Mercedes-Benz’s foray into the pickup truck market begins in earnest with their new luxury X-Class. As the new truck begins to arrive into international markets, what is the US missing out on?
In a landscape dominated by giants, the American mid-size truck market often comes in second best in sales compared to its full-sized counterparts. While the US mid-size truck options will receive a bit of a shakeup with the return of the Ford Ranger in 2019, international markets will get the European brand’s first attempt at luxurifying the pickup truck.
Named the X-Class, the Mercedes-Benz truck boasts the same chassis as the Nissan Navara but will come complete with additional Mercedes features and tech not available on its donor car. The X-Class comes with four engine options, one petrol and three diesel, badged with Mercedes-Benz’s familiar naming structure- X200, X220d, X250d, X350d. The latter features a 6-cylinder turbo diesel engine that pumps out 255hp and 550nm of torque, but will only arrive a few months after the rest of the offerings go on sale.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class pushes the boundaries of the classic pickup. @Daimler_CV pic.twitter.com/56yFhgPV3V
— Mercedes-Benz (@MercedesBenz) August 18, 2017
The first batch of trucks recently arrived here in Australia and will come in three grades, Pure, Progressive, and its highest trim level, Power. Mercedes Benz has promised that the X-Class will lead the line in luxury pick up trucks, offering up a slew of nice trimmings that should entice those who want a little luxury to go with their off-roading. The Power level trim will come with its seats upholstered in man-made Artico leather, LED hi-po headlights, Mercedes Benz’s COMMAND infotainment system, a 360-degree camera and PARKTRONIC assist. In Australia, the X-Class can boast that it is the first truck to feature as standard, autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
Paying more for the pointed star
The X-Class will come at a premium of course, with the added features and finish demanding a higher price point than competitor brands in the segment. In Australia, the X-Class kicks off its pricing for its base X220d at $45,450 ($35,418 in US dollars) before it skyrockets up to a pricy $64,500 ($50,300 in USD) for the X250d in Power trim. This is before they release the X350d pricing, which is expected to be north of the 70k mark. It all seems a little bit expensive for a utility vehicle whose segment leaders in Australia ask for about $60,000 in their highest specs. This is all before you add expensive options like genuine leather seats or A-Class styling (each asking for more than a thousand bucks a pop).
To compare, if you go to the Chevy website and build and price a Colorado, spec’d in its Midnight Edition with additional Sat Nav, a year’s worth of On-Star support and for fun, a Cat-Back exhaust, it comes to USD$41,630. I don’t know about you, but if I had to choose, I’d pick the bowtie over the pointed star any day.
An UnAmerican truck
It’s no surprise that Mercedes Benz has said the US market isn’t an option for its X-Class at present time. You could say that while the Colorado, the returning Ranger, the GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma hold a unique spot in the truck market in the United States, there really is only one grand winner in the overall truck segment. The land of the free, the home of the brave, is well and truly the domain of the F-150. Large trucks continue to dominate sales in the United States, with Ford’s F-Series and Chevy’s Silverado leading all car sales in the United States. Ram Trucks round off the top four with only the Nissan Rogue sneaking into the top three. A European brand releasing an expensive truck into an established segment is probably a battle Mercedes Benz knows it can’t win at the moment.
So is America missing out on the X-Class?
The short answer is no. Even here in Australia, there are other trucks probably better value for money. Especially since the X-Class itself shares a platform with another brand that has already carved out its niche here.
If someday the X-Class makes its way to American shores and you’re given the option to buy an X-Class over a Colorado, a new Ranger or a Tacoma, would you? Probably not.