If there's a vehicle style that might've gone extinct by now, you'd think it'd be the pick-up truck. While the open-bed form factor is a boon to contractors hauling lumber, ranchers unloading fence posts and repairpersons craning machine tools into the bed, Mike Mueller, author of 1999's The American Pickup Truck, reported that less than 15% of pick-up truck owners actually use them for such work-related purposes.
Yet the pick-up form factor has not only persisted, but thrived. Year after year Ford's F-150 is consistently the best-selling automobile of any sort in America. And now, in a move some might find surprising, Mercedes has announced that they're releasing a pick-up truck next year.
The Mercedes X-Class, as it's called, is going to come in two flavors, both of which have titles and descriptions reminiscent of a J. Peterman catalog. The first, for instance, is called the "Stylish Explorer:"
Stylish interior with a high level of operating and display comfort. The interior of the Concept X-CLASS stylish explorer is an equally emotional and stylish statement – characterized by an intriguing contrast of warm and cool colors, as well as by high-quality materials. The world of colors and materials translates the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy of sensual purity. The sensual touch and feel of the brown, very natural nubuck leather on the seats provides a cosy feel. This warm color, which is also found on the dashboard, is combined with cool white nappa leather. The trim made of open-pore smoked oak contrasts with the brushed and polished aluminium trim elements. The world of modern luxury is realized in a highly stylish fashion.
The modern flair is further boosted by round air vents, the free-standing high-resolution central display as well as the central controller and multifunctional touchpad. Similar to a smartphone, all telematics functions can be controlled with the touchpad by using gestures or by entering letters and characters. Mercedes-Benz thus introduces the most modern control and display concept in the segment of mid-size pickups. At the same time, the characteristics and functionalities typical in the pickup segment have been retained, such as the handbrake in the centre console.
The second variant is called the "Powerful Adventurer:"
Concept X-CLASS powerful adventurer: the redefinition of toughness. Complementing the Concept X-CLASS stylish explorer, the second concept car focuses on the classic traits of a pickup. The Concept X-CLASS powerful adventurer with a lemonax metallic paint finish stages toughness, durability, and off-road capability. As a result, it impressively underscores the fact that the future Mercedes-Benz pickup will combine comfort and style with the basic virtues of this vehicle category.
The Concept X-CLASS powerful adventurer towers above it all with a height of 1.90 meters. Large tires of size 35x11.50, the huge ground clearance, and the athletic design instill respect even at first glance. The brand's hallmark SUV radiator grille with two louvres, front and rear underride guard, wing claddings, and matte carbon wheel arches additionally underscore the superior off-road aesthetics. An electric winch at the front and a metal hook at the rear are further indications of the toughness and power of the future pickup.
With its progressive design the concept car exudes independence and thirst for adventure in their purest forms. This feel continues in the interior. Matte carbon elements in the exterior and interior, metallic brushed surfaces, and a bold color scheme lend the vehicle a sense of power. The lemonax metallic exterior paint finish is perfectly tailored to the interior color highlights. The color and material concept underscores the outdoor look with glossy black nappa leather and the use of carbon-style black embossed leather surfaces. To ensure the seats provide lateral support in all handling situations and in any terrain, the seat side bolsters are trimmed with black leather that offers extremely good grip and has a pleasantly soft touch and feel.
Is it me, or do "Stylish Explorer" and "Powerful Adventurer" sound like the titles they give you after you take a personality test?
In any case, the trucks will be out in 2017—but not in America. Instead they're targeting, at least initially, Australia, Europe, Latin America and South Africa. At first I figured this was because they didn't want to compete with America's well-entrenched domestic pick-up manufacturers, but it seems that's not the case, as they're not even targeting current pick-up owners. Instead, says Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans division Volker Mornhinweg, the goal is to "appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pick-up before."
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(best-selling pickup truck owner comment disclaimer)
Mercedes is known as a luxury brand here and that's true around the world as well. But what they aren't known for in the states is how resilient they are in harsh conditions. Their commercial products are used all around the world because of how well they're built. Anecdotally, Top Gear found that the Mercedes G Wagon rated much better in off road capability than it's Land Rover competitor. Don't forget they also created this thing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaNk116b2kw
Mercedes and Nissan co developed this truck, it's a replacement for the old titan based frontier/navara. Its interesting that Mercedes would even want a pickup, maybe some of the g wagon owners want one? Either way having a truck that size with a twin turbo v8 would be pretty sweet.
Ordered the V6 3.0 diesel.
If you question Mercedes ability to make pick-up trucks that can last, know that Mercedes makes one of the best commercial vehicles heavy duty trucks.
On first glance, it looks like a truck for someone who want a truck, not for someone that needs a truck. The bed appears too small for anything useful and the passenger compartment looks small, uncomfortable, and cramped as well.
Reading a little more about this concept its based on the Nissan Navara, or Frontier in the USA. The European models are built in Barcelona (thus the 'Navarre' name). Fully loaded a Frontier goes for about $32K. Its a competitor with a Toyota Tacoma, or Chevy Colorado.
Be careful the Lexus might have a Dakar sticker on it - ha-ha
I can understand their reticence to bring the new truck here. In the US, Mercedes is purely a luxury car brand, and isn't known for their trucks. In other parts of the world however, Mercedes trucks are far more prevalent, and they're considered a full-line brand. Just Google "Unimog" or check out the many pickup versions of their G-Wagen SUVs. For the same reason, Mercedes will not bring any of their smaller, cheaper cars to the US. It allows them to maintain the luxury brand image.
Intriguing. The air vents are just so gaudy. Don't know what to look at in that dashboard. Shiny stuff everywhere.
a) The size of the current market for this segment is big enough to test its potential with this brand b) Daimler wants M-B to expand their product lineup and thus build the brand image to better compete with Volkswagen. Maybe both.
I want one! If M-B makes a pickup you know it will be First Class. Perfect for us non-contractor no farming urbanites! Let's hope they do an AMG version. 😀
Brand killer to me. That said, they have always had a strong commercial line, unlike say BMW, so I can't say it's totally out of left field for them to go down this road.
Pick up extinct? It only holds the top 3 best selling vehicle spots.