2018 Mercedes GLE vs. 2017 Lexus RX Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The GLE’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The RX Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The GLE has standard NECK-PRO front head restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO front head restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The RX Series doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The GLE’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The RX Series doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLE and the RX Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

There are over 59 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the GLE’s warranty.

Engine

The GLE has more powerful engines than the RX Series:

 

Horsepower

Torque

GLE 350 3.5 DOHC V6

302 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

AMG GLE 43 3.0 turbo V6

385 HP

384 lbs.-ft.

GLE 550e 3.0 turbo V6 hybrid

436 HP

479 lbs.-ft.

RX 350 3.5 DOHC V6

295 HP

268 lbs.-ft.

RX 450h 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid

308 HP

n/a

As tested in Motor Trend the GLE 550e is faster than the RX 450h:

 

GLE

RX Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

13.7 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.6 MPH

94.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the GLE 550e running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the RX 450h (39 city/50 hwy MPGe vs. 31 city/28 hwy).

The GLE 550e can drive on battery power alone for up to 18.6 miles. The RX Series must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regardless of its engine, the GLE’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Lexus only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the RX Series Hybrid.

The GLE Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the RX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 17.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The GLE’s standard fuel tank has 5.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the RX Series’ standard fuel tank (24.6 vs. 19.2 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes AMG GLE 43, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the RX Series.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GLE’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the RX Series:

 

GLE

GLE 550e/AMG 43

RX Series

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

14.8 inches

12.9 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

13.3 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the RX Series (255/50R19 vs. 235/65R18). The GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the RX Series (265/45R20 vs. 235/65R18).

The GLE’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RX Series’ standard 65 series tires. The AMG GLE 43’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the RX Series’ optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLE has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the RX Series. The AMG GLE 43’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the RX Series.

Suspension and Handling

The GLE offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The RX Series doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The GLE has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The RX Series doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The GLE’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The RX Series doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLE’s wheelbase is 5 inches longer than on the RX Series (114.8 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

The GLE’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52.6% to 47.4%) than the RX Series’ (57% to 43%). This gives the GLE more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the GLE AIRMATIC has a 1.8 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the RX Series (10 vs. 8.2 inches), allowing the GLE to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The GLE is 3.4 inches shorter than the RX Series, making the GLE easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The GLE has .7 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear legroom and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the RX Series.

Cargo Capacity

The GLE has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the RX Series with its rear seat up (38.2 vs. 18.4 cubic feet). The GLE has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat folded than the RX Series with its rear seat folded (80.3 vs. 56.3 cubic feet).

Towing

The GLE’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the RX Series’ (6600 vs. 0 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Lexus RX Series is only 3500 pounds. The GLE offers up to a 7200 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the RX Series. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the RX Series, the GLE offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The GLE’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The RX Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer fluid is optional on the GLE to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The RX Series doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.

The RX Series’ optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The GLE’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the GLE has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The RX Series doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

The GLE’s optional Parking Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The RX Series doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the GLE owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the GLE with a number “3” insurance rate while the RX Series is rated higher at a number “8” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the GLE is less expensive to operate than the RX Series because typical repairs cost much less on the GLE than the RX Series, including $289 less for a water pump, $358 less for an alternator and $1485 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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