Mercedes-Benz X-Class (2017 - 2020) used car review

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

The X-Class, says Mercedes, is a pick-up that knows no compromise. Made between 2017 and 2020, it's easily the most desirable contender from its era in this segment, the 'Rolls Royce' option if you've a premium budget for the purchase of a light truck of this kind. If you want a pick-up manufactured in this period and can afford the asking prices, we're pretty sure you'd like one.

Models

2.3, 3.0 V6 Pick-up (diesel) [X220d, X250d, X350d]

History

It had to come: a premium brand pick-up truck. Back in 2017, the Mercedes X-Class brought up-market values to this utilitarian sector in a form the company hoped that successful private buyers would find hard to resist.

Back then, the idea of a Mercedes pick-up sounded unusual but it ought not to have. The Stuttgart manufacturer had every credential necessary to produce such a thing. It's long been a familiar force in the light commercial market, thanks to a well regarded range of vans. And extreme off roaders like the tough G-Class SUV and the mighty Unimog suggest that the company has all the expertise needed to produce the ultimate kind of truck. Interestingly, it chose not to use that engineering heritage here, instead developing the X-Class as part of a joint project that also produced two other pick-up models, the Renault Alaskan and the second generation version of the much better known Nissan Navara.

Was that wise? Well it wouldn't have been if all Mercedes had done was to re-badge an ordinary volume product. But, according to the brand, that wasn't what happened here, hundreds of millions of Euros spent in turning the Nissan underpinnings into what was marketed as the 'first pick-up from a premium manufacturer'. It wasn't actually: by 2017, Cadillac and Lincoln had been selling trucks of this kind for years. The concept was new for the European market though - and for ours, where the pick-up segment back in 2017 was growing at the rate of about 15% a year, with around 55,000 annual sales, many of them to the well-heeled private small business owners being targeted here.

As you might expect, premium branding meant premium pricing from new, but with the tax loopholes that come as part of pick-up ownership, Mercedes was hoping that this might not matter too much. For those for whom it didn't, then the X-Class looked, on paper at least, to be a cut above its mainstream rivals, promising to combine their tough practicality with a classier driving experience, a smarter cabin and higher standards of safety and media connectivity. For work, rest and play, it promised not only to be all the car customers might ever need but also all the car they might ever want.

But can a truck ever really deliver on that kind of billing? Global markets decided this one couldn't and though it sold reasonably in the UK, sales elsewhere were disappointing. The global pandemic in 2020 was the last nail in the X-Class's coffin and production was discontinued in mid-2020 and no replacement provided.

What You Get

Let's face it, pick-up design is, by and large, pretty boxy and uninspiring. Which is why we were particularly admiring of 'Concept X-Class', the prototype model Mercedes paraded to tease interest in this X-Class before the production version was launched. Aesthetically, it was sleek and desirable in a way that no small truck ever previously had been, so it was a touch disappointing to find the finished showroom model rather more conservatively styled. It's got presence though - and hey, it's big, at least by European standards anyway, 40mm longer and 38mm wider than its Nissan Navara design stablemate.

OK, so step up into the cabin and take a seat inside. Ever seen a pick-up interior quite like this? No, we hadn't either. Immediately striking is the centre of the dash with its twin dual panels of aeronautically-inspired air vents, which sit just below the free-standing tablet-style infotainment screen.

Some writers have moaned that the hard, durable plastics used further down the dash and around the gearstick are inappropriate to a Mercedes. We'd only say that they're certainly not inappropriate to a pick-up: in our eyes, it's the kind of finish necessary for this model's station in life and anyway, there's plenty of compensation provided in the areas that don't have to withstand regular scuffs, scratches and kicks - the soft-touch top of the fascia and the silver-trimmed lower part of the centre stack for example.

And in the back? Well here, six-foot passengers who don't mind their heads slightly brushing the roof lining will find themselves easily able to fit in behind six-foot front occupants. There's also the bonus of being able to flip up the seat base to access two hidden storage compartments or create an extra area for transporting items you don't want to consign to the cargo bay.

How practical will this X-Class prove to be in day-today use? Pull down the lockable tailgate with its big centrally-mounted handle and once you get your stuff in, the cargo bed is usefully long, measuring 1,587mm, a segment-leading figure which makes this bay fractionally longer than that of a comparable Nissan Navara. Overall, there's a total loading capacity inside this platform of 2.48m2. So no, you don't have to sacrifice practicality to get yourself a bit of extra style in this segment.

