When BMW came out with the X7 last year, we did a visual comparison between the Bavarian luxury SUV and the Mercedes GLS, which at that time was the second-generation model that started its life bearing the GL moniker.
Now, there’s an all-new version available, one that Mercedes themselves dubbed ‘The S-Class of SUVs’ – which may very well be accurate from a technical standpoint, even though the GLS doesn’t have the iconic status of the S-Class.
Both SUVs are massive and therefore quite imposing, not to mention roomy. The all-new GLS measures 5,207 mm (205.0 inches) in length, 1,956 mm (77.0 inches) in width and has a 3,135 mm (123.5 inches) long wheelbase. The X7, on the other hand, is 5,163 mm (203.3 inches) long, 1,999 mm (78.7 inches) wide and has a 3,103 mm (122.2 inch) wheelbase. Going by the numbers, the differences are negligible.
You do however get more luggage space in the GLS, where if you fold down both rear rows of seats you end up with a volume of 2,400 liters (84.7 cu.ft), as opposed to the X7’s 2,120 liter (74.9 cu.ft) volume – unless you go by its SAE rating of 2,559 liters (90.4 cu.ft). Now, boot room may not be the only advantage that the full-size Merc has over the BMW on paper. If we were to compare their gasoline and diesel variants, it would look like this:
GLS 450 4MATIC: 367 PS (362 HP) and 500 Nm (368 lb-ft)
X7 xDrive40i: 340 PS (335 HP) and 450 Nm (332 lb-ft)
GLS 580 4MATIC: 489 PS (482 HP) and 700 Nm (516 lb-ft)
X7 xDrive50i: 462 PS (456 HP) and 648 Nm (479 lb-ft)
GLS 350 d 4MATIC: 286 PS (282 HP) and 600 Nm (442 lb-ft)
X7 xDrive30d: 265 PS (261 HP) and 620 Nm (457 lb-ft)
Mercedes has yet to release acceleration figures for the all-new GLS, so we don’t yet know if its extra muscle translates into fastest acceleration times.
Who’s got the goods?
Deciding which of these two is more of a looker is a matter of personal taste. They feature completely different design languages and design philosophies, with Mercedes going for a more elegant aesthetic following its Sensual Purity styling language. The BMW X7 could be described as having a more dynamic and visually-aggressive exterior, but some may not consider that to be an advantage as it’s too in-your-face. For the exact same reason, though, it may appeal to others.
It’s the same story inside too, more or less, where the dashboard of the X7 is more angular and driver oriented, while the latest GLS offers a typical modern Mercedes-Benz cabin, with two large 12.3-inch displays that almost look like one giant screen. Not to be outdone, the BMW X7’s gauge cluster display and infotainment screen also measure 12.3-inches.
As for tech, both SUVs are loaded with the very best the two German automakers have to offer in terms of convenience and safety features. Their rides should be very smooth too, with the X7 featuring a two-axle air suspension and a Dynamic Damper Control system as standard, while the GLS comes with an Airmatic air suspension and Adaptive Damping System Plus.
Pay extra and you can get the optional 48-volt E-Active Body Control suspension for the GLS, while an Active Comfort Drive system that makes suspension adjustments using cameras to scan the road ahead can be added to the X7.
In the end, we’d probably be just as happy with either of the two. But if it was your money, which one would you choose – and why?