What's Been Driving Us Nuts? The Mercedes X-Class and Ford Bronco

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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

 

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Comments

I don't think the X-Class or GLT or whatever Mercedes-Benz ends up calling this vehicle is coming to the US in any form for the foreseeable future.

I am, however, interested to see what the Bronco (and the Ranger) will look like in its near-finalized design. Some sources say that the Ranger will not look like the T6 model already sold outside of US and Canada, which that model is already five or six model-years old.

I think they should bring out a Bronco based on theF150, seeing how popular the F150 is I think there will be a market for it.

To much speculation. A new Frontier has been promished for how long now.

With respect to the existing RIDGELINE:
They spec the rear crew area at 36.7" legroom. I measured it today and at best could only get 34.0" with the front passenger seat all the way forward. Which in that position a small adult would have a hard time with their knees smashed up against the glove box. Back seat is a bit upright like all the midsizers or king cab fullsizers. I'm sick of the fake specs with all these manufacturers. Yah, and the bed is 4' 11.5" at the top. But hey if you have the truck and love it, that's all that matters for you. The front end is closer to an Odyssey than a pilot!

Anyway, the transverse engine design definitely utilizes engine compartment space efficiently. It's a V6 so the 3 spark plugs are in the back, but I could easily get my hand in there and comfortable that spark plug replace is possible, but surely some of the commenters will never accept.

The original body on frame Bronco or Bronco II will not sell in today's market. They will be DOA. These models were nothing more than evolutionary steps in the development of the modern day SUV.

The original body on frame Bronco or Bronco II will not sell in today's market. They will be DOA.

@Gmsrgreat

Actually the phrase DOA refers to the hundreds of millions in unlawful-death claims that Ford paid to the families of people who lost their lives in Bronco IIs. An awful beast of a car even if it did not kill people right and left.

Updated and refined versions of the Bronco can be successful but current Ford senior management is utterly unable to imagine these concepts and will not aim for the right price point.

Knowing the terminally preppy Bill Ford he'd want to call it a "Eco-this" or "Green" that.

Ford if they had any brains at all would have long ago had a distinct division in the company for sports minded SUVs and Pickups aka Jeep or RAM. It is a key segment in North America that Ford seems totally unable to address. Who knows why.

We are about to see a return body on frame SUV's in the midsize market. Chevy is coming out with the Colorado based blazer, Ford is bringing out the bronco, and Nissan is going to have an Xterra like truck based off the new Frontier.

Stop listening to these old farts stuck in the 70'80's, always posting negative doomsday scenarios;

I'll say "bring them on!"...the more, the merrier!! I'm enjoying this competition between brands and giving us truck lovers more choices than ever!!

We have an energy problem. The Ranger is not what we need because another BOF truck will not help us solve our an energy problem. Keeping properly inflated tires goes a long way in saving fuel. I know Spring is right around the corner but remember you can waste less engergy by simply turning your thermostat down to 65 degrees in the day and down to 55 degrees at night. Put on a sweater to keep warm. The energy shortage is real and we must learn to live more thriftily, use less gas, and drive smaller trucks like the Honda Ridgeline. There are some very good lease deals on compact cars that everyone should check out.

energy shortage? I think their is an over supply problem last I heard. But to the point BOf vehicles can be just as efficient as non bof vehicles.

Mark are you sure it's not the fumes from your Ford Exploder that are "driving you nuts"?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/02/13/ford-motor-co-defect/97856978/

Other sites have posted articles on this Mercedes truck and there is no definitive answer to this truck being available in the US. The Mercedes truck will be based on the Nissan Navarre. As to what the Bronco will look like Ford has not given any information except a few artist concepts and each one of those is different. Stay tuned.

There are some very good lease deals on compact cars that everyone should check out.
Posted by: Jeff S. | Feb 25, 2017 4:19:00 PM

That is correct. I agree with Jeff S. The energy shortage was predictable. I do read many comments regarding how full size pickups, in particular 1/2 ton are much more capable, but as I pointed many times before, 75% just use a pickup and just to drive to and from work and should be driving compact cars.

It is a key segment in North America that Ford seems totally unable to address. Who knows why.
Posted by: papajim | Feb 25, 2017 3:00:46 PM

papadim,
Not everything hinges on the US. The US now is less than 20% of the global economy and the Ranger is sold in 180 countries. Your outlook is quite limited.

I’d say the Ridgeline offers these people what they expect and want from a pickup.

I would assume they want some pickup utility with carlike performance and handling.

A pickup doesn’t need to be what you expect or want or what I expect or want.

@BAFO, Agree, I use the bed of my midsize trucks a lot but I do not find a need for a full size truck. Also my average mpgs with a 4 cylinder 5 speed manual averages out a little higher. Nothing wrong with full size if you need or want it but not everyone has exactly the same needs or wants.

2020 Bronco will be my next truck period.

Not everything hinges on the US. The US now is less than 20% of the global economy and the Ranger is sold in 180 countries. Your outlook is quite limited.

I’d say the Ridgeline offers these people what they expect and want from a pickup.

I would assume they want some pickup utility with carlike performance and handling.

A pickup doesn’t need to be what you expect or want or what I expect or want.

