Forbidden fruit: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup is ready to haul in style

Mercedes-Benz has finally unveiled the production version of its first proper pickup, the X-Class.

The long-gestating midsize truck the product of a joint venture with Nissan and based on the Japanese automaker’s Navara pickup. The German’s take looks very much like a Mercedes, however, from the shape of its grille to its interior design.

With a starting price of around $40,000 in Germany, it’s also a very luxed-up effort. Mercedes calls it the first pickup from a premium manufacturer, which is a little bit of a stretch considering Lincoln and Cadillac have both had offerings in the segment, not to mention the fact that you can easily spend over $70,000 on a high tech, leather-lined Ford, Chevy or Ram today.

Nevertheless, it is dressy for a midsize pickup and will be offered with a list of electronic safety features that includes emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. A range of four diesel and gasoline engines will be available, the most potent one a 258 hp gasoline V6.

Built with a traditional body-on-frame construction and a live rear axle, the X-Class uses coil springs front and rear like a Ram 1500. Its four-wheel-drive system has a low range transfer case and a locking rear differential is optional for added traction. Mercedes says its maximum payload and tow ratings are 2,200 pounds and 7,000 pounds, respectively.

Aside from its platform, one very important thing that the X-Class has in common with the Navara is that it will be sold just about everywhere but the United States. In its current form, it wasn’t engineered to meet safety standards here. It would also be subject to a 25 percent import tax, unless Mercedes started building it here, where it doesn’t think there’s a big enough market for a high-end small truck.

At least not yet.