What You Pay

Pricing as usual with used pick-ups, varies widely, depending on spec, condition and mileage. Our sales survey revealed pricing starting from around £20,000 for an early base-spec 'Pure'-trimmed X250d; better-trimmed versions of this model tend to sell in the £30,000-£36,000 bracket, with fully optioned-up X220d variants up in the £42,000-£48,000 bracket. For the rare V6 X350d model, you're looking at premium pricing in the £60,000-£66,000 bracket for fully-optioned-up models; more modestly-specced X350d variants start from around £37,000.

What to Look For

The X-Class is a vehicle that might well have been seriously used off road, so check underneath for signs of damage. Also, make sure any thick mud has been washed off the chassis; otherwise it will trap moisture that'll cause corrosion. Check all the exterior panel for damage or poor quality repairs. This is, after all, a long vehicle. Because of the high sidewalls of the tyres, the alloy wheels should remain undamaged from kerb scrapes, but jagged rocks encountered while driving off road may have cut into the rubber. These cuts might look insignificant, but they increase the risk of a blow out at high speed.

There were various product recalls you should know about. With models manufactured between 28 September 2015 and 14 March 2018, the child safety lock on the rear doors may not function properly, as a result of which the rear doors could be opened from the inside. With models manufactured between August 2017 and 14 February 2020, due to a defective operating manual, the roof load may be exceeded if a canopy is retro- fitted on the loading platform. This means that canopy might break and the roof load could become detached and fall, endangering following traffic. Finally, on models manufactured between 26 October 2017 and 3 October 2018, the trailer stability function may not be available. As a result, the vehicle driving stability can be impaired, increasing the risk of an accident. Check that all these issues have been attended to if the model you're looking at was affected.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on a 2018 X250d - Ex Vat)

An oil filter is in the £8-£14 bracket. An air filter costs around £41. A pollen filter costs around £7. A fuel filter costs around £33. A wiper blade is in the £3-£11 bracket. A rear brake discs cost in the £140 bracket. A front halogen headlamp bulk is around £4, A water pump is around £95.

On the Road

In developing this X-Class, Mercedes took the best attributes of its Nissan Navara design stablemate and usefully enhanced them wherever it could. The multi-link rear axle and coil sprung suspension set-up pioneered by the MK2 model Navara was further refined here and the result was impressive. True, this vehicle's substantial 2.2-tonne kerb weight and its need for a tough, utilitarian ladder-frame chassis mean that it'll never ride and handle quite like a luxury SUV. But it gets remarkably close to that standard for a pick-up, offering a level of stability and comfort at speed that no other light truck from this period can get close to equalling, this vehicle capable of propelling itself around switchback corners in a manner that'll truly surprise you if you come to a test drive after familiarity with its competitors.

Under the bonnet, mainstream variants offer a 2.3-litre four cylinder diesel engine. The base X220d delivers it with 163hp and must be mated wth manual transmission. The volume X250d comes only with a 7-speed auto, puts out 190hp and delivers a very similar set of efficiency stats, returning 35.8mpg on the combined cycle and 207g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures). The alternative engine is the 3.0-litre V6 diesel fitted to the rare flagship X350d, which puts out 258hp and is mated to a 9-speed auto gearbox and permanent 4MATIC 4WD. Four cylinder X-Class models must use a part-time Nissan-derived 4MATIC system but it still gives this pick-up impressive capability off road, especially if you get a model whose original owner specified the increased ground clearance package and the optional rear axle differential lock.

Overall

The whole idea of being able to drive a luxurious Mercedes while still enjoying the practical benefits of a commercial vehicle is certainly appealing. And so is this X-Class model. We wish the styling had lived up to the prototype's promise, but what's been delivered here is still easily the most desirable used pick-up on the market. If you can afford an X-Class and want a pick-up of this sort, there aren't many significant things you won't like about it. True, some of the less obvious interior fittings don't feel very Mercedes-like, but these are parts that really need to be durable to suit this vehicle's station in life.

Other models in this class try to achieve 'luxury' by throwing leather upholstery, better infotainment and chromed bull bars at the standard spec. An X-Class, in contrast, feels up-market by design. The difference is important. And if you're seeking something in this sector, it might be enough to make this X really hit the spot.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get breakdown cover, we fix 4 out of 5 vehicles at the roadside!