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  4. I drove electric SUVs from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. Here's how they stack up and which I'd buy.

I drove electric SUVs from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. Here's how they stack up and which I'd buy.

Tim Levin   

I drove electric SUVs from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz. Here's how they stack up and which I'd buy.
The Tesla Model Y Long Range and Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.Tim Levin/Insider
  • Tesla isn't the only game in town anymore.
  • Mercedes has Elon Musk's firm in its sights.

Tesla is far from the only game in town anymore as legacy automakers from Volkswagen to Toyota jump headfirst into the world of electric vehicles. But Elon Musk's cars are still synonymous with EVs — and thus the ones to beat.

Curious about how the hot new competition stacks up against Tesla's hyper-popular models? So are we.

I recently tested the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV, a fancy family hauler similar in size to Tesla's Model Y, which I spent some time with a while back.

The Benz is undoubtedly the more luxurious choice — but all those bells and whistles come at a premium. The Tesla provides a more spartan cabin, a more engaging driving experience, and some cool tech, if that's what you're into.

See how these two EVs compare below.

Let's start with the highlights of the benchmark, the Model Y.

Let
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Slip inside and you're greeted by a refreshingly minimalist cabin that gives off Apple store vibes.

Slip inside and you
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

It feels a little basic and lacks the comforts of some rivals, but the uncluttered atmosphere is also relaxing to spend time in.

It feels a little basic and lacks the comforts of some rivals, but the uncluttered atmosphere is also relaxing to spend time in.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Tesla nixed basically all physical buttons in favor of a crisp, 15-inch touchscreen that acts as the portal to most vehicle functions.

Tesla nixed basically all physical buttons in favor of a crisp, 15-inch touchscreen that acts as the portal to most vehicle functions.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's where you access the radio, navigation, windshield wipers, climate settings (even the vent direction), and glovebox.

It
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

You can also use voice controls.

Plus, the responsive screen serves up quirkier features like Sentry Mode (a camera-based security system), a web browser, and video games.

Plus, the responsive screen serves up quirkier features like Sentry Mode (a camera-based security system), a web browser, and video games.
The 2022 Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Tesla regularly adds functionality — both in the form of gimmicks like a digital whoopee cushion and more practical improvements — through remote software updates.

Tesla regularly adds functionality — both in the form of gimmicks like a digital whoopee cushion and more practical improvements — through remote software updates.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

The Tesla interface looks and functions more like a tech product than traditional car software, which is nice. But using the screen for every little thing can get annoying. And I wouldn't mind a driver-facing display either.

The Tesla interface looks and functions more like a tech product than traditional car software, which is nice. But using the screen for every little thing can get annoying. And I wouldn
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

The interior feels big, and a sprawling glass roof helps create an airy feel.

The interior feels big, and a sprawling glass roof helps create an airy feel.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Cargo space is equally ample. There's a spacious front trunk (AKA a frunk), and tons of room under the hatch.

Cargo space is equally ample. There
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Out on the road, the Model Y delivers heaps that instantaneous acceleration EVs are known for.

Out on the road, the Model Y delivers heaps that instantaneous acceleration EVs are known for.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

I drove the Long Range model, not even the Performance version. And still, the Model Y was thrillingly quick and plenty sporty.

I drove the Long Range model, not even the Performance version. And still, the Model Y was thrillingly quick and plenty sporty.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Tesla says it'll hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

The Y's tight steering and sporty suspension meant it handled more confidently around corners than your average lumbering SUV. The downside is that ride quality can get a bit jittery.

The Y
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Teslas still offer some of the best range on the EV market, particularly for the price.

Teslas still offer some of the best range on the EV market, particularly for the price.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

The Model Y Long Range is EPA-estimated to drive 330 miles on a full charge and costs $48,490 before federal incentives.

The Model Y Long Range is EPA-estimated to drive 330 miles on a full charge and costs $48,490 before federal incentives.
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

Tesla has slashed prices several times this year. When I drove the Model Y Long Range in late 2022, it cost $65,990. Tesla has also introduced a new, entry level model since then that costs $43,990 and promises 260 miles of range.

Another huge (though diminishing) benefit of the Model Y is that buying one grants you access to Tesla's vast and wildly convenient Supercharger network.

Another huge (though diminishing) benefit of the Model Y is that buying one grants you access to Tesla
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

In recent months, many car companies (including Mercedes) have adopted Tesla's formerly proprietary charging connector, striking deals to let their customers use a portion of the Supercharger network.

