2020 Mercedes GLS Vs. 2019 BMW X7: Which Side Are You On?

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.

Powerful presence

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?

  • DanSemering

    Audi Q8

    • no25

      your comment would have been better if you actually chose a car that competed with the GLS and X7. you might as well comment “Audi R8,” and go all out.

      • Andrewthecarguy

        This. Even worse when so called auto journos make the comparison. To me, they instantly loose any cred they have.

  • Jason Panamera

    X7 looks more ostentatious but I’d choose GLS becasue of the interior.

  • liams92

    Both bloated and boring. Buy an XC90!

    • Adi

      XC90 is smaller. It’s the size of GLE and X5.

    • ErnieB

      I agree but not direct competitor.. I’d still save $20k and go with the slightly smaller xc90.. Volvo designed a brilliant suv that still fresh and high end.

  • Kash

    GLS is gonna age better and Mercedes has been doing this segment longer than BMW, so there’s that. The GLS also looks more proportionate where the X7 looks like an X5 that’s awkwardly going through growth spurts, kinda got this gangly looking thing going on. The GLS also can do sporty or luxe where the X7 just can only really do the luxe and when it tries to look sporty it looks like it’ll trip over itself.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      I think the exact opposite of what you wrote.
      The X5 has aged fantastically well from the first iteration – in fact there are still versions that command a premium…a manual transmission facelift E53 is one such.
      That said, the styling of the X7 is on point in all iterations save for the super base model for Europe and the rest of the world. The GLS on the other hand requires quite a few options to ‘look’ the part.
      And the interior only looks marginally good in the front. The third row looks like a $30k vehicle.

      • Kash

        The first gen X5 has aged quite well, but the styling is drastically different from the X7’s. The X7 has taken on a front end design that is quite radical where the GLS has a less radical design overall and even in base spec the GLS still looks elegant where the X7 only seems to look decent in the luxe version (Pure Excellence I think). The photos from the initial debut of the GLS for example, the black one looks very nice, but I feel like the green one from that photoset will resemble the majority of GLS specs we’ll actually see on the road and something as simple as changing the wheels makes a huge difference because that’s all that’s different between the two (the black and green ones). The GLS also has the more fluid dash and center stack looks more ergonomic and intuitive, the seats also looks better made and comfier where the X7’s looks like typical BMW seats which to me haven’t been quite comfortable. The proportions of the GLS from the profile are also better to me, it’s comfortable to look at where the X7 just seems awkward to look at. I just don’t think the X7 is gonna hold up like older BMW’s design wise, like the current 7 pre-facelift will hold value and look better in 10 years compared to the facelift, watch. It’s gonna be interesting to see where things are in 10-15 years to say the least.

  • Bash

    The merc.

  • pcurve

    could be in minority, but merc interior bores me. I think BMW interior looks more upscale. The merc exterior looks like m-class but bmw looks much bigger.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      Nope, you are not. I think the Merc’s interior looks like a commercial van or something. Just not upscale.

    • kenny sauray

      Definitely in the minority.

    • wealth53

      Get inside the two cars! uhmm, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

  • erly5

    Not a fan of either rear view but I’d take the BMW on overall looks and interior.

  • Aelwyn

    For me, it’s the X7… though I do like the GLS better from the rear. But the X7 overall looks more distinctive on the outside and more special on the inside.

    • wealth53

      let me say this, I do not try the 2020, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

  • YUDHA BAGASKARA

    X7’s interior will be better if the steering wheel is not derived from 2016 7 Series

  • Honda NSX-R

    GLS

  • Andrewthecarguy

    X7

    • wealth53

      uhmm, you must try no way! I do not try the 2020, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

  • Some ol’ bloke

    50/50

  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    Bloaty bloaters gonna bloat.

  • RunningLogan

    I’d take the Benz simply because of the trick suspension.

  • Noah Feldman

    The Benz is the superior vehicle here. Love the Mercedes-Benz. 😍😘💋❤😍

    • Aeromann

      Mercedes was always superior, and will be. 😉

  • designer_dick

    If I was being forced at gunpoint, I’d take the X7 – it’s not even remotely handsome, but it is considerably more stately than a stretched GLE.

    If I had a free choice, I’d choose neither.

    • wealth53

      no way! You have to try it! I do not try the 2020, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

  • Rahul Mandala

    X7 any day…

    • wealth53

      You have to drive both cars, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

  • botornot387

    X7 for sure!

