Mercedes makes a pick-up, what’s so special about a Mercedes Benz Pick-Up Truck anyways?
I had the great pleasure to drive the Mercedes-Benz X 350d on winter roads, here are my findings:
What is the X Class?
The X-Class by Mercedes-Benz is a frame/axle based pick-up truck, built on the Nissan Navara D23 / Renault Alaskan frame.
Are we looking at a Mercedes Benz G-class or a Nissan Navara Pick-Up or a Sprinter Van without a roof?
The smaller brother is the X 250d with a 2.3 or 2.3 turbo diesel engine with all-wheel-drive before. This unit has a lot of “badge-engineering” of a Nissan, but the German engineers really took the Navara D23 / NP300 as a basis and also changed quite a whole lot. Additional frame/ body reinforcement, new front A-arms, other springs, and shock absorbers in addition to corporate design and interior matching Mercedes passenger car standards. The X-Class has additional sound-proof mats on the engine panel, floor and transmission tunnel. Under the hood, the X-Class is closely related to the Navara. The X200 and X250 are fitted with a 2.3-liter Nissan four-cylinder turbo diesel engine in two boost versions (X 220d - 163 hp / 403 Nm, X 250d two turbines connected in series, 190 hp / 450 Nm), and a "Nissan" transmissions - a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic. A Nissan four-wheel drive with rear diff lock as an option seems to work well.
A REAL Mercedes!
The Germans accepted the challenge to actually make the X350 a more Daimler Engineered Pick-up Truck. The three-liter 258-horsepower V6 OM642 turbo diesel engine which is used in the GL, E, and S-classes now powers this Pick-Up. Daimler's own 4Matic all-wheel drive and the German-made seven-speed automatic transmission shifts like a charm. Well Done Stuttgart!
The external resemblance to the Nissan can be found only in the bend of the rear-window shape.
So take a cup of coffee or tea and sit back.
There are no external differences between the X 350d to the X 250d but the X-Class is a typical modern styled Mercedes, without leaving any luxury on the table due to the commercial vehicle nature. The X-class is classified as a commercial truck in many counties, you would never know unless you look into the rear-view mirror and catch a glimpse spacious truck-bed. This truck looks and feels like driving a fully equipped SUV rather than a truck.
In addition to the traditionally expensive branded accessories, for the X-class there is a set of oil-pan/crankcase protection, a decorative arch in the body, soundproofed wing flaps, footboards, and door sills.
Useful and shiny:
Chrome trim on the front bumper looks great, but from an off-road point of view, it is impractical. But they kept it real, a look under the bumper, on the right you can see a full towing loop - [same on the left] behind. Ground clearance is 8.74 inches [222 mm] which is typical for this class of the car.
In the cabin - Mercedes. At first glance, it is more luxurious than ordinary commercial vehicles of the brand - for example, the Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van or Metris Van.
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The feeling of top quality is not quite what you expect from a Mercedes.
The seats of this unit is an optional, leather - sitting in them is normal, the back does not hurt.
The multimedia system of the test machine is “minimal”, with a display of 7.4 inches, bordered by a thick plastic frame. It is controlled from the command corporate selector, but it no longer seems luxurious. In the near future, the X-class will receive a new generation system - with voice control MBUX.
The circular view system is excellent, but so far all the cameras are clean. Eye in front is under the number and get dirty instantly.
In the meantime, the current system does not even have compatibility with Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Well, at least the sound is not bad, and the picture from all-around cameras is of excellent quality. One note - if you want to turn on the system forcibly, you will have to look for a button in the blind zone to the left of the steering wheel above the light control unit.
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The X-Class has an automatic braking system. Optical sign recognition systems and a lane assist assistant are available as options. But the adaptive cruise control does not seem to be an option!.
The class of mid-size pick-ups - a thing in itself. There are fewer options than in the US full-size. Therefore, even being a class leader in options and power supply, the X-class is surprised by the lack of automatic power windows, heated seats and its own climate zone in the rear seats.
As I said at the very beginning, technically, the X 350d is more Mercedes than the Nissan. Under the hood, a V6 Mercedes-Benz OM642 turbo diesel engine developing 258 hp is fitted longitudinally with two batteries (one main, 80 Ah instead of 70 at X 250d, second auxiliary). at 340 rpm and 550 Nm in the range of 1400-3200 rpm.
The engine OM642 LS DE30 LA. in the ML, GL and S class, has a 620 Nm torque at 1600-2400 rpm. So it is obviously governed, potentially to protect the 7G-Tronic tranny.
Four-wheel drive - the classic “trademark”, comes from a two-speed transfer case, flanged to the body of a seven-speed automatic transmission. The center differential distributes the torque between the front and rear axle at a 40:60 ratio.
