Can the New EQS SUV Take on the Tesla Model X as the Top EV SUV?

Tesla’s Model X has dominated as the ultimate electric EV SUV. You can’t go one block in Los Angeles without seeing a dozen of these $121,000, falcon-winged, seven-seat SUVs. But Mercedes is aiming to steal that crown with the new all-electric EQS SUV. Both of these three-row SUVs are incredibly capable, comfortable, fast and, naturally, expensive.

But does the all-new EQS have what it takes to steal Tesla Model X sales?

The EQS SUV is new, the Model X is updated

2023 Mercedes EQS SUV
2023 EQS SUV | Mercedes

The EQS could be Mercedes’s most important new vehicle for 2023. Benz is known to debut technology on its most expensive versions that later shows up on other models. The EQS looks sort of like a regular SUV, but then it adds EQ sub-brand styling elements, like a smooth grille, and lots of new technology.

The EQS, though, is the first top-level EV in the new EQ line, so it offers the 56-inch curved glass Hyperscreen, for example, and new MBUX that doesn’t just show info about the vehicle, but adds meeting and birthday reminders, too. Essentially, it’s an EQS sedan made for SUV duty.

Tesla updated the Model X in 2021. It has some mild exterior updates, as well as a new touch screen that, unlike in previous versions, swivels toward the driver or passenger. It also gets the love-it-or-hate-it yoke, instead of a steering wheel. But the Model X, especially with its rear falcon doors raised, still has more curb appeal than most SUVs. But, you’re forced to get the Tesla steering yoke in the new version.

Both come in two trims; fast and faster

You can order a Model X, or a Model X Plaid. The Plaid (named after a joke in the “Spaceballs” movie), is ludicrously quick with three motors and 1,020 horsepower. But the regular version is no slouch with 670 horsepower. Either version is all-wheel drive, but the regular Model X has a 348-mile range while the Plaid can go 333 miles on a full charge.

The EQS SUV comes as a 355-horsepower version called the EQS 450+ or the EQS 580 4MATIC, which has 536 horsepower. The 450+ is rear-wheel drive, while the 4MATIC badging means that the 580 is all-wheel drive. Depending on which version you pick, it can go 373 miles on a full charge. Mercedes added four-wheel steering, with the rear axle able to turn up to 10 degrees.

Is the Model X getting dated?

New gray Tesla Model X Plaid that you can win for Omaze contest, with falcon wing doors opened
Tesla Model X Plaid | Tesla

The Model X was unveiled in 2012 however, Model X SUVs weren’t delivered until 2015 due to production delays at Tesla. Sure, it was updated recently, but at its core, it’s still the same Model X. That’s not a bad thing, as it earned a five-star NHTSA safety rating, and it’s rated highly by most reviewers for its sharp handling and brutally quick acceleration. Its new interior, according to Electrek, looks like the Model S’s.

The EQS, however, shows what Mercedes can do when it launches something all new. Of course you don’t pay $105,000 and not get leather heated seats, a power-sliding second row, and acres of soft-touch materials throughout. You also can get the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, that remembers whether you like the heated steering wheel (or hot-stone massaging seats) when temperatures dip below a certain temperature. While the Tesla aims for elegant simplicity with a center screen that does nearly everything, the Mercedes aims for a modern look that feels more like an SUV, not a hyper-fast gaming computer on wheels.

They’re both packed with tech

2023 EQS SUV interior
2023 EQS SUV | Mercedes

The Tesla has a bunch of cool features to keep passengers happy, such as wireless in-car gaming and tons of charging options. Tesla aims to lessen the driver’s workload, and for example, it has a new Autopilot function that helps on the highway with lane changes, or with tight parking maneuvers. You can even summon your Model X to you with the app.

The Mercedes EQS sedan and SUV focus on giving the driver all the info you need to make your trip easier. For example, the EQS has an off-road mode on the giant screens that show your steering angle, height, geo coordinates and more, even in the heads-up display so you can pilot it over steep rocks on a trail. It also has Mercedes Driving Assistance Package, which includes a full suite of driver’s aids like evasive steering assist, brake assist, and much more.

Of course, Mercedes knows that you’ll have passengers in back, too, and it adds two 11.6-inch displays in back and an additional tablet to control all things in the back. But, the MBUX also recognizes head movements and body language in the back and, Mercedes says, “reacts with appropriate vehicle functions,” whatever that means.

Both of these hyper-EVs, or super SUVs, or whatever you prefer to call them have all of the features, tech and styling updates that buyers of this class request.

RELATED: Why Doesn’t Consumer Reports Recommend the 2022 Tesla Model X?