2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power review (video)

Welcome to the ace of spades. The cream of the crop. The pièce de résistance. No matter where you stand, the Mercedes-Benz X350d Power is the king of the diesel ute market. It has to be.

Don’t agree? Well, it has the most powerful engine (equal with the VW Amarok). It’s the most expensive and most luxurious. And, it’s built by the most prestigious and historically experienced car brand of them all; Mercedes-Benz.

Mercedes does offer a range of models and variants, including ones with four-cylinder engines. But here we’re testing the top dog, X350d. It’s offered in Progression and Power trim levels, and is priced from a rather northerly $73,270 for the Progression, and from $79,415 for the Power as we have here (excludes on-road costs).

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power – THE SPECS

Engine: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6
Output: 190kW@3400rpm / 550Nm@1400-3200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive, high/low range
Wheels: F & R: 19×7.5, 255/55
ANCAP: Five stars (for X220d and X250d)
Tare weight: 2190kg
Power-to-weight: 11.52:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 8.8L/100km
Economy during test: 10.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 80L/Diesel

Power efficiency: 21.59kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 3.37 seconds*
0-100km/h: 7.63 seconds*
60-110km/h: 5.59 seconds*
1/8 mile: 10.09 seconds at 110.5km/h*
1/4 mile: 15.70 seconds at 143.8km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.884g
100-0km/h braking: 3.19 seconds at 38.30 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.253g
Decibel at idle: 52*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 85*
Priced from: $79,415

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power – THE PACKAGE

Yes, the X-Class is heavily based on the current Nissan Narava. This was put together via Daimler and Renault-Nissan’s long-running partnership, and is expected to be Mercedes’s ‘market test’ before it – potentially – introduces its own, ground-up ute for the market in the future.

This means you might notice some Navara details behind the three-pointed-star mask. The door handles are the same, and the general shape of the torso is very similar. Although the chassis is borrowed from the Navara, Mercedes-Benz engineers have applied their own reinforcements so it can handle the power of the V6, and to ensure it provides a solid, typically Germanic road stance at all speeds.

Mercedes-Benz has supplied its own suspension setup too, with unique springs and dampers. The rear end does borrow the coil-spring layout from the top-spec Narava ST-X. This does mean it’s not as heavy-duty as some of the competitors, but, on the contrary, the ride comfort is far superior to most rivals.

Enough about the differences, though. How does it feel inside? Well, if you look at it from a completely uneducated point-of-view, not knowing it’s based on the Navara, we think it does look and feel like a modern Mercedes. Yes, there are some crude bits, such as the wasted space and general lack of design around the gear lever, and some pretty ordinary plastics lower down in the cabin. But, you’d kind of expect that since it is, after all, a Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle – it’s actually marketed through the Mercedes-Benz Vans division.

We like the in-car atmosphere. The aluminium trim option that spears across the dash gives it a distinct prestige kick, while the aviation-style air vents inspired by those on Mercedes passenger cars are just cool. The design of the media interface hand controller on the console is also exquisite, although, it might be too fancy for this market segment.

Speaking of the media interface, we’re not a fan of the functionality of this system. Using the hand controller, there are two ‘star’ buttons. These, as far as we can figure out, are for the main menu. But why are there two of these buttons right near each other, offering the same function? We’ve had this vehicle for a week and still can’t figure it out. If it takes that long to figure something out, then we’d categorise it as cumbersome or in need of clearer understanding.

Up on the dash is an 8.4-inch tablet-like display screen. We know they are quite common in the market these days, but the way it sort of just sits there, like it’s tacked on, makes it look a bit cheap and suggests it may have been a last-minute solution. A unit that’s properly integrated into the dash design always wins in our opinion.

Comfort is, as you would expect, brilliant. Remembering this is competing with Hilux and co, the cabin experience in here really is a step above. You can drive this for an evening out and not for a second feel anything but important and pampered. The standard LED headlights provide a crisp view ahead, however, we were expecting to have adaptive or cornering headlight technology – it isn’t even available as an option. This, we feel, is something Mercedes could easily fit and instantly move up a level in technology above the rivals. And without too much costly engineering work.

Rear passenger accommodation is very good, with climate vents in the back of the centre console ensuring all-season comfort, along with a 12V power socket to keep those all-important devices charged. There’s also the little peek-a-boo sliding window within the rear windscreen, carried over from the Navara.

As you would expect, the X-Class is the first ute to be offered with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, which come as standard on the X350d Power. Strangely though, adaptive cruise control is not available even though most of the hardware is there. We think this is another oversight, especially from Mercedes-Benz. Let alone the fact that it’s an $80k vehicle.

The X-Class was also the first to be offered with 360-degree camera technology, with this model featuring front, side, and rear camera displays. These not only ensure safety on the work site and in the driveway, but also peace of mind when you’re in tight, technical off-road situations.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power – THE DRIVE

Firstly, let’s start with that engine. The 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 diesel is a genuine Daimler unit, producing a segment-leading 190kW of power at 3400rpm, and a relentless 550Nm of torque between 1400rpm and 3200rpm. These figures place it in the market as the equal most powerful diesel in the class, matching the VW Amarok V6. However, while the Amarok does develop 580Nm during overboost, this is only for short periods and when the conditions are right.

For us, it’s the versatility and broad-stretching power and torque spectrums that impress most. While the Amarok V6 offers its 550Nm between 1500-2500rpm, this provides it in a window 800rpm wider. And that’s really import for a diesel, as these aren’t designed to rev; they only provide a relatively small window in the first place, compared with petrol engines. So the broader the torque band the better.

