Mercedes X-Class Pickup Revealed: It’s Not For Us
Mercedes-Benz unveiled two concept versions of its first production pickup truck in Stockholm, Sweden. Named the X-Class, Mercedes has defined this new vehicle as “the first true premium pickup.” It will be launched in late 2017.
Why hold the reveal event in Stockholm instead of, say, Dallas, Texas, ground zero for upscale pickup trucks? After all, Texas takes its high-end pickups very seriously, buying more F-150 King Ranches, GMC Sierra Denalis, and Ram Laramie Longhorns than any other location. Shouldn’t this be the place where Mercedes stakes its claim?
The answer is no, because the U.S.A. will not be getting the new Mercedes X-Class pickup. Not for a while, anyway. According to the company, the key markets for the X-Class will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.
Interestingly, the X-Class has been created by Mercedes-Benz Vans. This is the division that makes the Sprinter and Metris vans that are sold here. Good move, Mercedes, having the new truck designed by your light truck division!
Why A Mercedes Pickup?
While we may think of North America as the largest pickup market, there are many other places around the globe where pickups have become a popular and aspirational type of vehicle. Just as in America, these other markets have come to see the versatility and usefulness of pickup trucks not just for work, but as lifestyle vehicles. This is also why the X-Class will be made in only one cab style – a 4-door, with seats for 5.
Another important point to keep in mind is that the Mercedes entry is a mid-size pickup, not a full-size. It will be of a comparable size to other pickups in the markets where it will initially be marketed. But it will likely carry a premium price in those markets, putting itself on a pedestal that the other mass-market pickups will be unable to touch. The Mercedes will be the only luxury entry in the segment – at least for now. Mercedes calls it, “…the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle.”
Another reason that the X-Class will not be introduced here at first may have to do with the competition in the mid-size and full-size categories. There are many U.S. domestic brands that are well-established, and their buyers are very loyal. Full-size pickups sell in large numbers here, and the mid-size category is seeing a resurgence. This is thanks to the all-new GM Colorado/Canyon twins, which have been received very well. So well, in fact, that Ford has decided to bring its mid-size Ranger back to the U.S. The Toyota Tacoma is another significant player with an extremely loyal owner base.
One more reason? Mercedes may want to work ALL of the bugs out of this totally new (for them) type of vehicle before they release it here. They will have only one chance to get it right here, so they are likely looking at Phase 1 of their plan as a dress rehearsal for the U.S.
X-Class Is A Real Pickup
In case you were wondering whether this would be a unibody-type competitor to the Honda Ridgeline, relax. Mercedes has announced that the X-Class will have a ladder-type frame. The top model will combine a high-torque six-cylinder engine and permanent all-wheel drive. In other words, the X-Class has real truck cred.
In terms of payload, the X-Class is described as a one-ton pickup. Towing capacity is up to 3.5 tons. The suspension features wide axles, a five-link rear axle with coil springs, and a precisely calibrated spring/damper set-up for ride comfort, on and off the road.
The all-wheel-drive system will combine an electronic traction system, a transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks. The traction system and the electrically operated on-demand differential locks will channel the power to where traction is best. Under extreme off-road conditions, the rear differential and the inter-axle differential can be locked. This will make it easier to deal with difficult obstacles and inclines.
Two Different X-Class Concepts
Mercedes presented two different concept versions of the X-Class. These are called the Powerful Adventurer and the Stylish Explorer. Ford may take issue with that last one!
The Powerful Adventurer is the rugged persona of the X-Class, possessing all the strengths of a classic pickup – tough, functional, strong, and with off-road capability. Raised up high, with huge 35×11.50 tires and matte carbon-fiber fender flares, the Powerful Adventurer is finished in lemonax metallic paint. Aluminum skid plates and a front winch mean it’s tough!
The Stylish Explorer, painted in white metallic, is the version meant to convince buyers that while the X-Class may be a truck, it can also be a replacement for a luxury car. The grille mimics Mercedes coupes and the rear features a continuous LED light strip in a chrome surround on the tailgate. The 22-inch alloy wheels with anthracite chrome finish and street tires make this X-Class fit for the urban jungle!
Manufactured By Renault-Nissan
The X-Class will launch in Europe in late 2017 at “an attractive price.” The pickup will be manufactured in cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Production for the European, Australian and South African markets will start at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain. The X-Class for the Latin American market will roll off the assembly lines at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, starting in 2018.
This expands the cooperation between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance which began six years ago. Daimler currently supplies its Mercedes 4-cylinder turbo engine to Nissan for use in the Infiniti QX30 and Q50. This X-Class production arrangement gives Mercedes a fast and cost-effective entrance to the mid-size pickup segment, which Nissan has decades of experience in. It also allows optimal use of available production capacity.
While it is not a major player in the U.S., Nissan is the second-largest manufacturer of mid-size, one-ton pickups in the world. Relationships like these between companies like these are proof that mergers are not the only solution to today’s automotive manufacturing challenges.
Time will tell how well the X-Class will do sales-wise, and when it will arrive on our shores. But don’t bet against Mercedes. They started the mass-luxury SUV market with the M-Class in 1997, and they could do it again with the X-Class pickup!