I drove luxury Tesla rivals from BMW and Mercedes — here's why I'd buy the BMW iX over the competition
I drove stunning new electric SUVs from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Both the BMW iX and Mercedes EQS SUV offer up good range and swanky interiors, but I think the iX is the better buy.
The EQS SUV Mercedes lent me came out to $135,000. The BMW iX I tested cost $96,000.
Not too long ago, if you wanted a big, electric status symbol, a Tesla Model X was your only option.
Now, as more automakers are getting serious about ditching gasoline, Elon Musk's firm is far from the only option.
BMW and Mercedes both recently launched big, battery-powered family haulers. I got behind the wheel of BMW's iX and Mercedes' EQS SUV to see how they stack up.
I found that both SUVs offered swanky interiors, lots of space, and a smooth driving experience, but the iX has a slight edge.
First, some background on the cars I drove: The iX xDrive50 BMW lent me came to $96,000, which included a sporty appearance package and an upgraded interior. The generously optioned EQS 450 4MATIC SUV came to a whopping $135,000.
Read more: The $96,000 electric BMW iX's luxurious interior will make you forget all about its weird looks
Let's start with the styling. Both SUVs have taken some flack for their unconventional designs, but they couldn't look more different.
Despite its prominent grille, I'd take the iX's chiseled design over the tubby EQS SUV — but both look pretty stylish and better in person than they do in photos.
Both cars make up for their polarizing exteriors with stunningly luxurious and high-quality interiors.
There were several highlights of the iX I drove, including gold-colored accents …
… massaging seats …
Read more: I drove Mercedes-Benz's $135,000 Tesla rival and experienced the electric, screen-filled future of luxury SUVs
… lots of supple leather …
… and a glass roof that frosts at the push of a button.
It has two modest screens elegantly suspended above the dashboard behind a strange, angular steering wheel.
Similarly to the EQS SUV, it also had a head-up display that projects important driving info onto the windshield.
The EQS SUV I drove was just as palatial, featuring ambient lighting strips …
… a swanky metallic finish…
Read more: Tour the luxurious, leather-filled interior of BMW's $96,000 electric SUV, the iX
… and a $2,000 Executive Rear Seating package that added neck pillows and a touchscreen.
My tester came with the positively massive "Hyperscreen," a $7,300 optional extra that adds three screens under a single sheet of glass.
The touchscreens in both vehicles are bright and snappy, but tech takes more of a back seat in the BMW, which some buyers will surely appreciate.
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So, how do they drive? Both SUVs smoothly and quietly cruise down the road, making for a relaxing, effortless driving experience.
Although both have two motors, all-wheel drive, and hefty amounts of horsepower, the iX smacks you in the face with frightening quickness if you nudge the accelerator just a bit too hard. The EQS SUV is more subdued and geared toward comfort.
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BMW claims the iX xDrive50 can hit 60 mph in just over four seconds — sports car territory.
Both SUVs feel way more nimble around town and in parking lots than their hulking frames would have you believe.
That's thanks to rear-wheel steering that's standard on the EQS SUV and optional on the iX.
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When it comes to range — a crucial factor when buying an EV — the iX has the EQS beat.
According to the EPA, the iX I tested could travel a very healthy 324 miles on a full charge. The EQS 450 4MATIC SUV earns a rating of 285 miles.
The EQS SUV offers up to 305 miles of range, but only in rear-wheel-drive models that use less energy than their dual-motor counterparts.
The deciding factor for anyone on the fence between these two luxe models may wind up being price.
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The latest iX starts at around $87,000, while the EQS SUV stickers for $104,400 and up.
Given its sharper looks, longer range, punchier performance, and lower starting price, the iX would be my pick. But you can't go wrong either way.
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