Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2013 Mercedes Benz M-Class VS 2013 BMW X3 Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2013 Mercedes Benz M-Class

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VS

2013 BMW X3

Safety Comparison

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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 X3 doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The M-Class’ front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The X3 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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 X3 doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The M-Class offers optional PRE-SAFE Brake, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The X3 doesn't offer crash mitigation brakes.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the M-Class helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The X3 doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The M-Class’ optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them and moves the vehicle back into its lane. The X3 doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

The M-Class’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The X3 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the M-Class and the X3 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

The Mercedes M-Class weighs 529 to 928 pounds more than the BMW X3. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Reliability Comparison

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 9th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 10th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2012 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 42 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Engine Comparison

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The ML350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 62 more horsepower (302 vs. 240) and 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 260) than the X3 xDrive28i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The ML350’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 2 more horsepower (302 vs. 300) than the X3 xDrive35i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. The ML550’s standard 4.7 turbo V8 produces 102 more horsepower (402 vs. 300) and 143 lbs.-ft. more torque (443 vs. 300) than the X3 xDrive35i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

The M-Class’ 3.0 turbo V6 diesel produces 195 lbs.-ft. more torque (455 vs. 260) than the X3 xDrive28i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The M-Class’ 3.0 turbo V6 diesel produces 155 lbs.-ft. more torque (455 vs. 300) than the X3 xDrive35i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the ML350 is faster than the X3 xDrive28i:

M-Class

X3

Zero to 30 MPH

2.5 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93 MPH

91.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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The M-Class 350 BlueTEC’s standard fuel tank has 6.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 (24.6 vs. 17.7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The M-Class 350/550’s standard fuel tank has 10 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 (27.7 vs. 17.7 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the ML550’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the X3:

ML350

ML550

X3 xDrive28i

X3 xDrive35i

Front Rotors

13 inches

14.8 inches

12.9 inches

13 inches

The M-Class stops shorter than the X3:

M-Class

X3

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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For better traction, the M-Class has larger standard tires than the X3 (255/50R19 vs. 245/55R17). The M-Class’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X3 (265/45R20 vs. 245/55R17).

The M-Class’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the X3 xDrive28i’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the M-Class has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the X3 xDrive28i. The M-Class’ optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the X3.

The M-Class has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the X3, it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The M-Class offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The X3 doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The M-Class has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The X3 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the M-Class’ wheelbase is 4.2 inches longer than on the X3 (114.8 inches vs. 110.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the M-Class is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.3 inches wider in the rear than on the X3.

The ML350 4MATIC handles at .85 G’s, while the X3 xDrive28i pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the M-Class Airmatic has a 2.7 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the X3 (11.2 vs. 8.5 inches), allowing the M-Class to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space Comparison

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The M-Class has 1.2 inches more front shoulder room and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the X3.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the M-Class’ rear seats recline. The X3’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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The M-Class has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the X3 with its rear seat up (36.2 vs. 19 cubic feet). The M-Class has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the X3 with its rear seat folded (80.3 vs. 56.6 cubic feet).

The M-Class’ cargo area is larger than the X3’s in almost every dimension:

M-Class

X3

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

39”/67.8”

37”/68”

Max Width

53”

48”

Min Width

40.5”

43”

Height

36”

31”

Ergonomics Comparison

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the X3, 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.

The M-Class’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The X3 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The M-Class’ front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The X3’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the M-Class offers optional dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The X3 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 X3 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 X3 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

To help keep rear passengers entertained, the M-Class offers optional rear seat controls for the radio which can play a separate audio source. The X3 doesn’t offer rear seat audio controls.

The M-Class offers an optional 115 volt a/c outlet in the cargo area, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters which can break or get misplaced. The X3 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The M-Class’ optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The X3 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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The M-Class will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The Intellichoice estimates that the M-Class will retain 50.47% to 56.53% of its original price after five years, while the X3 only retains 45.49% to 45.62%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the M-Class is less expensive to operate than the X3 because typical repairs cost much less on the M-Class than the X3, including $379 less for an alternator, $79 less for a fuel pump, $3 less for front struts and $129 less for a power steering pump.

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