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Mercedes-Benz X-Class 350d 2019 off-road review: 4WD Power

The V6 X-Class is big, bold and bloody expensive – and it has segment-topping safety tech– but its price-tag swiftly climbs above more than $80,000 when you start adding one of the many optional extras and is it really worth that much beyond the cache of the badge? Really?

Sure, the bigger engine is what most potential X-Class buyers were pushing for after the launch of the four-cylinder-powered utes as part of the first-gen X-Class wave, but is there room – or even actual demand – for such a high-priced supposedly luxury ute?

Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The 350d Power ($79,415 plus on-road costs*) is the top-spec variant in a two-variant V6 X-Class range; the other variant is the Progressive, which starts from $73,270 plus on-road costs.

Our tester has a 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine a seven-speed automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive system – all from Benz. All of those certainly make a refreshing change from the Navara-based four-cylinder model that preceded this X-Class. (Price as tested is $88,618, including GST plus on-roads.)

Standard gear includes steering-wheel paddle shifters, 19-inch alloy wheels (our tester had the optional 18-inch rim design, part of the $1990 Style Pack), body-coloured exterior parts with chrome accents, fog-lamps, dusk-sensing LED High Performance headlamps, ARTICO/DINAMICA seat upholstery, ARTICO dash and door sill covering with contrast stitching, Electric front seats with lumbar support, front foot-well, vanity and door illumination lamps, dashboard trim in aluminium and black roof liner and more.

  • Up front are fog lights and dusk-sensing LED High Performance headlamps. Up front are fog lights and dusk-sensing LED High Performance headlamps.
  • For an extra $1990, the Style Pack adds 18-inch rims. For an extra $1990, the Style Pack adds 18-inch rims.
  • The side steps are also a part of the Style Pack. The side steps are also a part of the Style Pack.
  • Roof racks aren't standard and are added by buying the Style Pack. Roof racks aren't standard and are added by buying the Style Pack.
  • The silver styling bar costs an extra $1551. The silver styling bar costs an extra $1551.

Safety gear includes seven airbags, AEB, tyre-pressure-monitoring system, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Hill Start Assist, 360 degree surround-view camera, i-Size child seat anchorages and more.

The roof rails and side steps add to the X-Class’s commanding appearance, but those are part of the optional $1990 Style Pack, they are not standard.

The silver styling bar ($1551) and the tray liner ($899) also look cool– but they’re optional extras.

The tub liner is an optional extra. The tub liner is an optional extra.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The V6 350d Power V6 has a Benz-built 3.0-litre diesel engine (190kW at 3400rpm and 550Nm at 1400rpm-3200rpm), matched to a Benz-built seven-speed auto. It’s a mostly smooth combination and any perceived throttle or turbo lag can be swiftly overcome through switching to one of the more sporty of the five driving modes – one of which is actually called Sport – and making judicious use of the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The other driving modes are Comfort, Eco, Manual and Off Road and all are designed to adjust throttle input, gear changes and shift times to suit the terrain.

The 3.0-litre V6 diesel makes 190kW/550Nm. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel makes 190kW/550Nm.

This X-Class has Benz’s 4Matic full-time 4WD system with 4MAT (40:60 torque split for daily driving), 4H (the X-Class’s high range, with 30:70 torque split for looser surfaces) and 4L (aka low range with a 50:50 torque split to suit low-speed 4WDing). The driver uses a simple dial – unfortunately tucked away low down, almost hidden, on the centre console – to switch between these modes.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

From the outside, the X-Class looks pretty impressive – it’s chunky and blocky and has a real tough-truck presence.

As mentioned, a fair few of the cool exterior touches are actually paid-for options, and our tester was loaded with these extras and, as a result, looked like a work-or-play ready luxury workhorse.

  • The X-Class has a real tough-truck presence. The X-Class has a real tough-truck presence.
  • Our tX-Class was loaded with these extras and, looked like a work-or-play ready luxury workhorse. Our tX-Class was loaded with these extras and, looked like a work-or-play ready luxury workhorse.

So, it looks pretty good but, as always, looks can be deceiving and the interior is a very different story.

How practical is the space inside?

I’m not a snob about interiors but if I spent almost $90 grand on a ute I’d expect it to have a very high level of fit and finish inside, plenty of storage options and an overall premium feeling inside.

That’s sorely lacking in here.

From the many hard-plastic surfaces, fake leather, brushed-aluminium sections and sort of half-hearted attempts at three-pointed star styling – such as the vents – no part of the interior looks or feels anything like the premium quality you’d expect to find in a Mercedes-Benz.

Room and comfort inside is adequate but but the seats could do with a bit more cushioning. Room and comfort inside is adequate but but the seats could do with a bit more cushioning.

