A close look between these corporate cousins

Well, Mercedes-Benz has officially debuted its first metric-ton (mid-size) pickup truck, the X-Class. But the truck isn’t a ground-up creation from Mercedes – rather the X-Class is based on the current Nissan Navara NP300. Mercedes has been forthright with its partnership with Nissan, saying it’s leveraging Nissan’s experience in the segment. But Thankfully, the X-Class isn’t a Navara with a Mercedes star slapped on – or so Mercedes says. In fact, the two trucks are rather closely related, though there are major differences between them. Let’s dive in and see what’s up.

Nissan has been building trucks since 1933, but it was the 1980s that brought iconic Hardbody the U.S. In 1997, Nissan changed the name to Frontier, while everywhere else in the world, the Navara name was used. The latest version debuted for the 2015 model year, marking the Navara’s third generation. As a traditional truck, it rides on a fully boxed ladder frame while power is sent to the solid rear axle or all four wheels via a part-time 4WD system. However, Nissan chose a five-link, coil-spring setup for the rear suspension, giving the pickup a smoother ride with a slight trade-off in payload and towing capacity versus its competition. American truck enthusiasts will spot same thinking within the Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups’ rear ends. Not surprisingly, this setup translates well to a pickup billed as “premium,” so naturally, the X-Class borrows the design. But you won’t find a Nissan engine under the X-Class’ hood – and that’s just the beginning of the changes. Keep reading for more.

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Exterior

While the underpinnings might be shared, Mercedes borrows almost no sheet metal from Nissan.

While the underpinnings might be shared, Mercedes borrows almost no sheet metal from Nissan. Only the kink in the rear window, rear bumper, fuel door, and cargo bed tie-downs hint at the X-Class’ relation to the Navara. The Mercedes also has a 2.4-inch wider front track than the Navara’s 61.8-inch measurement. The 64.2-inch rear track is shared between the trucks.

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class
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Design wise, the X-Class is similar to the Mercedes GL-Class. It’s not a dead ringer, but does have familiar elements including the twin-bar grille, massive three-pointed star, the lower bumper guard dressed in chrome, and the headlights with the LED daytime running lights (in upper trims). Speaking of trims, the X-Class comes in three – Pure, Progressive, and Power. Pure is designed as the bare-bones work truck and can be spotted with its 17-inch steel wheels, black fascia, and halogen headlights. The Progressive is more mainstream, offering 17-inch alloy wheels and a chrome fascia, but still with the halogen headlights. Opting for the Power trim adds LED headlights, 18-inch “six-twin-spoke” alloy wheels, and a few other niceties.

2015 Nissan NP300 Navara
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The Nissan Navara stays true to its working class roots, offering both a chassis cab version and conventional box setup. The three traditional cab sizes are offered, too, which Nissan calls the Single Cab, King Cab, and Dual Cab. Trim levels include the RX, SL, ST, and ST-X. Wheels range from 15- and 16-inch steelies to 16- and 18-inch alloys.

Exterior Specs

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Nissan Navara
Length (Inches) 210.23 201.57
Width (Inches) 75.59 70.47
Height (Inches) 71.61 70.66
Wheelbase (Inches) 124.01 124.01
Bed Length (Inches) 73.11 68.89
Bed Width (Inches) 61.41 41.41
Bed Height (Inches) 18.66 18.66

Interior

While the X-Class and Navara are noticeably different on the outside, the two have very different designs on the inside

While the X-Class and Navara are noticeably different on the outside, the two have very different designs on the inside. The Mercedes has a familiar, three-spoke steering wheel, Mercedes gauge cluster, and infotainment system. It’s mostly got that “Mercedes” feel… Mostly. It does suffer from a few visibly cheap parts and several controls shared with the Nissan.

Conversely, the Navara is all Nissan. From the steering wheel and gauges, to the small infotainment screen and buttons, the Navara can claim all of its buttons came from the Nissan parts bin. And while neither trucks’ interior is hardly a penalty box, the Mercedes is decidedly more upscale, of course. Still, the Navara be had with six or eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a five- or seven-inch infotainment system, push-button start, leather seating, rear air vents, and a dual-zone HVAC system.

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Interior High Resolution
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As for the X-Class, it has upgrades like an 8.4-inch infotainment screen, a 5.4-inch driver information center in the gauge cluster, two choices of leather and four choices of cloth upholstery, and an overall improved air of luxury. As mentioned, a few carry-over Nissan parts doe spoil the German look. Key violators include the HVAC controls, the 4WD shift knob and its adjacent buttons, and the rather dull-looking gearshifter.

