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Mercedes-Benz GLE vs BMW X5: A Comparison of Specs

1. Introduction

In this prevailing world of information, any mention of the Mercedes-Benz GLE or BMW X5 is no more than a whisper that adds to an ever-growing conversation. As a key component of two of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, the GLE and X5 are vital to the product lineup of Mercedes-Benz and BMW. They are Germany's contributions to the luxury midsize SUV segment, a highly contested arena that is not to be taken lightly. Distinguished by refined tastes and success-driven mindsets, these luxury SUV owners demand nothing but the best to fit their image. The GLE and X5 are both designed to meet the expectations of their respective owners, and they are not ashamed to show it. From the opulence of a spacious seven-passenger interior to the brawn of a high-torque V8 engine and ability to tow, both the GLE and X5 do well to give off an aura of success. What's more, the recent release of the GLE has increased the inevitability of comparison between these two vehicles, and this article is just the beginning of what is likely switching between several brand loyalists in the years to come. Step one of the comparison process calls for a simple comparing of specifications between these two vehicles. The goal is to determine which vehicle is superior in terms of paper statistics before getting to the much more difficult task of declaring a performance or quality difference between the two. Given that the X5 has been around for quite some time, comparing it to the all-new GLE is no simple task, but it is a start. Here, we delve into the importance of comparing specifications for cars as greatly similar as the GLE and X5. While some will argue that a car's true worth is determined through driving experiences or intangible prestige attached to a brand, there are others that will argue that all of these factors are built directly from a vehicle's stats, and many will resort to buying a brand's car solely because it looks better on paper. With luxury cars, the price of ownership is not rated lightly, and in such a purchase an owner will want to ensure that his/her vehicle has every redeeming mechanical quality possible. These articles exist to serve as a tool of awareness for potential buyers to understand what they are getting into with a GLE or X5, and comparing stats is simply the tangible first step.

1.1 Overview of the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5

Historically this has been a close battle and one that is critical to Mercedes-Benz. The M-Class was the first significant model to be built at a plant outside of Germany in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It was a vital move in expanding the brand's footprint in the United States. It might be hard to fathom now that SUVs now make up the majority of luxury vehicle sales and a growing number are also built in the US, although 'Merican and luxury were almost mutually exclusive at the time. Fast forward to today and the proliferation of luxury SUV/CUV models from European and Japanese brands and the GLE is faced with heavy competition. Step one to reclaiming the segment sales crown is the GLE vs. X5. Step two will be the new ML/GLE Coupe vs the X6. Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW are developing a similar model for a variety of segments in an effort to attract an even wider range of consumers. In the global sales race, BMW took the overall luxury auto sales crown from Mercedes-Benz in 2014. The war is on.

The German brands target a similar consumer, yet their interpretations of a luxury midsize SUV couldn't be more different. The BMW X5 takes a sporting angle with a slight lean towards luxury, while historically, the M-Class and now GLE have stuck to a very conservative luxury SUV suited for the suburbs. From a sales standpoint, the X5 has been quite successful in the US market but has been unable to usurp the ML/GLE as top selling model in the segment. With an all new GLE on the horizon and an upcoming 3rd generation X5 in the next couple years, the two vehicles are at similar stages in the life cycle of their current models.

1.2 Importance of Comparing Specifications

But if this kind of new car deal isn't very important to you personally, you may want to consider depreciation. The expected retained value of a vehicle can be indicative of cost over time. In the case of the GLE and the X5, the expected retained value after 5 years for each vehicle is around 50% of its original MSRP. However, the projected value of a GLE after 5 years is $2,400 higher than that of the X5. Assuming this data is accurate, the GLE could be a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

There are many ways to analyze two similar vehicles. Of course, cost is always a significant factor. Drivers comparing the GLE and X5 will note that the Mercedes SUV has a lower starting price by about $6,000. But one thing to keep in mind is that the sticker price is just the beginning. What's important is the price you negotiate. Mercedes has a long-standing reputation for great deals and 0.9% financing, which can often make a GLE more affordable than a competitor with a lower sticker price.