    • Eunos

      The X7 looks even worse in the flesh than in pictures

    • wealth53

      Drive both and you will change, I have the GLS 2017, I drove the X7, third row not good enough for adults, very little space for luggage if you have the third row up, too small gas tank, the GLS is much larger, and the grill for the BMW looks like the butt of a Baboon. Also, the driving in the mercedes is more pleasant in long trips.

      • botornot387

        I have driven both. TBH the third row isn’t an issue for me and if i needed to carry real adults i wouldn’t look at either. For me the BMW is better. The fit and finish is better, quality of materials is nicer, and i love the execution of the interior. The iDrive system is infinitely better than Mbz current system. So you have your opinion, i have mine!

        • kenny sauray

          Idrive is better than MBUX? LMAO 😂😂😂😂😂

          • botornot387

            i didnt mean mbux, i meant the current system. Mbux is only in the new gls that isnt out. and based on what i have seen from mbux, i think idrive may still give it a run for its money.

          • kenny sauray

            The MBUX can do a lot more than Idrive at this time and it seems to be getting better and better with every model they release. I can’t wait to see what the updated version is going to be like in the upcoming S-class . The good thing for us is both system will keep improving, but for now MBUX is the clear winner.

  • 31/12/2999

    Lexus LX of course.

    • Bo Hanan

      I’d take the Toyota Land Cruiser- less makeup and bling.

    • wealth53

      IMO Lexus is to clunky, too much gas per mileage, no comfortable on the third row, no folding seats third row, I wanted to like it, but I got the Mercedes, I like it so much that I have had three, two GLs, and one GLS

  • Kagan

    None!

  • Escalade Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    BMW takes the win this time. The 7-series of SUVs. I would still choose the body-on-frame Lincoln Navigator Black Label, though.

    • kenny sauray

      The GLS is being called the S-class of SUV so you already know who wins between those two. The X7 is being laughed at all over the internet for its front end and it offers nothing over the GLS

      • Wayne Hughes

        Except the need to pay for Apple Play after the first year. OMG are they greedy or what.

      • Escalade Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        To you, but all over social media the X7 is clearly the winner over the GLS!

        • Chris Ako

          lol like social media is a valid indicator of anything. Lets see how the sales of both compare and what the auto industry says when both are reviewed against each other. personally i like the gls better because its simple and elegant like a range rover but not as good. X7 is nice but too in your face without looking good.

        • Aeromann

          It’s not because many of you are wrong that you are right!

          • Escalade Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

            What?

          • Aeromann

            Should I explain it to you?

      • Navigator Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

        “The GLS is being called the S-class of SUVs.” It is called MARKETING, and YOU ARE BUYING IT. The X7 isn’t being laughed at all over the internet — maybe the sites you have visited — but Motor Trend fans have all picked the X7 over the GLS without questions except maybe two people. What is funny how MB went the cheap way out with the cheap plastic around the wheels. The X7 is far more advanced than that GLS from Alabama.

  • Ricki Boo

    X7 is super uglier.

  • Super Rob

    A couple more German vehicles that you have to lease. Once they get 8-10 years old the repair bills are so high they get dumped on the used car lots. Duct taped together for another few years then scrapped.

  • Freddy Kenny

    X7 with M Sport trim

  • Jake

    Pictures can look very different from how it looks and feels in the real world. Last year we got a used ML350 after two months of looking at X3s and X5s online. Drove both and while BMW is sportier to drive, nothing is quite like the comfort and luxury of the Benz. We also looked at Lexus, Infiniti and Volvo but these brands don’t seem to have anything distinctive that stands out. Also ridden in friends Range Rover and it was the same. The only other SUV I would consider buying other than the Benz or BMW is the Alfa Romeo Stelvio which felt even sportier than the BMW. But after a decade of driving a sports car I felt sportiness is the wrong thing to look for in an SUV.

  • Nordschleife

    The only BMW’s of recent memory that I have desired is the 6-Series Gran Coupè and the X7 so the C7 wins for me.

  • Charles B

    The X7 looks smaller in person. On the road is very taut, regardless of pavement imperfections. I was very impressed.
    I’m yet to test drive the GLS.

    • Honda NSX-R

      After seeing the X7 in person, I agree that it looks smaller in person

  • GLS exterior, X7 interior for me. Overall, I’d still choose the GLS.

  • Finkployd

    lol

  • benT

    “Which Side Are You On?”

    Tesla X.

  • Astonman

    I hope so. I’m pulling for the home team.

  • Rocket

    Luxury cars should be elegant, and there’s nothing elegant about that BMW face. Benz in a landslide.

  • Eric Sin-Chan

    Uhhhh… none?

