Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2009 Mercedes Benz M-Class VS 2009 BMW X5 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2009 Mercedes Benz M-Class

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2009 BMW X5

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes M Class have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes M Class are height adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW X5 doesn’t offer height adjustable seat belts.

Both the M Class and the X5 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mercedes M Class is safer than the X5:

M Class




5 Stars

5 Stars

Head Injury Index





5 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

40 g’s

48 g’s

More stars indicate a better overall result. Lower numbers indicate better individual test results.

Engine Comparison

The ML350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 8 more horsepower (268 vs. 260) and 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 225) than the X5 3.0si’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. The ML550’s standard 5.5 DOHC V8 produces 32 more horsepower (382 vs. 350) and 41 lbs.-ft. more torque (391 vs. 350) than the X5 4.8i’s standard 4.8 DOHC V8.

The M Class’ 3.0 turbo V6 diesel produces 173 lbs.-ft. more torque (398 vs. 225) than the X5 3.0si’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl. The M Class’ 3.0 turbo V6 diesel produces 48 lbs.-ft. more torque (398 vs. 350) than the X5 4.8i’s standard 4.8 DOHC V8.

As tested in Consumer Reports the ML350 is faster than the X5 3.0si:

M Class


Zero to 30 MPH

2.8 sec

3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

7.8 sec

8.6 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

5.3 sec

5.5 sec

Quarter Mile

16.1 sec

16.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

87 MPH

86 MPH

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the M Class’ engines produce their peak torque and horsepower at lower RPM’s than the X5:



ML350 3.5 DOHC V6

6000 RPM

2400 RPM

ML550 5.5 DOHC V8

6000 RPM

2800 RPM

X5 3.0si 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl.

6600 RPM

2750 RPM

X5 4.8i 4.8 DOHC V8

6300 RPM

3400 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the ML320 BlueTEC gets better fuel mileage than the X5 3.0si (18 city/24 hwy vs. 15 city/21 hwy).

The M Class has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the X5 (25.1 vs. 22.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Tires and Wheels Comparison

The M Class’ tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) which provides a stiffer sidewall than the X5’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M Class has standard 19 inch wheels. Smaller 18 inch wheels are standard on the X5.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For better maneuverability, the M Class’ turning circle is 4.1 feet tighter than the X5’s (37.9 feet vs. 42 feet).

For greater off-road capability the M Class has a 3.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the X5 (11.4 vs. 8.3 inches), allowing the M Class to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis Comparison

The Mercedes M Class may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the BMW X5.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the ML350 is quieter than the X5 3.0si (71 vs. 73 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

The M Class has 10.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the X5 (113 vs. 102.4).

The M Class has .6 inches more front headroom, 2.2 inches more front legroom, .8 inches more rear headroom, 3.4 inches more rear legroom and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the X5.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The M Class has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the X5 with all its rear seats folded (72.4 vs. 61.8 cubic feet).

The M Class’ liftgate lifts up in one piece, completely out of the way of loading and unloading, while sheltering the cargo loading area. The X5’s tailgate’s top part raises up, but the bottom part lowers, getting in the way of loading and making an uneven surface for sliding cargo.

Ergonomics Comparison

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the X5, the M Class offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the M Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The X5 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. It’s standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

Consumer Reports rated the M Class’ headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the X5’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the M Class has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The X5 doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the M Class has standard extendable sun visors. The X5 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the M Class offers an optional Distronic, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The X5 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The M Class offers an optional 115 volt a/c outlet, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters which can break or get misplaced. The X5 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The M Class is less expensive to operate than the X5 because typical repairs cost much less on the M Class than the X5, including $255 less for front struts and $282 less for a timing belt/chain.

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