They are big, they are fast, and they are fearful!

This is the battle of the heavyweights... quite literally. If there’s anything scarier than seeing two huge beasts on the road, it is seeing them race each other. Well, that is exactly what we will be doing here. We will be pitting two of the most luxurious SUVs on the market today, and the brands’ biggest offering as well in terms of size – the 2019 BMW X7 and the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS.

Exterior

Front

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While the Mercedes GLS looks butch and macho, the face of the X7 is as imposing as it can get.

BMW’s new design philosophy has found its fair share of haters. Yes, I’m talking about the kidney-grille design, but it actually looks good on the X7. Coupled with the slim LED headlights, it conveys an ‘I-don’t-give-a-damn’ kind of an attitude. There is chrome on the grille, in the grille, a stripe running down near the vents, and anywhere you can imagine. This makes it a lot more ‘blingier’ than the Mercedes GLS, but, with polarising opinions.

With the GLS, the face is a little less intimidating, and even the chrome treatment is mellowed down in comparison. The grille is slapped with the marque’s huge tri-star logo, unlike the BMW which has it placed upwards. The blackened air dams on the bumper look hollow when viewed from far. The GLS has its roots embedded deeply, and even if you have little interest in cars, you’ll still know this is a Mercedes. The GLS is a neutral design that will please all and offend none - that’s the beauty of simplistic design.

Side

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The X7 is a complete contrast here. The front is bold, but the sides are very basic, with just one crease running under the door handles. The wheel arches are not flared at all, so they flush with the body. The windows have chrome borders and the roof rails definitely add character to such a bulky SUV. Matching 20-inch, 20-spoke alloy wheels come standard

The GLS has a similar side profile, but it blends in with the SUV’s overall design better. The window line rises toward the rear, but not so much that it gives the body a disproportionate look. The rear end is almost flat, unlike the X7 which had a slightly raked rear hatch.

In short, the GLS is boxy from the side, but a perfect definition of a big, butch SUV.

The GLS comes with 21-inch tires and a starfish alloy wheel design, which does go well with the GLS’ personality, but I feel the optional wheel designs may play into the looks package a little better.

Rear

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The first thought that came into my mind is “Did the i division work on the rear?”

The rear of the X7 is – what’s the word I’m looking for? Ummm – befuddling.

I have no idea how an automaker can go from having an attention-seeking front end, to a plain side profile, to an oddly-shaped rear. In my opinion, this rear design belongs more to a small seven-seater utilitarian car than an SUV that is almost touching the six-figure price range. The taillights are slim and wide, just like the headlights. There is a chrome strip in the center. The bumper houses two exhaust outlets that add a bit of sport into the equation.

The GLS’ rear is more in line with its body shape and has a minimalistic design. The taillights are sized just right and are connected by a chrome strip. There is a prominent boot lip that somehow matches the bumper well. Dual exhaust outlets, slim reflectors, and a silver skid plate round out the rear profile.

Exterior Dimensions

BMW X7 xDr40i Mercedes-Benz GLS
Length inches 203.3 202
Width inches 78.7 84.3
Height inches 71.1 72.8
Wheelbase inches 122.2 121

Interior

Seating

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Interior
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The BMW X7 is available with the choice of two seating configurations. It can be a six-seater or a seven-seater. In the six-seat configuration, the middle row has two individual captain seats. The second row of seats are said to offer 90 mm of extra legroom and 30 mm of extra headroom than its smaller sibling, the X5.

Mercedes claims to have improved the interior space of the GLS and the whole cabin's general aura as well.

Headroom and legroom are now better than what it used to be. The front seats are electronically adjustable and have heating and cooling. The second-row is more than usable for three people and is reportedly comfortable for full-sized adults - even on long journeys.

Cargo Space

2019 BMW X7
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With all rows in the upright position, the X7 isn’t exactly a hauler with 11.5 cubic feet of cargo space.

This should be good enough for your airport runs, but not for long trips with big families. With the third-row folded, this increases to 75 cubic feet; which is still less than the GLS.

So, if cargo space is a decision-making aspect, then the X7 is not going to satisfy you.

The Mercedes GLS is superior in cargoroom; with 16 cubic feet of space at your disposal with all three rows in the upright postion. With only two rows up, the GLS offers 93.8 cubic feet, which is more than healthy for you to carry your world around. It is interesting how Mercedes has managed to offer its customers with splendid interior space as well as cargo space.

Dashboard and Center Console

2019 BMW X7
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The BMW’s cabin area will keep you occupied at all times.

Unlike the GLS, this is one funky cabin with different textures and designs all around.

The ambient lighting is the highlight in here. The steering wheel is meaty to hold and has thumb contours as well. The cowl over the speedometer makes you feel like you are in the cockpit of a sports car. For the basic controls like air conditioning, BMW has provided physical buttons. Now, these buttons seem to be on a smaller side. This is not any sort of hindrance, but just an observation.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Interior
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The dashboard and center console of the Mercedes GLS reeks of quality.

There is a generous use of soft plastics and everything here feels premium.

Four circular vents can cool up the cabin and in a jiffy with the automatic climate control. Although there is a l-o-t of space inside, the integration of the whole thing is done impressively. The waterfall console has basic functionalities and will keep most occupants happy at all times. Tech-savvy people will be disappointed. There is a flat-bottom steering wheel that seems just right while the door panels are covered in soft, elegant fabric.

