Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Ford Ranger. The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is now in dealerships up and down the country, and the German manufacturer is hoping to steal some market share from well-established names. The Ford Ranger is the UK’s best-selling pickup, but is the newest kid on the block good enough to tempt loyal customers away from the ‘Blue Oval’?
The two manufacturers have opted for two different design philosophies; Ford has opted for a rugged and tough appearance with the thick bars in the grille and jagged contours, while Merc has opted for beauty and glamour with its smoother and rounder lights and grille. The Merc is wider, at 1,920mm versus 1,870mm, although the Ranger is slightly longer at 5,362mm versus 5,340mm.
Inside, the two vehicles are also very different. The X-Class has a wider cab, but it feels even wider thanks to the horizontal layered design of the dashboard, although the higher seating position of the Ranger offers better visibility.
In terms of in-cab storage, the Ranger wins hands down. Apart from the central cubby and cup holders, there’s nowhere to put loose change or parking tickets immediately within reach of the driver, whereas there are plenty of handy little pockets on the Ranger.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Ford Ranger specification
There are three trim levels on the X-Class (Pure, Progressive and Power) and four on the Ranger (XL, XLT, Limited and Wildtrak). The Pure, XL and XLT are aimed at the utilitarian end of the market and a priced competitively for the fleets, while the Progressive and Limited are targeted towards owner-operators and the Power and Wildtrak are aimed at the lifestyle market.
The Ranger XL doesn’t compare even with the Pure in terms of spec, but the X-Class Pure and Ranger XLT have all the basics covered; both come with electrically-adjustable door mirrors, cruise-control, air conditioning, a 12v socket, fog lights, electric windows and a DAB radio with a touchscreen display (7-inch on the X-Class and 4.2-inch on the Ranger), Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary connectivity.
The Pure also comes with a parking camera and a load area lining, while the Ranger XLT looks better with 16-inch alloy wheels (steel on the Pure) and body-colour bumpers.
Moving up to the mid classes, the Progressive and Limited both gain heated front seats, 17-inch alloy wheels and securing rails in the load compartment. The Limited, however, also gains leather seats, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen display with voice controls, a load bed liner, rear parking sensors and an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat. The X-Class Progressive receives a superior 8-speaker sound system, carpet flooring and body-coloured bumpers.
On the flagship X-Class Power, customers receive upgraded 18-inch alloys, a chrome bumper and detailing around the fog lights, LED headlights, leather seats, an 8-way adjustable driver’s seat, climate control and keyless entry and start.
The Wildtrak, meanwhile, also gain 18-inch alloys but, instead of chrome detailing, the grille, bumpers, handles and roof rails are finished in a titanium-effect material. Inside, the Wildtrak is funky and unique with its choice of seven ambient lighting colours and ‘Wildtrak’ fabric seating, steering-wheel trim and floor matts. The infotainment systems also comes with a rear-view camera, SYNC 3 voice control system with app-linking.
Weights and loads
Weighing in at between 2,213 and 2,234kg, the X-Class is the heaviest pickup on sale but the Ranger isn’t too far behind at between 2,053 and 2,211kg (double cabs). As with most double cab pickups, payloads aren’t too dissimilar at between 1,059kg and 1,201kg on the Ranger and 1,066kg and 1,087kg on the X-Class. Both pickups have a 3.5t towing capacity.
The load areas on both pickups measure 1,560mm wide exactly, although the X-Class’s load bed is longer at 1,587mm (1,549mm on the Ranger). Accessing the load area is easier on the Ranger thanks to a slightly lower loading height (835mm v 849mm). The X-Class has a load liner and LED lights as standard on all models, but these are optional on the entry-level Rangers.
Ride and handling
It’s a one-horse race when it comes to ride and handling. The X-Class is by far the segment leader when it comes to comfort and refinement and it makes an outing in the Ranger seem like your riding a three-legged donkey on Blackpool beach.
The multi-link coil suspension on the X-Class cushions the blows of potholed roads and speedbumps far better than the utilitarian leaf springs of the Ranger – which allows the shockwaves to shudder the whole cab. The X-Class maintains its composure far better going into the bends; the Ranger tends to roll a lot due to its taller and narrower stance.
While both outputs of the 2.3-litre X-Class (163hp/403Nm and 190hp/450Nm) are quicker and more responsive than the 2.2-litre Ranger (160hp/385Nm), the 3.2-litre (197hp/470Nm) is in a class of its own achieving 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds; a second faster than the more powerful X-Class. However, the 3.0-litre V6 X-Class is scheduled for later in 2018, with a 0-62mph time in around 8 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Ford Ranger Off-road
Take the vehicles off the road, however, and it’s a different story. The solid live rear axle on the Ranger provides greater suspension travel to help maintain ground contact in bumpy areas and the increased torque of its 3.2-litre engine means that powering up steep ascents and out of divots is a lot easier.
Both vehicles are selectable, or part-time, four-wheel drive with three settings; two-wheel drive high range (2Hi), four-wheel drive high range (4Hi) and four-wheel drive low range (2Low), and both come with the option of a rear diff lock.
Despite the lower approach angle (29 versus 28 degrees), the Ford Ranger is less likely to incur nasty scratches and dents off-road thanks to a higher ground clearance (229mm versus 201mm), ramp-over angle (25 versus 20.4) and departure angle (28 versus 24 degrees). There is also a much higher wading depth at 800mm (600mm on the X-Class).
Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Ford Ranger costs
In terms of pricing, there’s quite a big different between the two; the Ford Ranger double-cabs starting at £21,745 and rising to £28,595 (plus VAT) and the Mercedes-Benz X-Class starting at £26,310 and rising to £34,100 (plus VAT). Ford also offers more in terms of dealer discount, and through trade associations like the NFU (National Farmers Union) and BASC (British Association of Shooting Clubs).
The Ranger is backed by a three-year, 60,000 miles warranty and service intervals set at every year or 18,000 miles. The X-Class, however, is covered by a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty and service intervals of 18,000 miles or two years.
Returning 40.4mpg on the combined cycle, the Ranger’s smaller 2.2-litre engine is by far the most economical engine. The X-Class achieves between 35.8 and 37.2mpg depending on output and transmission, while the 3.2-litre can return just 32.1mpg if the automatic transmission is selected. Residual values are far better on the X-Class, although replacement parts are cheaper on the Ranger.
Mercedes-Benz X-Class v Ford Ranger verdict
The Ranger and X-Class have completely different appeals and qualities and, in many respect, they’re a different ‘class’ of pickup. With its plush interior, stylish appearance, comfortable ride and whole host of creature comforts, the X-Class is ideal for the affluent owner-operator who uses their pickup for light work, commuting and lifestyle activities. However, with its more affordable pricing, great off-road abilities and practicality, is well-suited for more commercial activities, although its rugged looks and advanced technology, particularly on the Wildtrak spec, also lend itself well to lifestyle customers.