Mercedes X-Class pickup (2018-2020)
"The Mercedes X-Class is a slightly more expensive cousin of the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan that brings a truly upmarket brand to the pickup truck class"
- Powerful engines
- Good handling
- Disappointing interior
- Engine occasionally coarse
- Expensive compared to rivals
Mercedes, BMW and Audi are generally very keen to have competing models in every sector of the car market, but so far Mercedes is the only one of the three to enter the increasingly popular pickup class. The Mercedes X-Class is the only one-tonne pickup you can buy from a ‘premium’ manufacturer as a result; its closest rival is the moderately upmarket Volkswagen Amarok.
Mercedes had never made a pickup truck before the X-Class, so the company turned to Nissan to borrow the underpinnings of the Navara in order to build its own. Mercedes worked hard to ensure the X-Class doesn’t feel like a rebadged Nissan, and it certainly looks and feels like a distinctly more polished product. Some Mercedes fans may feel ambivalent about the foundations of the X-Class, but the Navara underpinnings are at least likely to ensure it’s a robust and reliable pickup.
The X-Class is available with the 2.3-litre diesel from the Navara. It’s a tried-and-tested engine, with two power levels on offer. With a single turbo in the X 200d, there’s 161bhp on tap, while the twin-turbo X 250d gets 187bhp for improved acceleration and towing ability.
Unlike the Navara and Alaskan, there's also a smooth and powerful V6 engine. The X 350d uses a 254bhp 3.0-litre engine that has been proven in luxury Mercedes saloons. The X 350d also has a seven-speed automatic gearbox and a permanent four-wheel-drive system in place of the selectable system offered in less powerful versions.
The X-Class is a comfortable and quiet pickup truck that handles well, with advanced suspension that’s been tuned to soak up bumps better than the Navara it’s based on. All the engine options, both current and forthcoming, give it with plenty of power and make it an excellent car for towing.
The Mercedes X-Class was awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP and features safety kit including autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and traffic-sign recognition. Despite the brand's upmarket appeal, its record for owner satisfaction isn't exactly overwhelming – it finished 26th out of 30 companies in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
If you're looking for a luxurious pickup, the X-Class is about as plush as they get. Top models are pricey, though, and many similarly priced SUVs are more practical for family use.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Despite its rugged looks and sheer size, the X-Class shouldn’t prove too pricey to run, at least with a four-cylinder diesel fitted. The star performer is the 161bhp X 220d, which is claimed to return 37.2mpg and emits 200g/km of CO2. Stepping up to the more powerful 187bhp X 250d drops fuel economy to 35.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 207g/km. The six-cylinder X 350d is far more powerful, but uses more fuel, too – it's claimed to return 33.6mpg, with CO2 emissions of 207g/km.
With a payload capacity of over 1,000kg, most X-Class models are classified as 'light goods vehicles' rather than passenger cars, which means an annual road-tax charge of £260 per year. The classification also brings a fixed annual Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) fee for those who can claim an X-Class as their company vehicle – the £3,230 annual tax is equivalent of £50 a month for a 20% taxpayer, which is less than many SUV drivers pay. The X 350d, though, has a lower maximum payload and doesn't qualify as a light goods vehicle – so company-car users will face the maximum BiK bracket.
Because the X-Class is based on the same underpinnings as the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan, servicing should be much more straightforward than for Mercedes’ more complex SUV models, and parts are expected to be tough and designed to take a few knocks. Mercedes’ three-year warranty isn’t as long as some rivals though, with Toyota providing cover for five-years or 100,000 miles on the Hilux pickup.
Insurance group ratings for the X-Class start at 34 for the X 220d and rise to 38 for the X 250d. Opting for the 'Power' trim level brings the X250 d up a group to 39. The range-topping X 350d has yet to be classified for insurance.
Engines, drive & performance
With a 2.3-litre diesel engine that's shared by the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan, the the entry-level X 200d makes do with a single turbocharger. The 161bhp it produces should be more than adequate for many drivers, but you can only choose it with a six-speed manual gearbox. Upgrading to the X 250d adds a second turbo, a seven-speed automatic gearbox and sees power increase to 187bhp.
Both 2.3-litre engines feel muscular, but the 3.0-litre X 350d is another thing entirely. Boasting 254bhp, it can scorch from 0-62mph in just 7.9 seconds, with the potential to achieve 127mph where it's safe and legal to do so. It's mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which offers manual shifts via steering wheel-mounted paddles. It's very obedient, too – holding whichever gear you select until you tell it otherwise.
All three models offer similar handling, but the extra power of the X 350d exposes the chassis' limitations most starkly. Hard acceleration brings the nose up and the tail down – betraying soft suspension that leads to considerable lean in corners. By comparison, a Mercedes GLE is far more responsive and accurate to drive. However, the X-Class is more than a match for its pickup rivals.
The brakes don't feel particularly at ease with reigning 254bhp in, but the less powerful models don't ask them to work quite so hard. In fact, the same is true of the rest of the X-Class' mechanical package, too – stick to more moderate speeds, and the X-Class demonstrates decent body control in corners, there’s plenty of grip, and, while slow and rather light the steering is consistent and unintimidating. All models are surprisingly quiet too.
Four-cylinder models come with selectable four-wheel drive. In normal driving, power is sent to just the rear wheels for improved economy, but four-wheel drive can be selected by the driver for off-road jaunts. The X 350d, meanwhile, has a multi-mode permanent four-wheel-drive system, with high and low range settings for really tricky terrain.
