Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2015 Mercedes Benz M-Class VS 2015 BMW X3 Near Phoenix, AZ

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2015 Mercedes Benz M-Class

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VS

2015 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’ pre-crash 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.

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’ 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 468 to 721 pounds more than the BMW X3. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the M-Class its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2015, a rating granted to only 47 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The X3 has not been fully tested, yet.

Reliability Comparison

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 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 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 18th.

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 s/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 ML400’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 29 more horsepower (329 vs. 300) and 54 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 300) than the X3 xDrive35i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

The M-Class’ 2.1 turbo diesel produces 20 more horsepower (200 vs. 180) and 89 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 280) than the X3’s 2.0 turbo diesel.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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The M-Class has 6.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the X3 (24.6 vs. 17.7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the ML400’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the X3:

ML350

ML400

X3

Front Rotors

13 inches

14.8 inches

12.9 inches

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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For better traction, the M-Class has larger standard tires than the X3 (255/50R19 vs. 245/50R18). The M-Class’ optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the X3 (265/45R20 vs. 245/45R19).

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 .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Passenger Space Comparison

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The M-Class has .4 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 1 inch 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 (38.2 vs. 27.6 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. 63.3 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’ 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.

The M-Class’ optional air conditioned front seats cool the driver and front passenger and help take the sting out of hot leather in Summer. The X3 doesn’t offer air conditioned front seats.

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. Kiplinger’s estimates that the M-Class will retain 41% to 44% of its original price after five years, while the X3 only retains 36% to 38%.

Recommendations Comparison

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The Mercedes M-Class won two awards in Kiplinger’s 2015 car issue. The BMW X3 only won one award.

The Mercedes M-Class outsold the BMW X3 by 38% during 2014.

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