2. Exterior Features

The Mercedes-Benz GLE and the BMW X5 are quite similar in size. The GLE has a length of 4817mm, width of 2141mm including mirrors, and a height of 1796mm. The X5 has a length of 4851mm, width of 2004mm including mirrors, and a height of 1762mm. Each car is in the large SUV category. Both cars have a sporty, athletic look and feel to them. The GLE has a more rounded, elegant look compared to the X5's more rugged off-road appearance. The GLE has completely done away with a body-on-frame chassis in an attempt to lose the rugged 4x4 look and feel. The X5 has done the same but also offers a four-wheel drive version of the X5. The wheels that come with each car differ according to model and optional extras. The GLE has wheel options ranging from 19 to 21 inches, the standard wheel is a 5-spoke 20" alloy wheel which contributes to its sporting look and feel. The X5 has much the same range of wheel options as the GLE, offering 19 to 21-inch wheels, however, it sometimes has a 22" wheel option.

2.1 Design and Styling

Though the two vehicles are similarly priced and in the same classification, they are incredibly different when it comes to their exterior looks and design. The BMW X5 has a more rugged, truck-like exterior. It fits the more traditional SUV mold and has not undergone major design changes over the years. The X5 is known for its iconic body design, which has stayed consistent over several generations. The GLE is slightly more car-like in its exterior, featuring a more sloping roof and curved body shape. The GLE looks more like a raised wagon rather than a traditional SUV, which is actually a common trend in the automotive industry. When it comes to visual updates, the GLE is the clear winner. Since its introduction in 2019, the new generation GLE has received rave reviews for its new design, which was overhauled from the previous generation. The X5 was just given a refresh for the 2023 model and reviews on its new looks have been mixed. Some have criticized that it looks too much like previous generations and has not brought enough new styling to the table. In almost every regard, the GLE looks more modern than the X5. Although looks are subjective, design and aesthetic is an important factor to many consumers when purchasing a vehicle. The design of the vehicle is the first thing you notice about it and the GLE is simply more eye-catching than the X5. The X5 has a design that may be considered timeless since it has stuck around for so long, however, the GLE looks more in line with today's design trends. When it comes to styling, the X5 and the GLE are just on opposite sides of the same spectrum. The X5 leans towards a more rugged, truck-like style, while the GLE is more car-like and modern. Both vehicles are visually representative of where the companies want their SUVs to be in the modern automotive market.

2.2 Dimensions and Body Structure

Consistency in both vehicles is found in weight, with a negligible difference. The GLE350 is 3296lbs and the GLE450 is 4720lbs. For the X5, it is 4620lbs with a 6-cylinder engine and 5235lbs with a V8 engine. Again, this is due to the X5's heavy base used for towing and off-road capabilities.

Where the difference lies though is with the body structure. The GLE uses a unibody construction, making it a crossover SUV. This enables it to handle better, use less energy, and take up less space, with a trade-off in towing ability. The X5 uses a body-on-frame construction, meaning the body is built on a strong, flat base.

Just like everything else, the dimensions are quite identical. The X5 is 4886mm long, 938mm tall, and 2173mm wide. The GLE is just 1mm shorter in height and 8mm shorter in width, although it is 33mm longer. I doubt anyone would notice the difference. The wheelbase on the X5 is 2933mm, and 2925mm on the GLE. The front and rear track on the GLE measures 1659mm and 1672mm respectively, and for the X5 it is 1642mm and 1692mm. So on the whole, the dimensions are really neck and neck.

2.3 Lighting and Wheel Options

A slight change from the standard 21-inch wheel, the optional 21-inch AMG wheel both increases performance and enhances the overall appearance of the GLE Coupe. They are built to be lighter and stronger than traditional wheels, and are a perfect introduction for additional quick acceleration and faster stopping. With a wider wheel, the GLE Coupe will handle better in the corners, and will further ensure grip and tire longevity. The GLE Coupe also comes standard with AIRMATIC Air Suspension. This feature will allow a person to increase the ride height for a steeper approach/departure, or higher ground clearance at the push of a button. This comes in handy when trying to get through rough terrain or when trying to enter/exit a steep driveway/parking garage. Additionally, lowering the ride height and decreasing ground clearance will strengthen the stability at higher speeds and further increase fuel efficiency. This can also be important to drivers who are trying to achieve a custom look with their wheels. By lowering with air suspension and fitting a larger diameter wheel, a person can achieve a new look and performance that is cost effective.