  • Tumbi Mtika

    None, really. The GLS I “like” better, but none of of them really impress me.

    The Germans let us down.

    • wealth53

      Drive one, you will be impressed..I have the 2017 gls 450.

  • C Noi

    Gle

  • enthusia

    These two do absolutely NOTHING for me. But if I had to say, prefer the X7. Never thought I would choose a BMW over a Merc, but my goodness, the GLS is so BORING!!! All Mercedes SUVs (except the G-class) are incredibly dull.

  • Mr_Fanta_Pants

    Chevrolet Trax.

  • Leo Ros K

    I love them both but X7 is a slightly winner. I am one that ♥Love the new Big kidney grill on the X7. It definitely show A big car with a big style and perfectly fit the car.
    Why do they compare Mercedes GLS with dark side windows and BMW X7 with normal windows 🙁 Why doesn’t the do even comparison and both car in similar configurations and both with dark or normal windows.

  • nikolas karelis

    mercedes new suv designs look cheap from the outside

  • AMG44

    These are too large SUVs. I would be interested in the segment size below it. Cayenne/Q8/X5/Velar segment.
    But if have to choose between these two i would pick X7 as it has a more athletic and sharper exterior design.

  • GLS looks better in real life.

  • TheBelltower

    The exterior design is a tossup. I think they both look the part. But I just can’t with the Jolly Rancher lighting within the interior of either of these. It’s too much. It’s as if they realized their owners liked the subtle lighting in the last generations, so they figured that 5X more lighting would be 5X mo better. It isn’t. It’s cheesy.

  • Wayne Hughes

    As the owner of a 2014 GL550 I almost got tired of waiting and looked at the X7, it’s not even close the ride, the confidence and the knowledge that they won’t have their hands out every year so I can continue to use my iPhone.

  • Andrewthecarguy

    Ha! lose cred…there I fixed it 🙂
    Good catch

  • wealth53

    I Prefer the mercedes because the third row has more capacity, there is more luggage space when the three rows are up, or even when you fold the third row, and if you like long trips, the mercedes is a more relaxing car with a larger fuel tank. I have the 2017 GLS 450, I did the comparison driving an X7, I stay with Mercedes, the 2020 GLS looks even nicer. I will get one! Oh, one more, the grilled of the BMW look too me like a baboon big butt…

  • wealth53

    I have own two gl 450 since 2009 and a GLS 450 since 2017, I have NEVER had a problem with these cars. I am ready for the GLS 2020!

  • wealth53

    Escalate quality is not even close to the GLS, plus it is more expensive, terrible ergonomics, third row is stupidly designed making it very uncomfortable for adults, gas mileage is bad, it is why I bought the GLS, by the way, the GLS is made in Alabama, USA. Let’s wait for the 2020 Escalate, but so far, I have been disappointed for 10 years! 10 years ago I drove the Escalated, I wanted to like it, but when driving the GL, the decision was easy, again, in 2014, I tried the Escalate, again disappointed, I got another GL, and then in 2017 I tried with a friend the Escalate in houston, again, disappointed, I got the GLS and $10,000 cheaper, waiting for the 2020 when I will change cars again.

  • Kash

    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

  • Karl

    The Bimmer by a nose!

    • Six Thousand Times

      ICWYDT

  • Six Thousand Times

    That Benz looks like a box, the face of the BMW is just a crime.

  • 劉Weber

    Choose GLS
    because the subsequent proper rate of maintenance is better in Taiwan

  • Aeromann

    Without any hesitation : GLS.

    Mercedes is the pioneer, BMW is just copying.

    • lagunas3ca

      Pioneer of the SAV category that BMW founded over 20 years ago.

      • Aeromann

        Are you sure? 🤔

        BMW X5 (E53) – production from 2000
        Mercedes ML (W163) – production from 1997

        Who is following who?

  • Aeromann

    In case of accident this 3rd row sunroof won’t be an advantage.

  • Botond Pintér

    GLS for me.

    X7 ugliest car ever made.

  • botornot387

    you do know i dont care about comparisons. Everyone is different and that’s ok. Also, i don’t know of any comparisons done between the two. I have seen and read many reviews on the X7 and they are extremely positive. I also have driven the vehicle. It is nicer in every measurable way than the previous GLS. So…

  • Navigator Navy✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    You base your opinions with the surmise of other people — what a failure. THE X7 was picked on Motor Trend over the GLS! Get over it.

  • Robert

    Hard pass on both

  • I got a private tour of the X7 last summer. And loved it.

  • Avtomad

    X7 body with a GLS front and rear?

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