The Mercedes-Benz GLT Pickup Truck: Coming Soon

The Mercedes-Benz GLT: Das Pickup!. © Daimler Media/Carbuzz

Mercedes-Benz recently took the wraps off plans to introduce their first modern pickup truck. Why? Pickup trucks are dominating the automotive market, thanks to still-affordable gas prices and innovative, jack-of-all trades models. In the US, around 80% of the market belongs to fullsize pickups and around 2 million of the steeds are sold yearly. Most of those sales are firmly in the grip of the big three-namely the Ford F-Series, the Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra and Ram’s pickups. Midsize pickups, however, are seeing an explosion in sales growth—moving 151,208 models in the US since the start of 2015. Toyota’s new Tacoma is at the top of the heap, followed closely by the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Is there room for a luxury midsized truck to squeeze in? Mercedes thinks so.

Rumored to be the GLT, the new pickup would be manufactured by Nissan, giving the luxury automaker a fast way to having a platform that it could customize. This is the “Wait…what?” moment. We’re not talking about a luxury Frontier. Outside the States Nissan’s midsize-fighter is the NP300 Navara, a competitive midsize that’s seriously refreshed for 2015…and the new Ford Ranger. Unlike some of the other pickup trucks that are manufactured in countries which wouldn’t benefit from an end of the Chicken Tax (see our article here), Car Magazine reports that Mercedes is very interested in producing the pickup at a Nissan facility in Mexico. Mexican production means that in the age of NAFTA, all that’s required for a launch in the US market is the green light from Mercedes itself. The manufacturer is definitely preparing for a launch in South America, Africa and the Middle East and is apparently mulling a US launch. We think if the pace of growth in midsize pickups continues, Mercedes-Benz will have to join the party. Hyundai will, too.

The GLT will be engineered to deliver the gambit from more capable off-road performance to refined, car-like road manners. A live rear axle is reported be standard, but buyers will be given the option of an independent rear suspension. A ladder frame ensures rigidity and the pickup will come exclusively as a four-door cab model, unlike the Nissan’s King or Double Cab choice in the Navara. As far as trim levels go, three are rumored to be in the works. A workhorse trim is planned, pointing to the capability-oriented ambitions of the GLT and a base price that’s anticipated to be around $30,000 in certain markets. Respecting the modern pickup formula, dual-use and leisure version will be offered, as well. The well-equipped leisure trim is expected to be the hottest seller.

Nissan’s midsize can be optioned with either a 2.5-liter DOHC I4 diesel engine, good for 190 hp and 332 lb.-ft. of torque or a 2.5-liter I4-cylinder gasoline engine that develops around 175 hp and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. Mercedes has a broad range of powerplants in its stable to choose from, with likely options being four- and six-cylinders engines in diesel and gasoline flavors. Transmission choices are likely to be a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic, and the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system will undoubtedly make an appearance.

Mercedes plans to make the GLT a distinctive pickup not only through powerplants and drivetrain, but with a serious dollop of its trademark luxury. State-of-the-art connectivity, along with excellent fit and finish are expected. The unexpected includes an electric rear window in lieu of a sunroof, a tall and wide tailgate that can be locked at 90- and 180-degree angles, three different cabin configurations and an instrument panel that shares its DNA with the GLE- and GLC-classes.

On a slightly different note, many of the dramatic refinements found in the new Nissan NP300 Navara are expected to make their way to Frontier…soon.