Interior Dimensions

BMW X7 Volvo XC90
Headroom front inches 41.9 41.2
Headroom 2nd row inches 39.9 40.0
Headroom 3rd row inches 36.6 38.9
Legroom front inches 39.8 40.3
Legroom 2nd row inches 37.6 38.5
Legroom 3rd row inches 33.3 35
Trunk volume (SAE) ft³ 48.6 – 90.4 49.4 - 93.8

Technology

2019 BMW X7
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The X7 is the clear winner of the two compared here.

It features a healthy amount of standard tech, including a 12.3-inch screen in the instrument cluster which is complemented by a 12.3-inch infotainment screen atop the center stack.

This gives it a very futuristic vibe. Some of the standard features include a 20GB hard-drive-based navigation system, wireless charging, six USB ports, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 205-watt, 10-speaker audio system. A Harman Kardon premium audio system is standard equipment on the X7.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Interior AutoShow
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Just like its exterior styling, even the technology in the 2019 Mercedes GLS is old-school. While there’s nothing to complain about, there is nothing that makes your eyes go wide, or make you grin; or even excited, for that matter.

The standard GLS offers power features, remote start, an 8.4-inch COMAND infotainment system, and cruise control.

Move up the trim ranks and you can have panoramic sunroof, 360-degree view camera, Bang & Olufsen audio, navigation, and ambient lighting, to name a few.

The COMAND system is old and outdated. Period. When you ‘COMAND’ such a price tag, you ought to offer a decent, setup that even a 60-year won’t say it’s dated. Even though I prefer physical knobs and buttons to touchsrceens, I feel the interface is aging, not unintuitive, and difficult to control without a touchscreen. Mercedes should have gone with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto over the COMAND-equivalent features, but even then the knob/dial controller is a major hindrance, and there are extra steps involved to connect a smartphone.

Drivetrain Choices

2019 BMW X7
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BMW offers the X7 with the same gasoline engines found in the X5, albeit with slightly revised power ratings. The base trim is powered by a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder that produces 335 ponies and 330 pound-feet of torque.

If this isn’t enough, you can choose the higher trim and enjoy a 4.4-liter, V-8 that develops 456 horses and 479 pound-feet of torque.

The Eurpoean base-trim X7s have 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that generates 261 horses and 457 pound-feet of torque.

All X7 models come standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system. The top-trim features an electronically controlled M Sport differential as part of its standard equipment. Also available is an optional Off-Road Package, which features four surface-specific driving modes.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
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The base GLS comes with a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbocharged engine that churns out 362 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque.

The next trim will get you a 4.7-liter, V-8 that produces 449 ponies and 516 pound-feet of torque.

The top AMG-trim has a mammoth 5.5-liter, V-8 that develops 577 horses and 561 pound-feet of torque.

The two smaller engines come with a nine-speed automatic transmission while the top 8-banger unit is mated to a seven-speed automatic gearbox. For the off-road fanatics, you can choose from options like a trailer hitch, an off-road group with locking center differential and a reduction gear.

BMW X7 xDr40i BMW X7 xDr50i Mercedes-Benz GLS Mercedes-Benz GLS
Engine type B58 N63 3.0-liter, six-cylinder turbocharged 4.7-liter, V-8
Power hp 335 HP @ 5,500 – 6,500 RPM 456 HP @ 5,250 – 6,000 RPM 362 @ 5,250 - 6,000 449 HP
Engine torque ft. lbs. 330 LB-FT @ 1,500 – 5,200 RPM 479 LB-FT @ 1,500 – 4,750 RPM 369 @ 1,800 –4,500 516 LB-FT

Performance

2019 BMW X7 Exterior
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The 3.0-liter engine in the X7 allows you to sprint from naught to 62 mph in 5.8 seconds, which is decent for an SUV this humongous.

It tops out at 152 mph. The 4.4-liter unit can hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.2 seconds. The X7 touches the 155-mph mark before losing its breath. The Eurpoean X7 takes a bit longer to touch the 62-mph mark before hitting its top speed of 141 mph.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 654020
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In the 2019 Mercedes GLS, the 3.0-liter unit touches 62 mph in 6.6 seconds with a top speed of 131 mph.

The 4.7-liter unit can do the run 5.3 seconds with the same top speed of 131 mph, whereas the top 5.5-liter unit can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds before topping out at 168 mph.

BMW X7 xDr40i BMW X7 xDr50i Mercedes-Benz GLS 3.0 Mercedes-Benz GLS
0-60 mph seconds 5.8 5.2 6.6 5.3
Top speed mph 152 155 131 131

Final Thoughts

2019 BMW X7 Exterior
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The BMW X7 and the Mercedes GLS are poised evenly, with each having its own set of pros and cons.

If you like something attention-seeking, the X7 should be your pick; if you want an SUV that will age gracefully, then the GLS is what you must go for. If cargo space and cabin space is your main criteria, go for the GLS with eyes closed. But if you like technology, the X7 will make you happier.

Want an SUV that engaging and fun to drive? Well, we leave that to you with the spec-sheet open. We’re not trying to start a fan-boy rumble over here, after all. With that said, it all boils down to what your needs are. In terms of brand value, both have a strong fan-following and are equally respected.

Further reading

2019 BMW X7 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X7.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class.

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