BMW X7 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - April 2, 2019

With the BMW X7, the Bavarian marque finally brought a competitor to the full-size SUV market. It was a little late to the party, as brands like Range Rover, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz had been selling theirs for years. The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is perhaps the best example of the class, with cavernous space matched by luxurious quality. Does the X7 have what it takes to take on its established rival?

See a side-by-side comparison of the X7 & GLS-Class »

What the X7 Gets Right

The BMW X7’s greatest advantage is youth. Although the GLS-Class has only borne its name since 2016, the architecture dates back to 2013. The X7 is a spring chicken that debuted in 2019, making it the more modern vehicle.

With modernity comes technology, and the X7 pulls ahead here. Its dual 12.3-inch information screens, standard wireless charging, in-car Wi-Fi, and 10-speaker audio system put it firmly ahead of the GLS-Class’ dated COMAND system.

The X7 arguably has the more modern look, as well. Giant twin grilles make it clear that this car means business, although they might be called either flashy or garish, depending on who you talk to.

The X7 is also up slightly on speed, at least in base trims. The X7 xDrive40i’s engine will send the car from zero to 60 mph in around 5.8 seconds. That’s significantly faster than the GLS 450’s 6.5 seconds, despite the Mercedes having the power advantage on paper.

Finally, with modernity comes efficiency. The BMW X7 achieves an EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway, and 22 combined. The GLS-Class gets just 16/22/18 mpg (city/highway/combined), which means more frequent stops at the pump.

What the GLS-Class Gets Right

The first advantage of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is price. Starting just north of $70,000, it undercuts the X7 by more than $3,000 to start.

But the GLS-Class’ greatest advantage is space. Up front, the two cabins are comparable, but the GLS-Class starts to pull ahead in the second row, with nearly an inch more leg room than the X7.

The difference is more pronounced in the third row. Here, the GLS-Class has 38.9 inches of head room and 35 inches of leg room, compared to just 36.6 inches and 33.3 inches, respectively, in the X7. The X7 isn’t shabby by class standards, but third-row passengers will be more comfortable in the GLS-Class.

To cap off the cabin wars, the GLS-Class wins on cargo space as well. With all three rows up, the X7 has just 11.5 cubic feet left for cargo. The GLS-Class has a more functional 16 cubic feet. Even with all the seats folded, the GLS-Class has 93.8 cubic feet to the X7’s 90.4.

The final advantage of the GLS-Class is a specialized one. The fearsome AMG GLS 63 isn't only a full-size SUV, but a shocking performance machine (with an equally shocking price tag). The market for such a vehicle may be miniscule, but it’s one that BMW has no answer for yet.

Modernity or Utility?

Although occupying similar market ground, these two SUVs currently offer different personalities. The BMW X7 is the new kid on the block, with nicer gadgets, an edgier exterior, and a more sophisticated powertrain.

The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class tries to make up the gap with sheer volume (plus a little performance on the AMG end). Both cars are luxurious to ride in, but the GLS-Class offers more space for cargo and third-row riders.

Our Verdict: BMW X7

The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class has a little more space, but it would be hard to call the BMW X7 cramped. We’ll take the minor trade-off for a newer platform and better efficiency. But the X7 may not be safe for long – the GLS-Class is due for a redesign of its own next year, which may make the battle even more heated.

Take a closer look at the BMW X7 »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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