Two of the most amazing modern SUVs together

Please welcome the heavyweight SUV showdown. This is the Mercedes-Benz GLE versus the BMW X5. No, you will not find out which one is better, nor will I suggest you get one over the other. You will, however, find out how two of the most astounding SUVs of today stack one against another. How do they differ? Do they bring anything new? How cool are they?

I am well aware that many hate SUVs because they find them too flamboyant and too aggressive for the world we live in, but the matter of the fact is that SUVs have become a staple of car design, leaders of technology development, and models that make a lot of money. Every SUV you buy fuels a bit of money into the development of the really cool stuff. So, as far as I’m concerned, you should buy them as much as possible.

With the recent introduction of the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, SUV fandom becomes even richer.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5 Exterior
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE both grew in size, and by a considerable margin at that. Both of them had to conform to a seven-seat layout, advanced aerodynamics, and more convenience for buyers. This required some serious departures from the design habits of BMW and Mercedes-Benz’s designers.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5 Exterior
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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In order to complement the looks of the recent line of their vehicles, both BMW and Mercedes-Benz had to reinvent the front end for their midsize SUVs.

However, apart from creating family related exterior, new SUVs also had to be as aerodynamic as possible. This created a conundrum as the cars simply could not be as aggressive looking and as sharp as before. It wasn’t feasible. What was feasible was the integration of the massive grill feeding the engine with air and fighting the heat. However, if you look closely, both the X5 and the GLE have closed side intakes on the front bumpers. Openings like this dramatically increase drag, so closing them down sends that excess of air around creating a sort of an air bubble.

As far as sheer looks go, I must say that I had a bit of a hard time swallowing such a massive kidney grille on the BMW X5. It’s simply enormous. It goes deep and dominates the front end more so than those cool headlights. Interestingly enough, the GLE does not feel nearly as aggressive as the X5. Heck, despite some nice touches on the grille, I find it restrained in a way. Even conservative. Can’t wait to see the AMG branded vehicles. They will have to reinvent the aggressiveness of the GLE.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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The fact that designers managed to make the sides of such similar cars so different is amazing.

Looking at both side by side, one can only stare in awe of all the subtle tweaks and differences between the two.

The X5 has a prominent line under the windows which slightly shapes up giving the rear end a somewhat muscular feel. Just at the end of the X5, BMW integrated the well-known Hofmeister kink. At the same time, the side of the GLE feels far less edgy and much bubblier. Yet, Mercedes-Benz designers figured out a trademark design cue. See that piece of metal leaned forward between the rear door windows and rear windows? That’s it! It is a fantastic throwback to every previous GLE. Quite striking.

As it was from the dawn of time, the BMW feels a bit sportier, a bit more racy and unhinged, while the Mercedes still retains that dignified gentleman feel. Honestly, nothing has changed between these two for generations. And nothing will.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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The rear end of the BMW X5 experienced the biggest departure from the known BMW shapes in ages. The lights became thinner, the L-form isn’t pronounced at all and they are positioned horizontally. Obviously, the lights look neat, but they do not scream BMW. At all.

GLE, on the other hand, took the shapes from the CLS and subtly tweaked them to conform with the SUV layout.

Both cars, however, have one common feature that makes me hate them - massive exhausts that simply look fake.

Yup, the Mercedes-Benz GLE, and the BMW X5 both have that kind of exhaust tips. However, much more important is the fact that the BMW X5 features a two-section tailgate. It seems that access to the trunk is far bigger compared with what the GLE can provide. Nevertheless, both feature that neat trick which opens the trunk after gesturing with the leg underneath the rear bumper.


2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5 Interior
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While BMW did make some serious moves into the future with their latest interior design, I still find the Mercedes-Benz GLE's interior to be a tad more impressive.

Yes, both of the cars feature similar technology which allows for awesome infotainment control, luxurious and comfortable ride as well as a fascinating ambiance. Yet, the clean, soothing and somehow soft look of the Mercedes-Benz GLE interior makes it more memorable.

As far as the technology inside goes, I was pressed to find the differences. Virtual cockpit, digital features, and the most advanced infotainment systems are all in place. Plus, these mid-sized cars can seat seven.

As expected, both bring some important technological advancements that greatly affect the convenience inside. I would have to say that for the Mercedes-Benz GLE the most impressive is its MBUX infotainment system as a whole. It could be the best infotainment system currently in production. This does not mean that the one from BMW lacks any features. Actually, BMW introduced the so-called Digital Key. In short, install an app on a phone and you’ll be able to lock and unlock the X5 G05 with it. It works with NFC and allows you to share the digital key with up to 5 people. They will basically be able to access the car or drive it using their smartphone for identification. Quite awesome.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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I am sure that I do not have to stress that both cars sport leather seats, optional massagers, numerous options for personalization and the like.

Yet, the Mercedes GLE does offer something called the Energizing comfort control system. This system controls the sound, scent, ambient lighting and massage function to create the coziest imaginable atmosphere inside the cabin. If you happen to wear a Garmin wearable that measures heart rate, temperature and the like, the system will take this data into account and actually create an ambiance according to the data it was fed. I’d like to try this after hitting the gym or cycling for a couple of hours.

While both cars are obviously really impressive, they do differ in one crucial area though. The BMW X5 G05 boot can swallow up to 645 liters of cargo (1,860 with the seats down). On the other hand, the GLE will do 825 liters with the seats up and more than 2,000 liters with the seats down. Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say?

Drivetrain and Performance

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5 Drivetrain
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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BMW was a bit more flamboyant when introducing the X5. We know that the car is offered with an inline six-cylinder gas and diesel engine and with a V-8. Obviously, all are turbocharged (some are twin-turbocharged), with power output ranging from 265 horsepower for the X5 xDrive30d, to 462 horsepower for the X5 xDrive50i. In between, BMW crafted guises like the X5 xDrive40i, the X5 xDrive45e, and the X5 M50d.

Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, offers the GLE 450 4Matic with an EQ Boost. This is basically a mild-hybrid technology adding 22 horsepower to the 367 horsepower of the six-cylinder engine inside. It is called the integrated starter/alternator (ISG), and it provides a seamless Start/Stop process, helps with coasting, and lowers the fuel consumption considerably.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Drivetrain And Performance
Engine turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder
Horsepower 255 hp, 362 hp
Drivetrain all-wheel drive
Transmission nine-speed automatic
2019 BMW X5 Drivetrain And Performance
Engine 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, 4.4-liter V-8
Horsepower 335 hp, 456 hp
Drivetrain all-wheel drive
Transmission eight-speed automatic

Final Thoughts

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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Whether you like it or not, the BMW X5 G05 and the new Mercedes-Benz GLE are the rulers of the mid-size luxury segment.

The Audi Q7 is really close to them too, but at this point in time, two of the most cherished German producers revealed their SUVs last. Thus, they are the best. Probably.

Now, I see some physical differences between the two, but the thing is that BMW and Mercedes are targeting different buyers with their similar SUVs. As always, BMW targets sports types. Mercedes targets those who like comfort more than anything. No wonder that the BMW X5 M50d is already available, while, at the same time Benz crafted a system to automatically adapt the comfort for its occupants. This says something about both companies. About both SUVs as well.

Further Reading

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Vs. 2019 BMW X5
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Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X5.

Safet Satara
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