At a time when there are plenty of political shenanigans that are seemingly designed to distract us from more important issues, there are two auto-related stories that are driving me crazy.
The first is when and how, as well as whether or not, Mercedes-Benz is going to bring its new mid-size pickup truck, the X-Class (check out our latest spy shots here), to the U.S. The segment has really heated up during the last few years, with Honda redoing the Ridgeline for model year 2017, Ford bringing back the Ranger in two years and GM kick-starting the mid-size revival with the all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in model year 2015.
In all likelihood, the X-Class will not come to the U.S. as a luxury pickup, which seems to be what most automotive journalists are assuming based on the illustrations I've seen in other publications. These graphics make the Canyon Denali destroyer look like an S-Class sedan or GL-Class SUV. It's as if these media outlets are desperate for Mercedes to make a premium-priced, top-quality German competitor to fight the Japanese and American players. And I'm not sure that makes any sense.
I'm not calling this "fake news," but there does seem to be an uncomfortable, gentle push by the media for a luxury mid-size Mercedes pickup. For instance, stories from Automotive News continue to play up what we already know: that Mercedes is considering bringing the X-Class here, but it's taking a wait-and-see approach.
Ultimately, I think it's unlikely Mercedes will bring us a luxury mid-size pickup. Instead, I expect a commercial work truck along the lines of Mercedes' mid-size Metris Worker van. MB is partnering with Nissan/Renault for the platform of the X-Class, and I have no doubt it will make some significant changes to meet its own standards, but this pickup will be coming from Mercedes' commercial production arm, just like the Metris.
Mercedes has fueled this foolishness by releasing concept vehicle images that show some personal-use possibilities for the X-Class. It's important to remember that concept vehicles can be more about fantasy than reality.
Then there's the Ford Bronco saga. Ford announced at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit that a new Bronco SUV will go on sale for model year 2020, and it likely will be configured off a version of the new Ford Ranger platform. That makes sense since they're both being built at the newly reconstructed Michigan Assembly Plant (formerly the Michigan Truck Plant) in Wayne.
All we've seen since the announcement are several variations of simulated photos (we will call this fake news) of what the next Bronco will look like. And it was at this point that we painfully decided to go ahead and provide a photo of the abomination at the risk of further muddying the already murky waters. Our only hope is that our readers, excluding the ones who already know these photos are fake, will recognize these images for the pretend news that they are. Of course, there's nothing new about illustrations meant to suggest what the new vehicle might look like, but based on the number of people contacting us to comment on the looks of the new Bronco, that message is not getting out there.
Real photos of the next-generation Ford Bronco will not be available for quite a while, and when they are available they more than likely will be out-of-focus or long-distance spy shot at some remote proving ground. When those images of the new Bronco are available (we already have spy shots of the new Ranger), we'll be ready to pass them along. In the meantime, we're hoping to get more information about the changes happening to the new Ranger/Bronco plant once that's figured out. More to come.
Manufacturer image above; Fourwheeler.com image below