Drivetrain

While Mercedes initially said it would use only exclusive powertrains in the X-Class, turns out the Mercedes will indeed share the Nissan’s 2.3-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder

The relationship between the Mercedes X-Class and Nissan Navara NP300 runs deep. While Mercedes initially said it would use only exclusive powertrains in the X-Class, turns out the Mercedes will indeed share the Nissan’s 2.3-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder. Still, the X-Class does have two unique engines not found in the Navara.

The X-Class is available with four engine options. These include two four-cylinder turbodiesels, a single gasoline four-cylinder and a V-6 turbodiesel. The base X200 is powered by a naturally aspirated, four-cylinder making 165 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The 2.3-liter turbodiesel is used for the two mid-grade trims, the X220 d and the X250 d, but with different ECU tunes and a twin-turbo setup on the X250 d. The X220 d makes 163 horsepower and 297 pound-feet of torque, while the X250 d churns out 190 horses and 332 pound-feet. The range-topping V-6 turbodiesel makes a respectable 257 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

Transmission choices include the standard six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed automatic

Transmission choices include the standard six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed automatic. The manual is offered in all but the V-6 turbodiesel, where the automatic is the default. The V-6 also comes standard with a full-time 4WD system. All other versions get a part-time 4WD system as an extra-cost option while RWD is standard. As for technology, the V-6 comes with an ECO start/stop system and five drive modes. These are Comfort, Eco, Sport, Manual, and Off-Road. Manual mode allows for driver-selectable shifting of the automatic transmission.

Drivetrain Specs

X200 X220d X250d X350d
Horsepower 165 163 190 257
Torque 176 lb-ft 297 lb-ft 332 lb-ft 406 lb-ft
Driveline part-time 4WD part-time 4WD part-time 4WD full-time 4WD
Transmission 6MT\7AT 6MT\7AT 6MT\7AT 6MT\7AT

Nissan’s Power

2015 Nissan NP300 Navara
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Under the Nissan’s hood are two main engine choices: a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder and a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel

Under the Nissan’s hood are two main engine choices: a 2.5-liter gasoline four-cylinder and a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel. Nissan chooses to be coy with power and torque figures with its weak-sauce 2.5-liter, so we assume it still makes 152 horsepower and 171 pound-feet of torque as it did when the current-generation Navara debuted for 2015. Thankfully, things are slightly more powerful with the turbodiesel.

As with the Mercedes X-Class, the Navara’s 2.3-liter turbodiesel comes in two version: the single turbo variant with 160 horsepower and 297 pound-feet of torque and a twin-turbo unit with 187 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The Nissan also uses the six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmissions. RWD is standard, while 4WD is optional.

Pricing

It’s not surprising that Nissan undercuts Mercedes in terms of pricing. The absolute base-model Navara starts at $19,490 in Australia before taxes and fees, which converts to a rather low $15,422 in U.S. dollars as of August 2017. Opting for the most expensive single cab version will cost $35,490. The mid-range Navara King Cab is priced between $28,490 and $52,490 and the Dual Cab costs between $26,490 and $55,490. Converted to U.S. currency, the Dual Cab costs between $20,961 and $43,909.

On the other hand, The 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class starts at 37,000 Euros, or roughly $49,500 at current exchange rates. Mercedes hasn’t released pricing for the higher trim levels and options, but count on prices ranging into the mid $60,000 in U.S. dollars. The X-Class doesn’t have as wide a trim level lineup as the Nissan Navara, so the X-Class’ pricing won’t fluctuate quite as wildly.

Conclusion

Mercedes is clearly relying on Nissan’s decades of experience in the mid-size pickup category. And while the intellectual and mechanical sharing is certainly the most cost-effective and time-friendly method for Mercedes, it almost seems lazy. Yes, the Nissan Navara is a great truck in its own right, but it’s hard to imagine Mercedes needing that much help to produce its own pickup. After all, Mercedes does have a healthy commercial truck arm dedicated to medium and heavy-duty trucks.

Mercedes is clearly relying on Nissan’s decades of experience in the mid-size pickup category

Perhaps it comes down to testing the waters. Maybe Mercedes product planners and marketing folks wanted to jump head-first into the exploding truck market, but the bean-counters and executives didn’t want to invest millions into a new niche, deciding instead to leverage a partnership. If true, it makes sense from a business perspective, but not from a product prospective. How are we supposed to judge Mercedes on its ability to build a luxury-minded, yet fully capable mid-size pickup if it simply copies Nissan’s homework?

In all honesty, I really wanted Mercedes to bring the X-Class to North America. Now, after learning just how similar the trucks really are, I’m almost glad Mercedes is forgoing the American pickup truck market. After all, this is a market with a very low tolerance for BS, especially for newcomers.

References

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class Exterior High Resolution
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Read our full review on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

2015 Nissan NP300 Navara High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the Nissan NP300 Navara.

2016 Mercedes-Benz Concept X-Class
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Read our full review on the Mercedes-Benz X-Class Concept.

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