Out on the road the engine has a lordly, imperious churn at any rpm. It unforgivingly reels through gravity, with a strong surge pushing you back into your seat. Remembering we aren’t talking about a sports car here. This is a diesel workhorse. Overtaking performance is excellent, and not just for this class, while outright acceleration is also very impressive. We timed 0-100km/h in just 7.63 seconds. This is the quickest time we’ve ever achieved in a dual-cab ute, and that includes the old V6 HiLux (we timed 9.13 seconds). As a side note, our real-world testing resulted in a much quicker time than Mercedes’s official claim of 7.9 seconds.

So, the performance is definitely at the top of the class, which means the X-Class is winning in at least a few areas by this stage of the review. What about the handling? Well, with coil springs at the back, straight away, it is the more dynamic format. Around bends the rear end control is good, with very little hopping or skipping over aggressive corrugations. This will be greatly appreciated by those who regularly travel on high-traffic dirt roads that often have hundreds of little bumps within small patches. Obviously it will never be as compliant as a passenger car, but this setup clearly stands ahead of the leaf-sprung rivals in this area.

The steering feel is solid and reassuring, and body roll is well-managed. It is disappointing that Mercedes hasn’t fit a reach and tilt adjustable steering column – tilt only – but in saying that the driving position is quite nice. You can hunker down a little bit, albeit not as much as in the passenger cars, and the steering column and pedal placement is centred and ergonomic.

Part of the reason for this confident and stable on-road feeling is thanks to a wide track. Compared with the Narava ST-X, the front and rear tracks are 62mm wider. There’s also a set of 19-inch alloy wheels for the Power variant, wrapped in 255/55 semi-low-profile Bridgestone Dueler HP Sport tyres. Needless to say, it is the best-handling dual-cab diesel we’ve tested.

Matched up to the engine is a Daimler seven-speed automatic transmission. It is no doubt perfectly matched to this engine, and makes great use of the available torque. You can manually shift through gears using the standard shift paddles, and there’s also a range of driving modes that provide their own unique shift algorithms. In saying that, just leaving it in the default comfort mode will suffice, no matter what you intend to get out of it.

Speaking of modes, the X-Class features 4Matic all-wheel drive. Unlike most other utes in this class, this beast runs in all-wheel drive, all of the time. Adopting this setup does bring big safety benefits on the road, particularly in adverse weather conditions. Some utes on the market aren’t even designed to drive in 4WD mode while on the road at all. So in that respect 4Matic is a good thing and does mean the X-Class is winning more points.

Despite featuring a coil-sprung rear end, the payload capacity is a hefty 1010kg. There’s also a high braked towing capacity of 3500kg, which is the legal limit for this size vehicle. However, some points are lost in the field of off-road performance. While we didn’t get a chance to do any sort of hardcore off-roading, the 222mm of ground clearance does fall inferior to some rivals. An approach angle of 30 degrees and departure angle of 25 degrees also doesn’t set any benchmarks, even though these angles are respectable. Wearing those 255/55 tyres on large rims obviously doesn’t help in this department either. (For reference, the Nissan Navara measures 228mm for ground clearance, with 33-degree approach and 28-degree departure angles.)

There are a number of functions available to tackle the rough stuff, such as a locking rear differential, hill descent control, and a dual-range transfer gearbox with low-range. This latter feature is ideal for slow rock crawling or climbing very steep hills. Oddly though, there is a constant 4×4 symbol on the dash. Since this is equipped with full-time AWD, we’re not sure there’s really a need for the symbol. For us we were a bit confused as we thought we may have slipped it into low range or something. The symbol itself also seems randomly placed within the digital portion of the instrument cluster.

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power – THE VIDEO

2019 Mercedes-Benz X350d Power – THE VERDICT

There are plenty of arguments to be made against the X-Class. It lacks some technology that would otherwise be featured in another Mercedes-Benz vehicles of similar price. And there are some areas of the interior and exterior design that are left to be desired. It’s also too expensive for what it is, and for what you’re getting.

However, in X350d Power form there is no denying its sense of importance on the road. The V6 engine is so silky smooth and provides an empowering sensation when you’re behind the wheel, especially when you roll up at the lights next to one of the popular rivals. We also like the interior mainly because it does present a clear luxury tone compared with the worksite-focused setups seen elsewhere. Again, this is even though Mercedes does have the skills and experience to put together something even better.

Most of all though, we love that it wears a Mercedes-Benz badge and that it comes with most of the brand’s prestige cache. Call us materialistic, pompous, right-wing brand snobs, but this is now our new favourite diesel ute. If money isn’t an issue, the X350d Power should be your first point of contact if you’ve just been promoted as chief foreman.

Our main advice is that if you are considering buying an X-Class, don’t waste your time with the four-cylinder variants. For the money, you’re better off just going with the Navara which has the same 2.3-litre twin-turbo anyway. If you want the Mercedes badge and everything that comes with it, it means you want the ultimate and upmost available. In other words, if you’re going to do it, do it properly and get the V6.

PROS:
– Splendid V6 diesel; very powerful, silky smooth, quiet
– Good ride comfort (compared with rivals)
– Safe and secure on-road feeling
– Excellent braking performance
– Some very nice luxury touches (compared with rivals)
– Prestigious brand and reputation

CONS:
– Too expensive for what you get
– Lacks some tech you’d expect from Mercedes; no adaptive cruise, adaptive headlights
– Some areas of the design seem odd or unfinished
– Heavily based on Nissan Navara; not a ‘real’ Mercedes?

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.