3. Performance and Engine Options

The GLE has quite a few engines to choose from, starting with the four-cylinder GLE 350. The 350 has a 2.0L turbocharged I4 that puts out 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The 450 and 580 both have a 3.0L turbocharged I6 and an electric motor to assist, with the 450 putting out a combined 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque and the 580 producing 483 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. The performance-oriented AMG GLE 53 has the same engine as the 580, but tuned to produce 429 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Finally, the full-bore AMG GLE 63 and 63 S share a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 that pumps out 550 horsepower and 516 lb-ft in the 63 and 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque in the 63 S. The X5's engine choices are similar to the GLE, starting with the turbo four-cylinder xDrive40i that puts out 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The 40i is a bit quicker than the four-cylinder GLE, with BMW claiming a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds compared to the Mercedes' 7.1 seconds. The six-cylinder X5 xDrive 35i uses a 3.0L turbo I6 to produce 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The xDrive50i uses a 456 horsepower, 479 lb-ft 4.4L twin-turbo V8 to make the 5.0 second 0-60 time it claims seem conservative. At the top there is the new X5 M50i, which uses a tuned version of the same V8 to produce 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. Like the AMG GLE 53, BMW will also offer an X5 M with an even more powerful V8, though specifications on this engine are not yet available.

3.1 Powertrain Comparison

Starting with the GLE, the model's base variant is the GLE 450 4Matic, which comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6 engine with an electric auxiliary compressor making 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, which is then augmented with an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the EQ Boost system. The system in the GLE 450 thus makes a combined output of 383 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic and the 4Matic system has a fixed 50:50 torque split. The GLE 450 is also available with an optional E-Active Body Control system that adds an additional 48-volt system that powers a hydraulic system at each wheel, allowing for better load compensation and customizable handling. The next high-performance GLE is the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53. This variant comes with a more powerful version of the 3.0-liter inline 6, this time with a twin-turbo setup and the aforementioned EQ Boost system, making 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an AMG enhanced version of the 9-speed automatic and an AMG-tuned 4Matic+ system with a variable torque split. The GLE 53 makes use of the same E-Active Body Control system as the GLE 450. Finally, there is a GLE 63 S variant that will be introduced at a later date. This variant will have a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine making 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque with an EQ Boost starter generator. The engine is mated to an AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed automatic and an AMG Performance 4Matic+ system with a fully variable torque split. This variant will also have the option of the E-Active Body Control system.

3.2 Acceleration and Top Speed

Fortunately, in the field of automotive journalism, acceleration testing becomes the great equalizer. There's no arguing with the stopwatch, and what we find here (in the case of equal engine output) seems pretty predictable. There are numerous variants of these two luxury SUVs, and their engine output ranges quite a bit. The top GLE 450 model will sprint from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, slightly quicker than its BMW X5 xDrive40i counterpart which stops the clock at 5.7 seconds. It’s worth noting that those times rank the two German SUVs near the top of the segment for base model acceleration times. The Mercedes 43 and 63 S models are both much quicker than the X5’s standard gasoline inline six, and they can be compared to the X5 50i and the X5 M50i respectively. The X5 50i will hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, a time that’s very close to the GLE 53’s run of 4.9 seconds. The X5 M50i is significantly quicker at 4.1 seconds, while the Mercedes AMG 63 is the king of the hill at 3.8 seconds. Step up to the BMW X5 M and you’re looking at a sprint time that nearly rivals a modern sports car, hitting 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds. Meanwhile, both of these brands are each known for their high performance models (AMG and M) and not one of them disappoints considering the size and weight of these vehicles. If acceleration is your game, the high performance versions will leave very little to be desired. A head to head comparison of these higher performance models provides an interesting look at the differences between German and American engineering. Our site editor in chief takes a look at the GLE 63 and its competition which includes the BMW X5 M in this video.

