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid at 21/22mpg (city/highway) and Mercedes-Benz says the GL 320 BlueTec will get 17/23.
So you decide for yourself. But we say the Japanese and the Americans have the Germans beat on this one.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required) (with our own little spin to it)