Electric vehicles are growing in popularity as more drivers seek out sustainable and technologically advanced options. Luxury carmakers have taken note, with brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW introducing new electric SUV models to compete for discerning and performance-oriented buyers. Two of the most talked about are the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS and BMW iX – but how do these high-end electric SUVs compare? This in-depth guide examines the key differences buyers should consider.
Background on the Mercedes EQS and BMW iX
The EQS and iX represent Mercedes and BMW‘s first forays into the luxury electric SUV segment.
Mercedes revealed its EQS SUV in April 2021 and began delivering the first models in late 2022. It sits atop Mercedes‘ EQ electric sub-brand lineup as their new flagship. With its sleek, rounded styling and ultra-modern interior, Mercedes bills the EQS as "the world‘s most aerodynamic luxury SUV" and aims to blend sustainability with high-end luxury.
BMW debuted its iX electric SUV in November 2021 after first unveiling the concept in 2019. It‘s one of the first models launching under BMW‘s new "i" sub-brand dedicated to electric vehicles. BMW describes the iX as "reinventing mobility within the luxury class" with its focus on sustainability, digital connectivity and advanced driver assistance.
Both automakers see these new SUVs as key to attracting new luxury buyers in a growing electric vehicle marketplace where brands like Tesla have already made strong inroads. The EQS and iX also showcase the latest in EV performance and tech for Mercedes and BMW.
EQS vs iX: Design and Styling
The EQS and iX take decidedly different approaches to exterior styling that reflect each brand‘s identity.
The Mercedes EQS SUV features a smooth, rounded shape with a low drag coefficient of 0.20 for maximizing aerodynamic efficiency. The front is dominated by Mercedes‘ characteristic large grille, now a smooth black panel housing sensors and badging. The side profile has a sweeping arc culminating in a tapered rear end with thin LED taillights joined by a light bar. Overall the look lives up to Mercedes‘ "sensual purity" design ethos emphasizing elegance and fluidity.
The BMW iX goes for more of a futuristic, geometric look reflecting BMW‘s focus on sustainability and innovation. The large kidney grille is closed off, with slim LED headlights sitting high on either side. Deep creases and sharp lines give the iX a more technical, robotic appearance compared to the softer EQS. Measuring 5 inches longer than the Mercedes, the iX also has a boxier, less tapered shape. Large 22-inch wheels and black wheel arches add to the muscular stance.
Inside, the EQS again emphasizes sweeping curves and minimalism, with a unique Hyperscreen display uniting three screens under a single 56-inch glass panel. Ambient lighting creates a lounge-like environment. The iX cabin looks more driver-focused, with a curved display angled towards the driver along with touch panels. Yet it still conveys openness and modernity with its signature BMW horizontal lines and sustainably-sourced materials. Both models provide the refined, tech-centric interiors luxury buyers expect.
Powertrain and Performance
The EQS and iX are evenly matched when it comes to overall power and acceleration. But there are some key differences under the hood.
The EQS SUV launches with a dual-motor AWD configuration producing 536 hp and 633 lb-ft torque. It zips from 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds – extremely quick for a large luxury SUV tipping the scales at nearly 6,000 lbs. Top speed is limited to 130 mph.
BMW offers the iX with either a dual-motor setup making 516 hp/564 lb-ft torque or a triple-motor performance variant producing 610 hp/864 lb-ft. Though heavier than the EQS at around 6,500 lbs, the turbocharged iX hits 60 mph in under 4 seconds flat with the triple motor powertrain. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph.
So while the iX holds an edge in max power and acceleration, both models deliver sports car-like performance. Each SUV offers several drive modes to toggle between max range or power. The iX brings a little extra versatility, with available 4-wheel drive for maximizing traction in all conditions. But the simpler, lighter rear-drive EQS may hold a slight handling advantage.
Range is a key consideration for any EV. Here the EQS slightly outdistances the iX with an estimated 350 miles from its large 108 kWh battery. The iX xDrive50 model achieves an EPA-rated 324 miles from its 111 kWh battery. Cold weather and performance driving will reduce those numbers, but both SUVs can confidently tackle long road trips between charges.
When it‘s time to plug in, the EQS can charge from 10-80% in just 31 minutes on a 200 kW DC fast charger. The iX isn‘t far behind, capable of adding over 90 miles of range in 10 minutes and hitting 80% in 35 minutes. For home charging, the EQS has a maximum rate of 22 kW on AC power while the iX tops out at 11 kW.