3.3 Fuel Efficiency and Range

The extent to which a car uses fuel will often depend on the weight, power, and aerodynamics. As well as size, the GLE is lower to the ground than the X5, which will mean less air going underneath and causing drag. However, both cars are incredibly heavy, so it would be reasonable to expect a relatively high rate of consumption. Therefore, the size of the fuel tank is also relevant, lest one consumes more but can go further. The BMW X5 has an 85-liter fuel tank, and the GLE has a 93-liter tank. For the BMW X5, it can travel about 507 miles per tank, and the GLE can travel about 600-620 miles per tank. It is difficult to estimate, but an average of 55 mph might see around 370 miles from an X5 tank and about 430 miles from a GLE tank. This suggests that the GLE is more efficient using the metric of miles per gallon. Unfortunately, there are no official 'combined' mpg figures from BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but the 'entry-level' diesel model for the X5 uses 40.4 mpg and the GLE uses 39.2 mpg, which makes the GLE more efficient. This said, it is the smaller engine BMW X5's that compare to the GLE in terms of efficiency. A 2.0L 40d diesel X5 will use 47.1 mpg. The fuel efficiency of these cars is becoming increasingly relevant in our world of ever-depleting resources, so it is really an advantageous gain for the GLE over the X5. However, fuel efficiency depends on driving style and conditions. Both cars will use more fuel if they are used constantly to tow heavy loads, so one might argue that it is more prudent to have a high-power consuming vehicle that can tow than a low-power vehicle that will still consume when towing but struggle. An electric or plug-in hybrid option is also now something that is coming of age with many manufacturers. This fuel, of course, is cleaner and cheaper, and it is something that Mercedes-Benz is pursuing with its already available GLE plug-in model. This is a field where the market will greatly change over the next years.

3.4 Towing Capacity

The most serious thing many clients are interested in when it comes to towing capacity. Luckily, both of these choices have a strong towing capacity, however you are keen on BMW's alternative package. The BMW X5 has a loading capacity of up to 7,200 pounds and has the ability to incorporate an elective trailer hitch. A more noteworthy alternative for the BMW X5 is the tow package that costs $550, yet enables BMW's bigger sports utility vehicles to tow as much as 6,603 pounds. The Mercedes GLE that was not long ago completely redesigned in 2016 offers a respectable loading capacity between 6,600-7,200 pounds. This is a generous upgrade from past models and the GLE has constantly been a strong competitor in towing capacity within the luxury SUV class. This will be viable in towing your watercraft to the marina, trailers for outdoor trip and even can help haul from work site to work site for those people utilizing these vehicles for professional purposes. Even though these big utility vehicles aren't modest, you never know when your towing capacity might help a companion in need. With solid towing capacities, you know these luxury SUVs handle themselves well working really hard. It's a certainty that soccer mothers and grocery getting dads across America have considered that last one, and in the event that you are some of those looking for a diesel and towing combo in a SUV then you perhaps might be in luck. Both German manufacturers offer diesel motors in these capable SUVs and diesel's have constantly been known for their capacity in the towing domain. The X5 offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel with 425 lb-ft of torque that can tow as much as 6,603 pounds. At the point when BMW offers their X5 with a diesel motor the tow package is included with the car at no extra charge. The new GLE will offer a diesel motor, however as far as performance specs and even the official launch date – those are still in question. Diesel motors being increasingly popular in the United States, hopefully the diesel GLE will possess the same towing specs as the X5.

4. Interior and Technology

Underneath that sleek exterior are well-appointed cabins that prioritize tech-heavy features and luxury. The BMW is less ornate, more business-like especially in cheaper trims, whereas the GLE is swathed in high-quality materials and touches of extravagance. Both Mercedes and BMW offer their mid-size SUVs in two-row and three-row forms, with each nameplate providing similar levels of front and space, but the X5 is notably tighter in the third row than the GLE. With only 4cm separate legroom in the second row, and the Mercedes offering another 3cm in the third row, it is best to think of the X5 as solely a five-seater and the GLE as a much roomier 7-seater. The X5's cargo space trails a little behind the GLE, however, it offers a cover that opens as you swipe your foot underneath, which is a feature that the Mercedes does not offer. Tasked with providing all the creature comforts and then some, neither BMW nor Mercedes have held back in offerings with their infotainment and connectivity features. BMW's latest iDrive 7 system is operated through a 12.3-inch center screen touch screen that offers a multitude of entertainment features. iDrive 7 is a standard feature and can also be found in the GLE 350d and GLE 450, however, the lesser GLE models use a more brightness-upgraded variation of Mercedes' older COMAND system. A standard touchpad controller can be found in BMWs as can Volvos, but Mercedes has done away with theirs in later models in favor of a touch screen, albeit out of reach for the driver.

