Mercedes-Benz Reveals Production 2018 X-Class Pickup
Still No Plans to Bring Navara-Based Truck to U.S.
Mercedes-Benz Vans unveiled the production version of the upcoming X-Class pickup today, showing off the company’s newest utility offering. Eventually destined for key markets in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, the 2018 X-Class will go on sale in Europe this November. The company quoted its German starting price at 37,294 Euro (or $43,104), including a 19-percent value-added tax. If the X-Class ever shows up in the U.S., expect it to start closer to $35,000, plus applicable taxes.
Available in three model lines, Mercedes-Benz is positioning the X-Class as the first pickup from a premium automaker (“professional-grade” GMC apparently doesn’t count). Die-hard truck owners will likely be most interested in the Pure, which is designed for “classic, robust use,” according to Benz. The X-Class Progressive will offer families and lifestyle buyers a more comfortable, luxurious ride, while image-conscious urbanites are the target market for the X-Class Power.
The base engine for the X-Class will be a gasoline I-4 producing 165 hp and 176 lb-ft (the X200). From there, the X-Class is available with three diesel engines: the I-4–powered, 163hp and 297–lb-ft X220d; the I-4–powered, 190hp and 332–lb-ft X250d; and the V-6–powered, 257hp and 406–lb-ft X350d. A six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic will be available, as will rear-wheel drive, part-time four-wheel drive, and full-time four-wheel drive, although the company didn’t say which transmissions and transfer cases would be available with each engine. Notably, the part-time 4Matic system will come with a two-speed transfer case and available locking rear differential.
In its most capable form, Mercedes-Benz says the X-Class will be able to tow 7,716 pounds, with a maximum payload of 2,205 pounds. Those numbers compare well to the U.S. midsize truck segment’s current capability leader, the Chevrolet Colorado, which features max towing and payload capacities of 7,700 pounds and 1,513 pounds, respectively.
Styling-wise, the X-Class looks about like you’d expect a Mercedes-Benz pickup to look. Mercifully, the company reined in the extraterrestrial styling of the X-Class concept’s front end, giving the production model a more restrained, refined appearance. And if you recognize the Nissan Navara or Renault Alaskan in the exterior midsection, that’s because the X-Class will share its platform and body structure with those pickups. The taillights and cargo box look very similar to the Volkswagen Amarok, another midsize pickup with near-premium aspirations, although the the X-Class has a surprisingly smooth rear fascia.
Inside is where the Benz comes into its own. A variety of interior finishes is available, with six different upholstery options (two of them leather), three different dash trims, and two different headliner choices. The interior is modern and stylish, borrowing more than a few design features from the CLA-Class sedan. Commendably, Benz has done a good job of hiding the X-Class’ Nissan roots, thanks to X-motif HVAC vents, a freestanding infotainment display, and architectural door panel and dashboard designs.
The company is banking on estimates that the midsize pickup market will become even larger in the next eight years, growing from 2.2 million units sold in 2016 to more than 3 million by 2026. As with the SUV boom of the 1990s and 2000s, Benz thinks the segment will become more luxurious, positioning itself as a pioneer in the same way the old Mercedes ML brought luxury to the sport-ute market.
However, we’d like to point out that one of the world’s largest pickup markets is North America. The Sprinter has become a cult legend here in the U.S., proving this side of the world is open to the Mercedes-as-utility-vehicle formula. If Benz can make a business case for a pickup costing 35 to 60 grand, we think it’d make a fine addition to the company’s dealerships.
Source: Mercedes-Benz Vans