Even though there’s no shortage of contenders in the full-size premium SUV segment, two nameplates stand out above all others, as they’ve been at it for a very long time.
Nowadays you can’t mention the Mercedes GLE or BMW X5 without also thinking about the Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90 or even the VW Touareg. Heck, you can throw the Range Rover Sport in there, too, as well as the Lexus RX.
We could go on about current Coupe variants, too, or perhaps other upcoming models, but the point here is simple: Mercedes and BMW were the first European automakers to make a move in this segment, and they have launched their all-new models a few months apart this year.
Finally, a fair fight
If you think about it, the two models were rarely on perfectly equal ground when it came to technology. The original ML was unveiled years before the X5, and aside from the second-generation models, BMW has mostly launched their product way after Mercedes, which gave the X5 a slight advantage.
When the ML was renamed the GLE, for which was basically a facelift for the old W166 ML, BMW already had a brand new X5 on the market, but only because they kept the second-gen X5 around until 2013.
Now, the two nameplates are all-new, 2019MY cars, which means that you’re very unlikely to be put off by either of them as far as available on-board tech, performance and driving dynamics are concerned.
But what about looks? Surely even people looking for a generous family SUV care about aesthetics, so in the end, in which direction does one lean? Towards the modern and aggressive-looking 2019 X5, or perhaps the sleek and “sensual” 2019 GLE? These are two distinctive design philosophies going head to head.
Top notch luxury and tech
Both models should be at the top of their game when it comes to interior quality and on-board tech. While their dashboard design differs greatly, they’re both jam-packed with top-notch safety and convenience features, the likes of which previous-generations could barely dream of.
Starting with the instrument clusters and infotainment displays, the X5 has also gone all-digital, rocking a gorgeous 12.3-inch screen on top of the center console, angled towards the driver. While the GLE’s screen is equal in size, the Mercedes has two of them positioned in such a way that you’d think it’s all one big display. So while you could still argue about graphics and UI, the general consensus is that Mercedes is currently dominating the dashboard display game.
Otherwise, they both have ambient lighting, beautiful leather and other top quality materials, premium sound systems, third-row seats and an assortment of driver assistance technologies that are pretty comparable.
And the winner is…
Honestly, we can’t really choose one – that’s how close they are. In the end, it all comes down to personal prefferences. Some buyers will likely prefer the overall sportier nature of the X5 with its more dynamic styling (just look at the size of that double kidney grille!) and driver-oriented dashboard, while others will appreciate the new GLE’s more elegant, flowing exterior lines and opulent interior.
So, what say you? If you were in the market for a luxury SUV, which of these two would you pick? Sound off in the comments right below.