The car suggests charging stops along whatever route you're on (based on predicted battery level). And charging is as easy as plugging in. Teslas simply identify themselves to the network and payment happens seamlessly.

The car suggests charging stops along whatever route you
The Tesla Model Y.      Tim Levin/Insider

We'll have to wait and see whether Tesla owners continue to enjoy a more convenient Supercharger experience than rivals who plan to switch to the company's connector.

The Mercedes EQE SUV is on a completely different level of luxury.

The Mercedes EQE SUV is on a completely different level of luxury.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Confusingly, Mercedes also sells an EQE sedan. But when I say EQE henceforth I'm talking about the SUV only.

And it comes with a price tag to match: right around $100,000 for the EQE 500 4MATIC SUV Mercedes lent me for a week.

And it comes with a price tag to match: right around $100,000 for the EQE 500 4MATIC SUV Mercedes lent me for a week.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EQE starts at around $80,000. The one I tested was the more powerful, all-wheel-drive (4MATIC) model with a bunch of options.

My test car came with plush, brown-leather seats that were both heated and ventilated.

My test car came with plush, brown-leather seats that were both heated and ventilated.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

The whole cabin felt sturdy and well-built, like a high-end car should.

The whole cabin felt sturdy and well-built, like a high-end car should.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Lots of leather, shiny metal bits, and a stylish wood plank sprinkled with Mercedes-Benz stars gave the interior an elevated, sophisticated feel.

Lots of leather, shiny metal bits, and a stylish wood plank sprinkled with Mercedes-Benz stars gave the interior an elevated, sophisticated feel.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Just like the Model Y, the EQE has a big glass roof. But in the EQE, there's a handy sunshade to keep passengers from baking on sunny days.

Just like the Model Y, the EQE has a big glass roof. But in the EQE, there
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EQE feels big inside, too. Since there's no bulky transmission like in a gas vehicle, Mercedes made room for a little shelf under the center console.

The EQE feels big inside, too. Since there
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

The Mercedes wonderfully balances old-school, leather-bound luxury with new-school tech.

The Mercedes wonderfully balances old-school, leather-bound luxury with new-school tech.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

It's 12.8-inch touchscreen is intuitive and responds to taps quickly.

It
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

One nice touch: Whether you're playing around with the driver-assistance settings or futzing around in other menus, the climate control buttons remain in the same spot.

One nice touch: Whether you
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

A bright and colorful driver-facing screen shows basics like your speed and range and is highly customizable. It also displays turn-by-turn directions.

A bright and colorful driver-facing screen shows basics like your speed and range and is highly customizable. It also displays turn-by-turn directions.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

In motion, the EQE SUV is quiet, smooth, and comfortable. It soaks up bumps better than the Tesla.

In motion, the EQE SUV is quiet, smooth, and comfortable. It soaks up bumps better than the Tesla.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Stomp the throttle, and the EQE 500 will dart forward with stunning quickness, like lots of EVs. That's fun for shocking unsuspecting passengers and can come in handy during tight highway merges.

Stomp the throttle, and the EQE 500 will dart forward with stunning quickness, like lots of EVs. That
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Mercedes, like Tesla, offers a handy advanced cruise-control feature that automatically guides the vehicle around curves and keeps pace with highway traffic. (With full driver supervision, of course.)

Mercedes, like Tesla, offers a handy advanced cruise-control feature that automatically guides the vehicle around curves and keeps pace with highway traffic. (With full driver supervision, of course.)
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

Plus, my tester came equipped with rear-wheel steering which kicks in at low speeds to make the sizable SUV more nimble.

Plus, my tester came equipped with rear-wheel steering which kicks in at low speeds to make the sizable SUV more nimble.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

The EPA estimates range at 279 miles for the entry-level model, or 269 miles for the one I drove.

The EPA estimates range at 279 miles for the entry-level model, or 269 miles for the one I drove.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

That's fairly competitive among US electric cars, but falls short of the Model Y.

The Model Y has a lot going for it. And Tesla's aggressive price cuts make it even harder to ignore than before. But for those looking for a more luxurious experience — I'd hope to, given the budget — picking the EQE SUV is a no-brainer.

The Model Y has a lot going for it. And Tesla
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV.      Tim Levin/Insider

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