These historic rivals have both been refreshed for the 2024 model year, but only one can be crowned winner.
In the world of the posh midsize SUV, the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class rule the roost. The pair have a rivalry that stretches back to the late '90s and, with both vehicles having received a refresh for the 2024 model year, the strife between Munich and Stuttgart has only grown stronger.
Despite being on opposing sides, the high-riding Germans share many characteristics. Both are supremely comfortable, are packed to the rafters with cutting-edge technology, and will usher your little darlings to private school without breaking a sweat.
A variety of engines can be specified with either vehicle. From sensible plug-in hybrid engines to performance-minded iterations, there truly is something for everyone - provided you can shop in this segment of course. Is it the sharp-suited X5 or baroque Benz that comes out on top? Let's find out in this comparison.
In general, BMW's exterior design leaves a lot to be desired at the moment, but the Bavarian brand knows the X5 is its cash cow and, as a result, has gone for a more conservative look. We're relieved, as the updated SUV looks great.
The X5 appears more angular than before, highlighted by the revised kidney grille and sharp headlights. The lower bits of the front bumper have been transformed thanks to new, fang-like air intakes. Round back, you'll note the taillights now boast fiber-optic elements for a more contemporary look. Overall, the Bimmer retains its classically elegant styling.
Naturally, those looking for a more athletic look can opt for the available M Sport Package.
Mercedes-Benz has done considerably less in terms of updating the styling of the 2024 GLE. From afar, you'd be forgiven for mistaking it for a 2023 model. Aside from tweaked head- and taillights, the Benz receives a few changes to the grille and air intakes. A sportier AMG Line package is available for a more aggressive appearance.
Next to the BMW, the Mercedes looks outdated, despite the fact that they both debuted in the same year. Then again, many will flock toward the more reserved GLE-Class purely because of its styling.
A host of improvements have brought more power to the entire 2024 BMW X5 lineup. The entry-level 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six now produces 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the mild-hybrid system, this can be increased to 398 lb-ft for brief moments.
This is considerably more powerful than the entry-level GLE 350, which employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot. With 255 hp and 295 lb-ft, it's got ample power but doesn't hold a candle to base X5 models. There's also a six-cylinder GLE 450 with 375 hp and 369 lb-ft, which is more comparable to the X5 40i derivatives.
Both brands offer their midsize luxury SUVs as plug-in hybrids. The X5 xDrive50e, which produces 483 hp and 516 lb-ft combined, is capable of traveling an estimated 40 miles under electric power. The GLE 400e, a new arrival for 2024, uses a compact 2.0-liter engine and electric motor to provide combined outputs of 381 hp and 479 lb-ft.
But what about those with a penchant for performance? Excluding the full-fat M and AMG models, the M60i and GLE 580 are the top dogs of their respective ranges. Both make use of twin-turbocharged V8 engines that produce 523 and 510 hp, respectively.
While BMW's engines are generally more powerful, Mercedes does offer a wider range of powertrains to suit various needs and budgets.
The BMW X5 has one of the best interiors in the segment and the recent facelift has only made everything better. Headline changes include the new BMW Curved Display which comprises a 12.3-inch information display and a 14.9-inch control display. These separate screens are housed beneath a classy glass surface and take up a fair chunk of space on the dashboard.
Tech-savvy customers will find BMW Operating System 8 to be an absolute treat and will delight in the revised BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. There's a new Highway Assistant that allows you to cruise up the motorway hands-free at up to 85 mph.
In terms of style, it's a hit. The cabin melds new tech with old-world charm; leather and wood sit in the mix with chrome and glass controls, and the tech doesn't seem overwhelming at first glance. Other niceties include a faux leather-trimmed dashboard, revised switchgear, and available glass controls.
Much like the exterior, Mercedes has kept GLE interior changes to a minimum. Aside from new color schemes, a redesigned steering wheel with touch sensors, and a few chrome finishes inspired by those in the Mercedes-Maybach GLS, it's much the same cabin we saw in 2020. At least the infotainment has been updated to the second-generation MBUX software, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can now be accessed wirelessly.
Overall, the BMW appears to have the edge here, with a more sumptuous-looking environment. If the pre-facelifted models are anything to go by, the X5 will have the edge in terms of perceived quality, too.
The upgrades bestowed upon the 2024 BMW X5 don't come cheap. The entry-level sDrive40i will rob your wallet of $65,200 before options, making it $3,600 pricier than the outgoing model. Should you require all-wheel drive, the next port of call is the xDrive40i at $67,500. The efficient but potent xDrive50e weighs in at a hefty $72,500.
If you've got money to burn and can stomach the fuel bills, perhaps the M60i xDrive will be to your liking. $89,300 is a considerable chunk of change, but you pay for the privilege of owning a fiery V8 these days. Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz has not released pricing for the updated 2024 GLE.
As a reminder, the 2023 GLE lineup kicks off at $57,700 for the GLE 350 and concludes with the $83,850 GLE 580. Based on this, we expect the 2024 model to undercut the X5 by a few thousand dollars, but that remains to be seen.
Until we've driven both, we can't say which one will be better but, in these early stages, it appears as if the BMW has the edge. More modern styling, a ritzier cabin, and more powerful engines put it ahead of the GLE - for now, at least.
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