When Nissan developed the Navara, it was proud of fitting more advanced multi-link rear suspension instead of traditional leaf springs to improve ride comfort. Mercedes has spent even more time fine-tuning it, and the result is the smoothest pickup we’ve tested – even when fitted with large 19-inch alloy wheels.
Interior & comfort
The X-Class is one of the smoothest pickups on the market and there’s extra sound insulation to reduce tyre and wind noise. The sound of the 2.3-litre diesel engine can be intrusive when you rev it hard, but the 3.0-litre diesel rarely produces more than a background murmur. As a result, the X 350d really is at home on long motorway journeys – providing a similarly serene experience to a good SUV.
Inside, the X-Class is by far the most visual appealing pickup you can buy, with an upmarket feel provided by rotary air vents shared with the Mercedes saloon-car range, as well as the brand's trademark tablet-style infotainment screen.
The entry-level Pure trim is basic, with a rather more basic interior and workmanlike 17-inch steel wheels. We imagine it’s mainly aimed at commercial buyers, but it does still get essentials like Bluetooth, air-conditioning and those useful LED lights for the load bed. The mid-spec Progressive trim is more desirable, with alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, automatic wipers, a leather steering wheel and an eight-speaker stereo. It’s more useful too, thanks to rails along the load bed to tether cargo.
The X 350d is only offered in top-spec Power trim, and comes with synthetic leather seats, keyless entry, LED headlights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Otherwise, only the X 350d badge and 'V6 Turbo' lettering on the front wings set it aside from lesser models in the range.
Parktronic, part of the parking package that helps assist with steering and maneuvering when parallel parking, is optional on all trim levels. It costs over £1,000 and can help with those concerned about the X-Class' size when out and about in town.
Practicality & boot space
The X-Class is built to be functional first and foremost and can all but the X 350d can carry 1,042kg in its load bed. You’ll also be able to tow up to 3,500kg, which is equivalent to a horsebox with three horses inside or an eight-metre yacht, according to Mercedes. This gives it an edge over the Fiat Fullback and Toyota Hilux, which can tow 3,100kg and 3,200kg respectively.
Unlike most rivals, the load bed is also illuminated by LED lights mounted beneath the third brake light, helping you see what you’re loading and unloading at night and operated by a switch on the dashboard. Mercedes also fits a handy 12-volt socket to power any accessories you might want to use in the load bed.
It’s worth noting, however, that pickups can be less practical for families than they first appear. For instance, you can’t really put luggage or shopping in an open load bed, because it'll slide around and could get stolen. You’ll either need to carry it inside with you, or invest in a tonneau cover or locking hard-top for the loading bed, along with storage solutions to keep things secure.
Reliability & safety
We’d be surprised if reliability proves to be an issue. That’s because the Nissan Navara that forms the basis for the X-Class is already in its second generation and has proven trustworthy, so Mercedes’ engineers should only have improved upon it. The very nature of a hard-working pickup should also mean it has been built to withstand the abuse of being used commercially, as well as by caring private owners.
In fact, the Mercedes 2.3-litre diesel engine can be found in vans and pickups used all over the globe, with few reports of major shortcomings. It is of slight concern, though, that Mercedes came a disappointing 26th overall out of 30 manufacturers in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with 24% of customers reporting a fault within the first year.
Mercedes owner’s concerns were mainly centred around rear visibility, front seat comfort, running costs and noisy engines. Too few responses were returned for the X-Class to appear in the Driver Power survey, however considering the robustness of the Nissan Navara on which it’s based, we expect it to prove reliable.
The X-Class scored well across the four main categories of the Euro NCAP safety assessment, and achieved the full five stars. Adult occupant protection was rated at 90%, while the X-Class scored 87% in the child occupant protection category. Safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, trailer stabilisation and traffic-sign recognition, along with the mandatory kit like anti-lock brakes and airbags.
Currently, the Toyota Hilux rules the field for safety – as long as its 'Safety Sense' pack is fitted – scoring five stars from Euro NCAP, with a 93% rating for adult occupant protection.
Price, value for money & options
The biggest problem for the X-Class is that it shares so much with the Nissan Navara, yet costs significantly more to buy without offering much to justify it. If you're looking for a powerful, luxury pickup truck then the range-topping X 350d should be on your radar, along with the 3.0-litre V6 Volkswagen Amarok, but those after a workhorse or something more humble will be better off saving their money and buying a pickup wearing a less desirable badge. Families, meanwhile, will find more versatility in a conventional SUV.
Like any Mercedes, the options list is fairly extensive, with features like a reversing camera or 360-degree view particularly attractive, given the size of the X-Class. Other features include a driving mode selector with Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual and Offroad settings, a tailgate that can swing down by 180 degrees instead of 90 and a range of tonneau covers and canopies to cover the load bed.
Mercedes is also offering no less than seven packs of options. Choose the Style Package for the Progressive trim, and tinted glass, electric rear windows, running boards, roof rails, LED exterior lighting (including the headlights) and 18-inch alloy wheels are added for around £2,700.
You can also upgrade the Progressive trim with a Comfort Package featuring eight-way power-adjustable front seats, climate control and Artico leather upholstery for £1,530. A Parking Package adds parking sensors and a 360-degree camera to Progressive and Power trims for £1,150. The Winter Package is standard on Power trim and option on Progressive trim. It should prove popular in the UK, adding heated seats and washer jets for £420.