Interior Space and Cargo Capacity
As large SUVs, the EQS and iX deliver abundant passenger and cargo volume. But dimensions, seating layouts and cargo designs differ.
The EQS takes a six-seat configuration approach, with two individual captain‘s chairs in the second row. This provides more individual space versus a three-person bench but reduces maximum capacity to six passengers. The iX sticks with a standard 7-seat layout using a split folding bench seat in the second row.
Headroom, legroom and shoulder room are excellent in both models, as is typical of large luxury SUVs. The EQS offers more cargo flexibility however, with a sliding second row allowing owners to balance legroom and cargo space as needed. Folding down the second and third rows opens up generous cargo volume, rated at 22 cubic feet behind the third row and 90 cubic feet total in the EQS. That just edges out the iX‘s 18/81 cubic feet split.
So while seating one extra, the BMW offers a tad less cargo versatility compared to the adjustable Mercedes interior. But both vehicles provide the space and luxury expected from top-tier SUVs.
Technology and Connectivity
As two of the most high-tech electric SUVs available, the EQS and iX are packed with digital innovation. But the EQS pushes the envelope further in terms of screens and cabin tech.
Chief among them is the aforementioned Hyperscreen – a curved glass panel housing three separate OLED displays totaling 56 inches wide. It creates a single ultra-wide viewing area covering the entire dash. The unique and visually striking setup integrates Mercedes‘ latest MBUX software allowing control via voice commands, steering wheel touchpads and the central touchscreen.
BMW‘s iX relies on the brand‘s more conventional layout of a curved driver information display behind the steering wheel and a large central touchscreen. The crisply rendered displays integrate the latest iDrive 8 software and respond quickly to inputs. A standard head-up display and available augmented reality navigation further enhance the high-tech experience.
Both SUVs offer extensive connectivity and over-the-air update capability. Unique to the iX is the option for BMW‘s Intelligent Personal Assistant with more natural speech recognition and voice control of vehicle functions. But the hyperscreen and seamless glass cockpit design of the EQS pushes the boundaries further.
Autonomous Driving and Safety
Mercedes and BMW take slightly different approaches when it comes to automated driving assistance – but both EQS and iX models offer impressive capability.
The 2023 EQS introduces Drive Pilot, Mercedes‘ Level 3 conditional automated driving system for highways. It can fully control acceleration, braking and steering at speeds up to 40 mph when activated. Hands can be taken fully off the wheel, though the driver must still pay attention.
The iX doesn‘t offer Level 3 autonomy, but provides excellent Level 2 driver assistance via its available Active Driving Assistant Professional package. It integrates steering and lane centering support, automatic lane changes, evasive steering and more.
Safety credentials for both SUVs are stellar. Each earns top scores in all IIHS crash tests along with high marks for collision prevention systems. Ten airbags, cross-path alert, blind spot monitoring and parking sensors add protection. BMW offers more standard safety tech, with Mercedes charging extra for comparable driver assistance packages.
As expected for top-tier luxury electric SUVs, neither the EQS or iX come cheaply equipped. But the BMW carries a lower starting price.
Pricing for the 2023 Mercedes EQS 450+ begins at $108,350 plus destination fees. Stepping up to the 536 hp dual motor EQS 580 raises the start point to $126,950. Well-equipped models can approach $150,000.
The BMW iX xDrive50 starts at $93,900 plus destination, undercutting the EQS by around $15,000 before options. The high performance iX M60 will start around $110,000. With premium add-ons, iX pricing reaches similar territory to the top EQS models.
In either case, these are expensive vehicles aimed at luxury buyers who want a premium EV experience. But BMW‘s lower starting point may attract some budget-minded shoppers within this elite group. Careful option selection can help keep prices slightly in check on both SUVs.
The Verdict: EQS vs iX
The Mercedes-Benz EQS and BMW iX both impressively combine luxury and innovation in fully electric packages. But there are some key differences in terms of styling, performance, interior space and features.
Buyers wanting a more elegant, hyper-modern interior will appreciate the flowing lines and visually stunning Hyperscreen of the EQS. It offers slightly more cargo versatility too. But the iX counters with racier acceleration, available 3-row seating, and a high-tech interior of its own at a lower starting price.
Both models deliver a refined, luxurious driving experience with their plush cabins and nearly silent electric power. There‘s no decisively clear winner – personal preferences for interior styling, seating needs and brand loyalty will play large roles. For traditional luxury buyers entering the electric realm, either SUV represents an outstanding combination of sustainability, performance and indulgence.