Which Car Should You Buy: An Audi, BMW, or Mercedes? Find Out Here
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Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz are three German automakers that, for most, provoke specific emotions when their names come to mind. Maybe you conjure a sense of refinement. Or perhaps you think about the automakers’ history or their quality over quantity mindset. You could even be thinking about an upscale, luxury driving experience, too.
Whatever pops into your head, there’s no denying that all three brands hold these qualities in common.
So what’s the difference between these automakers, if there is any, and which one is better? We’ll go over the stats right here.
Audi vs. BMW vs. Mercedes: A History in Excellence
All three brands undeniably have a rich history. In some cases, that history spans centuries.
Mercedes-Benz was the first automaker to arrive on the scene as the first of the brands to establish itself in 1884, specifically. Next came Audi, in 1909, followed by BMW in 1916.
As a brand, Audi is committed to luxurious aesthetics, especially when it comes to the interior of their cars. No aspect of a vehicle is too small to escape Audi’s attention to detail. Still, their attention to detail is met head-for-head with Mercedes’ dominating presence, another manufacturer known for interior opulence, powerful engines, and smooth rides.
Lastly, there’s BMW, the veritable youngster on the scene. BMW focuses on the ride itself, on making it enjoyable with nimble handling around twisting roads. Since introducing a line of SUVs, these particular models have risen in popularity. BMW’s commitment to a fun driving experience also tends to attract a younger crowd.
So, with this in mind, which brand has the most vaunted history? Which will bring your purchase some prestige? Is it Audi, BMW, or Mercedes? Frankly, all three.
When it comes to car construction, these automakers are undeniably equally experienced rivals.
Engine and Mechanics: Who Comes Out on Top?
We need to state upfront that we can’t talk about engine specifics for each of these automakers, not because the specs aren’t there, but because there will be wide variations between the different models. There will be variation between model trims, too.
That said, we can cover the overall themes.
Audi is known for its quiet engines, with a few exceptions: their love for elegance extends into the mechanics themselves. That also means many vehicles have a stiffer suspension that keeps the road bumps to a minimum.
With BMW, you’re looking at a company that takes the “fun and exciting” approach to a whole new level. They want the drive to be ergonomic and adaptable, above all else.
Finally, Mercedes is a car company that is all about upscale class and making a statement. That translates into their cars’ mechanics, with vehicles that often have big, powerful engines that can get you up to speed extremely fast.
Audi, BMW, or Mercedes? Interior, Exterior, and Tech Features
The exterior and interior detailing of these brands is where you’ll see some significant differences.
Deeply concerned with elegance, as an automaker, Audi uses high-end upholstery for its seating, soft-touch plastic interiors, and the integration of some incredible tech features. On the outside, you can often recognize an Audi for its distinctive four-ring badge and sleek curves.
With BMW, think precision bodywork and distinctive twin-kidney grilles. Inside, you’ll find seating comparable to Audi’s, although maybe a touch less luxurious and more focused on comfort. BMW shines in its tech features. A notable example? The BMW X3 Series contains a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, blind-spot monitoring, and lane departure warnings as standard features in newer models.
Finally, there’s Mercedes-Benz, with its statement pieces. As always, this automaker is concerned with sheer power and refinement. For example, in newer base models of the CLA 250 Class, expect to see leather seats, a leather and metallic steering wheel, and leatherette door trim.
2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i (from $32,500)
For Safety and Handling, Which is Better? Audi, BMW or Mercedes?
What about safety and handling when it comes to these three automakers?
First, you can expect Audi to emphasize all-wheel drive, making their vehicles reliable in acclimate weather. Audi's handling on the road is not as agile as BMW's because of a generally stiffer suspension. Still, for safety ratings, Audi has some of the greatest. The 2017 A4 and 2019 A4 models won five out of five stars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
When you compare Audi and BMW in terms of reliability, expect agile handling in the latter, emphasizing responsiveness. The option to include an all-wheel-drive system is available on newer models, making BMW cars great for driving in colder weather conditions. When it comes to safety ratings, BMW matches Audi beat-for-beat.
Lastly, there's Mercedes-Benz, which offers all-wheel drive for most models, too. Mercedes puts safety first and foremost. In fact, they've been a forerunner in auto safety trends for so long that they helped to develop "crumple zones" in cars during the 1950s. This feature allows a vehicle to protect its occupants more readily during a collision by decreasing impact force.
Looking for a Model? Here Are the Best Luxury Cars To Buy
Now that we've covered these three brands in terms of critical performance, what are some of their standout models?
Audi's A3, A4, and A5 lines are big, quiet rides that fit four to five passengers. That makes them well suited for commuting or general city life. If you're wondering how much an Audi A4 costs, this article will give you a decent idea.
Regardless of the manufacturer, all of these cars unsurprisingly cost a pretty penny. That's especially true if you're buying one of these luxury vehicles new straight off the lot. However, if you shop Shift for earlier models, you can find your dream luxury car directly from the comfort of your home and get a fair price from the get-go without having to haggle. You'll also know the vehicle has no hidden issues, thanks to the 150-point inspection that Shift's certified mechanics perform before each sale.
And if you decide these luxury brands are not for you, but you still want to shop for cars online, this article about the most reliable used cars under $10,000 will give you a solid idea of the variety of makes and models Shift currently has in stock.
2017 Audi A4 Premium (from $26,500)
When You Compare Audi, Mercedes, and BMW, Who Wins?
So which brand should you go with, now that we’ve compared all three manufacturers? Audi, BWM, or Mercedes? Which one will give you the most luxurious driving experience that is custom-tailored to your needs?
Well, it’s important to note that all three automakers are committed to quality. So if you’re looking for a comfortable, cushy ride, you’d be fine to go with any of the three.
If you want to prioritize looks over everything else, Audi often edges out its competitors. If you want a fun, exciting driving experience, BMW will be your safest bet. For speed, engine power, and safety, Mercedes is still king. If you want more info on that last brand, in particular, be sure to read up on Mercedes-Benz prices here.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 (from $21,600)
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.