Posted by: Big Willy Styles | Feb 25, 2017 5:31:59 PM

@ Big Willy, Al or whatever you call yourself these days; you forgot the other huge % of guys like myself who would not be caught dead driving a Honda Ridgeline or similar....nothing against it but I see things differently;

With the short time we have on this earth & I love driving & average only approx 2 hrs a day total driving; I want to be sure I'm driving something I like & in style. I mean if I could have a Charger Hellcat or Demon as a daily driver would be nice. So for car like comfort, I can still drive company car Chrysler 300 or my wife's Porche Cayanne) but no.

In other words, I'm happy to give up a little ride comfort/extra storage space etc etc that the Ridgeline offers to drive a real man's truck with more capability/larger bed/ground clearance/real 4WD etc etc than owning/driving an SUV in disguse as a truck with a tiny bed/lesser capabilities.

I agree with BAFO.

A lot of people make unnecessary journeys in their pickup truck. They should stay put to conserve gas, or drive compact cars if they must journey. The next energy crisis is looming.

Speaking of cyclical; hard for humans to learn, history will repeat itself...again.

Jim--This is my comment. Are you questioning my patriotism? All I am saying is everything is cyclical and compact car lease deals. If you want to prevent the looming energy crisis we must all do our part.

I voted for Carter twice. I am an independent.

From a side view the Mercedes rendering looks just like a Colorado/Tacoma with the rear door window opening going up in the back. I do not like that, as when you put a topper/cap on the bed the lines are totally wrong, and makes it look heavy.

I waited for years for the new twins to come out but just have not been taken with their looks. Maybe the Ranger will do it, if my truck will last another year or 2. The Kamikazy built Ridgeline is out.

From a side view the Mercedes rendering looks just like a Colorado/Tacoma with the rear door window opening going up in the back. I do not like that, as when you put a topper/cap on the bed the lines are totally wrong, and makes it look heavy.

I waited for years for the new twins to come out but just have not been taken with their looks. Maybe the Ranger will do it, if my truck will last another year or 2. The Kamikazy built Ridgeline is out.

Yawn!

I don't know how a discussion of a Mercedes truck got into a discussion about Jimmy Carter, conservatism, and a host of other issues. I doubt that these factors enter into Mercedes plans to release a new truck. This truck will sell for a small fortune and if it does come to the US it will run on premium gas. Buy what you want and enjoy it.

Be happy

@Mark Williams
Both of these stories are primarily about Australia. Bronco is being designed and engineered here.
Australia is one of the main markets for the X-Class. We are having a lot of input into the vehicle.
A Mercedes Concept is touring Australia.
X-Class will be a rival for the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger. It will come in an Off Road, Work version as well as a Luxury model.
Engines will be diesel, with a 260hp, 460lbs ft or torque V6 to option.
Highly unlikely Mercedes is looking at a Metris based Pickup. Daimler- Benz wants to extend it's more profitable Van Range. These have no tie ups with it's Freightliner and Western Star heavy truck divisions

The directional bogger tire is on backwards on drivers side, but going the correct way on passenger. Fine job Benz.

Good news guys...Ford plans on putting "tone-technology" in the new Bronco, here is the scoop....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHXT2I5Ybfk

Bronco based off the f250 with the solid front axle, powerstroke and manual option would be so beast. 2 door removable top keep it short and stubby. Fat tailgate spare tire.

I for one am looking forward to the next Nissan Frontier.
I only need a truck for light off road . I want something that is relatively fuel efficient , capable and is reliable.
I have no need of a 1/2 ton too big for no reason and sucks too much gas. I am betting the Frontier or the SUV based on it will be the best choice to fill my needs.
GM no go break down to much
Ford worse than GM
Ram hahaha


Been traveling Australia, New Zealand and SE Asia for the last three months and I've driven all of the midsize compacts we don't have in the US including the Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, Mazda BT50, VW Amarok and Isuzu Dmax.

The Nissan and the Hilux are head and shoulders above the rest. The Navara feels like an Infiniti inside and it (along with the VW) have the best diesel engines in terms of power, MPG and NVH.

The Ranger looks like a Focus inside, cheaper plastics than the Nissan, VW or the Toy. The diesel is really good though and it looks really good with the stock offroad package. There's a body on frame SUV based on the Ranger called the Everest, I'd be willing to bet it will be the next Bronco as well, its pretty sweet.

The Amarok is really chunky/tall looking, but its very refined. VW knows diesels and the TDI is really strong. Interior is German, clean and simple. Chicken Tax means no VW truck in US dealerships. TDI scandal means no diesels either. Lose-lose.

The real surprise? The Mitsubishi. Has a unique design whereby the rear of the cab is angled under the seat toward the front, allowing the rear axle to be moved forward, creating a shorter wheelbase than the others. Its really nimble, and it has a lot of tire clearance. Its made for off-road. Chicken Tax means we'll never see it. They have a great SUV based on the platform, the Pajero Sport.

The Mazda looks like the previous gen 3 inside and out. It just needs the face/interior of the new CX9 and it will be a showstopper. But its really roomy inside and the SkyActive diesel is a gem. Another one that we'll never see because of the stupid Chicken Tax.

Can't believe we still have the ancient Frontier with the stunning Navara being sold everywhere else. Though if something this good were at Nissan dealers right now, Titan sales numbers would be even more dismal than what they currently are. Shame they're holding it back to let the behemoth Titan gain traction, it would bring more people into Nissan showrooms. The Hilux is so much nicer than the Tacoma, an they both have motors we'l likely never see in the US.



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