I drove electric SUVs from Tesla and Mercedes-Benz.
The Tesla Model Y is quicker, more spacious, and provides more range for an effectively lower price.
The Mercedes EQB is more luxurious inside and more comfortable on the road.
Mercedes-Benz is launching an onslaught of electric vehicles, but are they good enough to make a dent in Elon Musk's empire?
I drove Tesla's immensely popular Model Y SUV and the German brand's closest competitor, the EQB, to find out. After testing both vehicles and comparing them across cost, range, driving performance, and interior comfort, I'd pick the Tesla. But the Mercedes has its advantages too.
Which is cheaper?
They're neck and neck, at first glance. The Model Y starts at $53,490, while the Mercedes starts at $52,400 for a 2023 model.
Until just recently, the EQB was the more affordable option by far. But a new price cut dropped the Model Y's starting price from nearly $66,000 to where it currently stands. That makes it eligible for the federal $7,500 tax credit for plug-in purchases, which the Mercedes doesn't qualify for because it isn't built in North America.
What about range?
Tesla's always been the one to beat when it comes to range. And although some new EVs come close to or match Tesla's offerings, the EQB isn't one of them.
The Model Y serves up an EPA-estimated 330 miles of driving per charge, making it one of the industry leaders. The 2022 EQB carries a comparatively weak 243-mile rating, which drops to 227 miles in the quicker EQB 350 model I tested. For 2023, Mercedes is introducing a new long-range base model targeting 250 miles of range.
To be fair, not everyone needs 300-plus miles of range on the regular. In fact, most people can probably get by with much less 90% of the time. But that extra mileage could save you a lot of time and headache on a longer trip.
How do they drive?
The Model Y is undeniably sportier, delivering breathtaking acceleration and riding on a stiff suspension that aids agility. The Mercedes is still quite quick — all electric cars deliver a kind of instantaneous oomph that most conventional ones do not — but not like the Tesla. And its more supple suspension makes it more comfortable day-to-day.
What about their interiors and cargo space?
Teslas are refreshingly minimalist and uncluttered, but not nearly as conventionally luxurious as BMWs and Benzes. Slip inside the EQB and you'll find supple leather seats, soft ambient lighting, sturdy controls, and shiny metallic accents that contrast the Model Y's simple, subdued cabin.
Where the Tesla wins, however, is in interior packaging and cargo space. It leverages its compact electric powertrain to provide a flat floor with tons of legroom, a cavernous cargo area, and a front trunk. The EQB repurposes the same platform as the gas-powered GLB SUV, so it lacks some of the clever packaging you get in other EVs.
How does tech stack up?
In the Model Y, technology takes center stage in the form of a big, feature-packed display. It's not only stuffed with interesting tech like Sentry Mode, Dog Mode, and video games, but it's also the primary portal for interacting with the vehicle.
While this can make it cumbersome to adjust basic settings, the software is snappy, nice looking, and will delight any tech lovers.
In the EQB, tech takes a back seat. It has a modest screen with average capabilities, plus a handy trackpad to control it between the front seats. A generous spread of regular buttons and switches means you can ignore the screen altogether most of the time, which some buyers may appreciate.
Despite its more luxurious feel and more pleasant on-road manners, the EQB is a tough sell when you compare it to the (effectively) cheaper, more spacious, and longer-range Model Y. Back when the Model Y cost $65,990 and up, this would have been a totally different conversation.
Still, anyone who hates the idea of relying on a touchscreen and wants a more conventional and premium-feeling car will feel right at home in the EQB.
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