4.1 Cabin Space and Seating Capacity

Oversized SUVs may seem like an ideal choice for larger families, but as our reviewers have found, making their cabin space and seating flexibility more versatile than in the past is a strategy that not all manufacturers find necessary. This slight shift in approach has led to a dichotomy of sorts, with some mid-size 3-row SUVs actually offering more interior space and comfort than their larger counterparts. This may be the case with the 2 mid-size German contenders. The X5 traditionally comes in regular and long wheelbase models with 5-passenger and 7-passenger configurations. The regular wheelbase model has grown by an inch in length and 2.5 inches in width, and although interior cargo volume has slightly decreased, the added width and lengthen wheelbase improves space and comfort for second-row occupants with increased legroom and headroom. Third-row space and comfort remains about the same, but it is possible to tell from the figures that this is more due to the fact that the X5's third row wasn't designed to accommodate adults so much as it was designed for those increasingly rare occasions when adults are necessary to seat in the third row. The GLE, however, is offered in only 5 and 7 passenger configurations, and the interior space figures between the two are quite similar. Both vehicles will be more spacious than the X5's largest interior space configuration, and this is most noticeable in the second row where legroom and headroom give adults a much more comfortable experience. In any case, the decision between these vehicles and others like them will likely depend on your actual number of occupants and how often you need to accommodate them.

4.2 Infotainment and Connectivity Features

Connectivity in both vehicles is similar. The GLE features a Mercedes Me Connect system that can connect your car to the internet with a WiFi hotspot and can be controlled with a smartphone app. The BMW X5 has a similar feature with BMW Connected Drive. Both apps help to find your car location, monitor the car, and send destinations to the car navigation system. A convenient feature that the GLE offers is a wireless phone charging and NFC pairing where you can tap your phone to the charging pad to pair it. This feature is not included for the X5.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE comes with the MBUX infotainment system that features two 12.3-inch display screens on the dashboard that can be controlled using touch, the center console touchpad, gestures, or with voice recognition. The BMW X5 features a 12.3-inch center display in the center of the dashboard with iDrive 7.0 that can be controlled with touch, the center console controller, or voice recognition. Both automakers have voice recognition systems that can adjust the temperature, play music, or find locations using natural language understanding. The most advanced feature that the GLE offers is the ability to adjust the settings of the car by using the voice recognition by saying "Hey Mercedes".

4.3 Safety and Driver Assistance Systems

In terms of nighttime visibility, Mercedes has an edge on the X5 with their night view assist plus technology and pedestrian illumination. These features use infrared technology and thermal imaging to identify objects and people, and will also spot them if they are outside the range of the headlamps. The image will appear in the center of the speedometer, allowing the driver to identify objects without taking their eyes off the road. This technology is very useful in terms of preventing wildlife accidents in rural areas. Both vehicles are equipped with rain-sensing windshield wipers, however, only the GLE has acoustic glass for soundproofing and insulation, as well as added windshield protection from stone damage.

A major safety issue is the lighting at night and road visibility when driving in adverse weather conditions. The LED high-performance headlamps on the Mercedes GLE respond to the driver's environment based on speed and lighting levels. When a driver is traveling under 25mph, the headlamps will brighten the area directly in front of the driver. When traveling above 25mph, the headlamp beams will extend the distance of their light. The GLE also has active curve illumination and cornering lamps that are extremely useful on windy roads. The X5 possesses all of the basic lighting features such as automatic high beams, and low and high beam intensity control, however, it does not have any technology on headlamp beam direction.

Forward collision warning and active blind spot detection are useful features in both the GLE and X5. The feature in the GLE sends you visual and audible alerts if you are following the vehicle in front of you too closely. The X5 feature vibrates the steering wheel if it senses that you are drifting out of your lane, and the vehicle will actively turn the vehicle back into its original lane if the turn signals are not on. Each vehicle has a 360-degree camera system, which is a pertinent feature in larger vehicles, and parking assistance. The GLE takes it a step further with rear cross-traffic alert. All of these features are very well sorted and are very useful, however, it's the systems that break new ground that differentiate these two vehicles.