Luxury SUV Face-Off: BMW X5 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE

A battle between premium suburban family vehicles

The Chevrolet Silverado (left) and Ford F-150 (right) pickup trucks

The BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE are two of the longest-running models in the luxury midsized SUV category. These two-row models have an established niche as five-seat SUVs rather than following the trend of packing in a cramped third row.

Clearly, the automakers have found their place; BMW and Mercedes-Benz sell a lot of the two-row SUV models. They also share a lot of similarities, including a German pedigree, incredibly well-appointed interiors, and a penchant for pushing the technological envelope. Both SUVs have generally performed well in our road tests, and they sell in similar numbers each year.

These two premium SUVs were recently redesigned. In addition to a crisp new look, they feature new infotainment systems, the latest safety equipment, and pampering luxury features that buyers expect from vehicles in this class.

More Luxury Midsize SUVs

Similarities aside, each SUV has a distinct personality. We'll take a deeper look at CR’s testing and our exclusive survey results for each model. Which has better fuel economy? Which has a more comfortable ride or superior handling? Does one have more standard safety features? We’ll tell you which one is tops in our book.

By clicking below to become a CR member, you can get access to our full face-off, which comes from hours of testing by our experts. We've run each SUV through a battery of tests at our track, which includes braking, acceleration measurements, and our own fuel-economy evaluations.

Members also have full access to exclusive ratings on all the products CR evaluates.


The Case for It
BMW nailed it when redesigning the X5: It’s among the best SUVs on the market. Our staff particularly enjoyed its excellent balance of luxury, performance, and efficiency.

The 335-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is a peach of a powertrain. Acceleration is impressive, taking just 6 seconds to hustle the large SUV from 0-60 mph. It’s equally admirable that this comes without any of the hesitation so common with too many turbocharged engines. The transmission shifts quickly and smoothly at city and highway speeds. Plus, we got 23 mpg overall, which bests the GLE and is top in the class.

Even though it’s a big SUV, the BMW X5 rides and handles like a luxury car. The suspension does such a good job that it feels as if the BMW sails over road imperfections. At the same time, we enjoyed the BMW’s handling characteristics. Like its baby brother, the X3, the larger X5 is engaging to drive, with taut and agile handling, along with very limited body lean. 

The BMW had very short stops in our dry- and wet-pavement braking tests, and it slightly edges out the Mercedes-Benz in our scoring.

The interior is what a buyer likely expects in a near-$70,000 SUV. It’s incredibly quiet, and there’s a tasteful mix of high-quality leather, wood, bright metal trim, and soft-touch plastics throughout the cabin. All of the key touch points are well-padded and have supple surfaces.