2020 Mercedes GLS vs. 2020 BMW X5

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLS have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLS are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLS. But it costs extra on the X5.

Both the GLS and the X5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors and available lane departure warning systems.

The Mercedes GLS weighs 531 to 943 pounds more than the BMW X5. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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There are over 10 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the GLS’ warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Engine

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As tested in Car and Driver the GLS 580 is faster than the X5 s/xDrive40i:

GLS

X5

Zero to 60 MPH

4.7 sec

4.9 sec

Quarter Mile

13.3 sec

13.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

106 MPH

101 MPH

Top Speed

130 MPH

129 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The GLS has 1.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the X5 (23.8 vs. 21.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes GLS higher (6 out of 10) than the BMW X5 (3). This means the GLS produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the X5 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes GLS, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the X5.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the GLS’ standard brake rotors are larger than those on the X5:

GLS

X5

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

13.7 inches

The GLS stops much shorter than the X5:

GLS

X5

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLS offers optional 23-inch wheels. The X5’s largest wheels are only 22-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The front and rear suspension of the GLS uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the X5, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The GLS has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The GLS’ height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The X5 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The GLS’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The X5 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 6.3 inches longer than on the X5 (123.4 inches vs. 117.1 inches).

The GLS 580 handles at .90 G’s, while the X5 xDrive50i pulls only .87 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The GLS 450 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the X5 xDrive40i (26.4 seconds @ .7 average G’s vs. 27.3 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the GLS’ turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the X5’s (39.4 feet vs. 41.4 feet).

For greater off-road capability the GLS has a 1.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the X5 (10.1 vs. 8.7 inches), allowing the GLS to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GLS Off-Road Package’s minimum ground clearance is 2.6 inches higher than on the X5 (11.3 vs. 8.7 inches).

Chassis

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The design of the Mercedes GLS amounts to more than styling. The GLS has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .32 Cd. That is significantly lower than the X5 (.36 to .38) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the GLS get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The GLS has .5 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more rear headroom, 4.5 inches more rear legroom and .4 inches more rear shoulder room than the X5.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the GLS’ middle row seats recline. The X5’s middle row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The GLS’ cargo area provides more volume than the X5.

GLS

X5

Third Seat Folded

42.7 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

33.9 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

84.7 cubic feet

72.3 cubic feet

The GLS’ cargo area is larger than the X5’s in almost every dimension:

GLS

X5

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

48.1”/81.3”

40.7”/70”

Max Width

49”

49”

Min Width

42.5”

44”

Height

34.7”

31.5”

The GLS’ liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X5’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Towing

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The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the X5’s (7700 vs. 6603 pounds). The X5’s maximum towing capacity is only 7209 pounds.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 23% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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Consumer Reports rated the GLS’ headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the X5’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

Both the GLS and the X5 offer optional massaging front seats. The GLS also offers optional massaging second row seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging second row seats aren’t available in the X5.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes GLS has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console and one for the rear passengers. Wireless charging costs extra on the X5.

The GLS has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The X5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the GLS is less expensive to operate than the X5 because typical repairs cost much less on the GLS than the X5, including $1344 less for a muffler, $4 less for front brake pads, $72 less for a fuel pump, $85 less for front struts, $1470 less for a timing belt/chain and $875 less for a power steering pump.

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