In 4Matic mode, the redistribution of torque between the axles is carried out using an electromechanical multi-plate clutch, which performs the function of partial blocking of the differential.
In 4H mode, the center differential is locked completely by the mentioned clutch. You can downshift on the go, through the neutral, at speeds up to 30mph [40 kmh] while driving forward, and 2 km.h. when reversing. Reverse switching to an increased number is possible at speeds of, respectively, 50 and 15 mph [70 and 20kmh]. The front suspension is independent, in the rear it has springs, with double levers.
On the move, the X 350d looks more like a good SUV than a utility pick-up, and this is especially clearly seen on asphalt starting from zero.
Firstly, there is a rather heavy steering wheel, which allows you to accurately determine the movement. Compared with the brand's crossovers, there is noticeably less feedback - but still, it is enough for a confident ride.
Secondly, the dynamics. The three-liter engine pulls in combination with permanent all-wheel drive pulls perfectly, especially, up to 90 - 100 mph [130-140 km.ch]. BTW, it takes 7.5 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.
In sport mode - in it, the switchings become shorter and sharper, the reaction to the gas pedal becomes more acute. At the end of the turn, the pedal has a well-felt kick-down step. In manual mode, the machine honestly withstands transmission - up itself does not switch. Also, only in manual mode, the seventh gear is engaged.
Thirdly, comfort. From the pick-up truck you expect a little kick in the rear axle, but not with this Mercedes. The suspension here is much softer and more coordinated than all the pick-ups I know. It perfectly absorbs bumps, coupled with good sound insulation, creates an unseen comfort level, much higher than the Amarok or Hilux.
Stability on a straight line also makes me very happy - even driving fast driving on windy roads, the X 350d does not tail steer all over the place, like other pick-ups do, perhaps thanks to the sensitive stabilization system. It also helps effectively cornering - making this a very safe feeling ride, even on wet roads.
On slippery surfaces, you can take advantage of the permanent all-wheel drive, and drive a car with the right pedal. Understitching and a small counter-displacement in front of the entrance, and further - a smooth set of traction and cornering in a light slip. Not super-exciting, but not vice versa.
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What I would like to improve are the brakes. They are exactly the same here as on the usual X-class, 11-inch front discs, which seem small for a 2.2 metric ton truck.
The noise “diesel” sound of the new motor, familiar from the “Nissan” motor, does not exist on the V6 Mercedes engine. The X350d is noticeably quieter it seems better balanced, and has fewer vibrations. At very high speeds, aerodynamic noises start to penetrate the cabin.
Since we are talking about aerodynamics, I note that when driving in a dense stream, the dirt does not fly to the hood, and the side windows remain clean after a few hundred miles, making this a very important advantage of the X-class.
On dirt roads, the X-Class is not JUST a pick-up truck. The comfort level is higher than on other frame SUVs and the 4WD Mercedes Sprinter.
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The suspension works well on gravel and bumps with sandy underground which is now hidden under the winter snow.
The unit will not bottom out, and there is no vertical shaking, the suspension works amazing.
I was able to safely drive faster speeds than our friends on this photoshoot road [off-road] trip.
All for a good photo
Permanent four-wheel drive allows you to move along a slippery road very confidently. If desired, you can block the center differential, disable the ESP and start tail drifts.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to check how it handles fully loaded up while off-road.
Would be interesting to know if it bottoms out easily given the soft feeling of the suspension.
Our car was not equipped with optional underbody protection, so we moved out rather cautiously,
Ground clearance in front is 7.87 inches [200 mm], and 8.74 inches [222 mm] in the rear. In fact, this is enough, and can only be changed by going up in tire size. The stock tire for the X350d is 255-60R18 and 255-55R19.
A maximum water crossing is 23.6 inches [600 mm], the air ducts - on the up1per edge of the hood, there are no special valves that prevent water from entering the engine, which the G-class has.
I tried to get the car stuck in the snow, which turned out to be a daunting task - it just kept going.
Engineers - have a look at those: The rear brake hoses cause concern - under unfavorable circumstances, they may be damaged from branches which can get hung up while mud driving!
And here we go, the main question - for whom is this car anyway? Mercedes-Benz does not hide the fact that although it is officially it a commercial the X 350d is positioned as a passenger pick-up truck, a vehicle for active recreation and travel.
What can I say ... Any pick-up is a compromise - and the Mercedes-Benz X 350d is technically the best compromise among all competitors. It rides better, is better equipped and better looking. The car is good and on the highway, and in the city, and off-road. The closest Mercedes frame-based SUV will cost at least twice as much.
Sadly we will have to wait out a few more 4th of July Sales before the Pick-Up will hit US sales floors. One option might be to look into the Mercedes 4x4 Sprinter Van instead.
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