"I need to haul some old junk out to the dump; could I take your Mercedes?" Outside of maybe a few Unimog and Sprinter cargo van owners, few would have ever heard that question. But it's likely to become more common after the debut of the all-new Mercedes X-Class pickup truck. The mid-size X-Class combines the rugged off-road-ready attitude and bed-full of hauling space pickup trucks are known for, with the premium look and feel of a true Mercedes.
Just a few years ago, a Mercedes-Benz pickup would have only existed inside an April Fool's joke. But Mercedes sees potential in the global mid-size pickup market, citing estimates of 43 percent growth by 2026. It believes that mid-size pickups will incorporate more and more passenger car features and comforts, and it wants to get out at the front of the trend. Toward that end, it showed the Nissan Navara-based X-Class concept last October, and now it has followed through with the production version – the literal Mercedes of pickup trucks.
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"The segment for mid-size pickups is ripe for a premium vehicle," says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "With the X-Class we will open up this segment to new customer groups, just as we redefined the off-road segment with the M-Class more than 20 years ago. Our pickup convinces as a workhorse, yet also as a family and lifestyle vehicle."
A mid-size pickup might seem like a drastic departure for a company that's recently had its employees developing stretched, armored ultra-premiums built for kings and business tycoons, but Mercedes certainly isn't unfamiliar with hard-nosed work vehicles. Between its vans and beastly Unimogs, it has plenty of history developing torquey, load-hauling vehicles built for getting work done.
With the X-Class, Mercedes has done some serious work itself, finding just the right balance of work truck capability and passenger car-like comfort to make the five-seat truck an international jack-of-all-trades. It promises a fully capable pickup truck with Mercedes-style design and driving dynamics, a truck that's as suited to European urbanites and adventurers as it is to Argentinian farmers and Australian contractors.
The X-Class is built atop a ladder frame and comes with comfort-tuned suspension – a multi-link solid axle in the rear and double wishbones up front. Coil springs can be found on both the front and rear suspensions, and Mercedes promises a smooth ride and proper handling, whether hauling heavy cargo, kicking up dirt and rock splinters off-road, or cruising the highway. The truck offers 8 in (202 mm) of ground clearance as standard in Europe, with a 20-mm lift available optionally in Europe and coming standard in other markets. Mercedes complements the 124-in (3,150-mm) wheelbase with 64.3-in (1,632-mm) front and 64-in (1,625-mm) rear tracks.
Mercedes is offering two 2.3-liter four-cylinder diesel engine options at launch, the 161-hp turbo X 220 d and the 188-hp biturbo X 250 d. Both will be offered in left- and right-hand drive models with rear-wheel or selectable 4Matic all-wheel drive. The 164-hp X 200 gas four will be available in select markets, only as a left-hand, rear-wheel drive. Mercedes will pair these engines with a standard six-speed manual, offering a seven-speed automatic as an option for the 188-hp X 250 d.
In 2018, Mercedes will launch the top-level X 350 d, a 255-hp V6 diesel with 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque, permanent 4Matic AWD, and a 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. This model will also have the option of the Dynamic Select drive mode system with Comfort, ECO, Sport, Manual and Offroad options.
Mercedes offers a rear differential lock optionally. The X-Class has a 23.6-in (600-mm) fording depth and 28.8/23.8/22° approach/departure/ramp break-over angles, dependent upon suspension set-up.
When it comes to moving big things from A to B, the X-Class offers up to 7,700 lb (3.5 tonnes) of towing and 2,300 lb (1,042 kg) of payload. And just in case you were wondering how that payload translates into hauling bulk amounts of beer, Mercedes points out you could throw up to seventeen 50-liter beer barrels in back – a party if we've ever heard of one. Front and rear internally vented disc brakes pull the pickup and its load to stop.
On the styling front, Mercedes has carried the X-Class concept's basic shape and look over to the production version while refining and sharpening some of the design elements within the 210.2-in-long (5,340-mm-long) package. Surprising no one, the tailgate-wrapping lighting strip from the X-Class "stylish explorer" concept has been replaced with a more traditional set of left and right taillights.
Up front, Mercedes has further developed the apron into a polished design emphasizing width. The headlights are more robust than the concept lamps, and the dual-louvre grille follows the "powerful adventurer" version of the X-Class concept in favor of the single-louvre design on the "stylish explorer."
The X-Class bed measures 5.2 x 5.1 x 1.6 ft (1,587 x 1,560 x 474 mm, L x W x H) and is designed to accommodate a European pallet between the wheel arches. It includes standard cargo lighting and a 12V outlet. A step built into the rear bumper provides easy loading/unloading access, and the truck can be ordered without the bumper for a full 180 degrees of tailgate swing.
Helping the X-Class find a place in the broad middle ground between no-fuss workers, off-roaders and everyday drivers, Mercedes has developed three X-Class trims. The basic Pure is the most utilitarian of the bunch, focused on the traditional work customer but with enough elevated design to remind the driver it's a Mercedes. The Progressive trim ups the level of Mercedes comfort, creating a dual-personality truck for business and personal use. The flagship Power trim brings a higher level of styling, comfort and equipment, designed for urban customers and those looking for a sporty, stylish truck for leisure activities in the wild.
Many of the specifics separating the packages, like upholsteries and leather trims, are located inside the doors, but there are also exterior differences. The Pure package includes unpainted front and rear bumpers, while the Progressive's bumpers are done in body-color paint. The Power package has a chromed rear bumper and chrome underbody protection up front.
Inside, Mercedes has borrowed from its other passenger vehicles to create a more premium pickup experience for driver and passengers. The 8.4-in freestanding display hails from the V-Class and runs Mercedes' COMAND Online multimedia system with hard-disk navigation. Multimedia voice control is available, and a multifunctional touchpad puts further control at the driver's fingertips. The integrated communication module with SIM card allows owners to access real-time traffic, use Mercedes me connect services and pull up vehicle information on a smartphone.
The rounded analog gauges are inspired by those in the V- and C-Classes, and the trim around the instrument panel also borrows from Mercedes passenger cars. The cluster includes a 5.4-in color multimedia display controlled by inputs on the multifunctional steering wheel.
Seat and upholstery options vary according to trim. For instance, the Power package includes a standard set of electrically adjustable front seats with two-way lumbar adjustment and man-made leather and microfiber upholstery. Leather is available optionally. All in all, six upholstery options are available in the X-Class, and Mercedes says the truck leads its segment in available materials and colors.
Safety-wise, the X-Class has seven airbags standard and i-Size attachment points for two child seats. Available driver assistance and safety technologies include active brake assist, lane keeping assist, traffic sign assist, trailer stability assist, tire pressure monitoring, emergency calling and a 360-degree camera.
The X-Class is available in Germany for €37,294 (approx. US$43,000), which includes 19 percent VAT. It will roll out around Europe in November, followed by early 2018 launches in South Africa and Australia and Early 2019 launches in Argentina and Brazil. The Renault-Nissan Alliance will build the trucks alongside their own pickups in Barcelona and later in Cordoba, Argentina. In house-designed options and enhancements include a bed canopy, side bars and tonneau covers.
The X-Class is introduced in the video below.