As for equipment inside, you get the 7.0-inch floating touchscreen and a few other bits and pieces but there are some glaring omissions: you don’t get a reach-adjustable steering wheel, heated seats, or real leather (our tester has the optional black leather seats fitted at a cost of $1750), you don’t get much in the way of storage anywhere, and you don’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – you don’t even get a driver-side grab handle. All of those sort of mod cons, you get in a ute that costs much less than this X-Class. 

Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which misses out on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Inside the cabin is a 7.0-inch touchscreen, which misses out on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Room and comfort inside is adequate but a long way from unreal for something so pricey.

Driving position is nice, with plenty of vision all-round, but everyone's seats could do with a bit more cushioning and length in the base.

In the grand tradition of all utes, the rear seat is really the realm of young children and, at a stretch, smaller adults, especially for longer trips in the saddle. 

Storage is minimal in the back seat – you don’t even get a drop-down arm-rest with cup-holder.

The rear seats are best suited to children or small adults. The rear seats are best suited to children or small adults.

What's it like as a daily driver?

Well, this is where the news gets a little bit better.

The V6 is a much better fit for the X-Class than the four-cylinder and it works well with the seven-speed auto, punching the more-than-2190kg ute along – although there is, at times, a substantial delay between foot down and go-time but, as mentioned earlier, that can be overcome by switching to Sport and using the paddle shifters.

It does sit nicely on the road, and ride and handling are generally okay with the X-Class only infrequently revealing some of the skips and jitters you’d expect of an unladen ute.

The coil-spring suspension tends to yield a spongy, comfortable ride rather than the too-firm ride of a ute, especially those of the leaf-spring variety, with nothing onboard.

Steering is pretty sharp and, despite its bulk, the X-Class is reasonably easy to manoeuvre for its size on- and off-road. It has a 12.8m turning circle.

What's it like for touring?

While the X-Class’s wide track – 1632mm front, 1635mm rear – stands it in good stead during fast driving on loosely-gravelled tracks, the ute’s overall bulk – 5340mm long, 3150mm wheelbase, 2113mm wide – does work against it slightly when you’re tackling low-speed 4WDing along narrow bush tracks with sharp turns and steep inclines and drops.

The X-Class’s all-wheel drive system and its off-road tech are an effective combination, the 360-degree camera comes in very handy at low speeds – affording the driver a clear view of areas of the track you'd otherwise be hard-pressed to see – and this ute has low-range and centre and rear locking diffs. 

It doesn't matter how effective a vehicle's AWD/4WD/4x4 system is, if the vehicle itself doesn't have the ground clearance, angles or low-range gearing necessary to tackle the terrain it is on, then it will spend a chunk of time caught up or caught out by obstacles.

When you’re 4WDing, every millimetre counts and the X-Class has 222mm of ground clearance and a 600mm wading depth, whereas something like the Ford Ranger Wildtrak has 232mm of ground clearance and a wading depth of 800mm.

The X-Class has 222mm of ground clearance and a 600mm wading depth. The X-Class has 222mm of ground clearance and a 600mm wading depth.

The off-road angles that count – 30 degrees (approach), 25 degrees (departure) and 22 degrees (ramp-over) – may not be not suited to hard-core rock-climbing, but they are adequate for 4WDing of a fairly robust nature.

Some of the X-Class’s underbody protection is plastic and easily damaged or torn off on rocks so it pays to avoid rocky climbs and deep ruts with high centre sections.

To the X-Class’s credit it handles everything easily enough – we took it over and through some decent off-road challenges – but it just never feels as dynamic or as capable as most of its rivals.

Down the back end, the inside of the tray measures 1560mm wide, 1215mm between the wheel arches, and it’s 475mm high. 

The tray measures in at 1560mm wide (1215mm between the wheel arches) and 475mm high. The tray measures in at 1560mm wide (1215mm between the wheel arches) and 475mm high.

It has an adjustable load-securing rail system with four tie-down points, which is okay but, for greater load-securing versatility, there should be tie-down points lower and fixed to the tray. 

It has a 1010kg payload, a 750kg unbraked towing capacity and 3500g braked towing capacity.

How much fuel does it consume?

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

A big plus in the X-Class’s favour is its class-leading suite of active safety tech including AEB, lane keeping assist, as well as that 360-degree view camera and more.

It has seven airbags, and a five-star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The V6 X-Class is nice enough to drive on-road and it’s effective enough off-road, but it’s let down by its less-than-impressive interior and those elements combined certainly do not justify such a high price-tag.

Sure, its safety gear is top-notch but the X-Class, even in this V6 guise, feels like a lacklustre attempt at ute greatness, rather than a real effort. 

Right now, if you’re in the market for a super-comfortable and capable V6 ute with real class and German precision, check out a top-spec V6 Amarok – and save about $25,000 while you’re at it.

$79,415

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'

Price Guide

$79,415

Based on new car retail price