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For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Cadillac Escalade are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Mercedes GLS doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.
Both the Escalade and GLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Escalade has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GLS’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Escalade are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The GLS doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.
The Escalade has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The GLS doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Escalade Premium Luxury/Platinum has standard Reverse Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GLS doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
To help make backing safer, the Escalade’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Both the Escalade and the GLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.
Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the Escalade 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLS. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the GLS ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.
The Escalade’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the GLS’ (6 vs. 5 years).
Cadillac pays for the first scheduled maintenance on the Escalade. Cadillac will pay for an oil change, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLS.
There are over 2 times as many Cadillac dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Escalade’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Cadillac vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac 12th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.
The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 58 more horsepower (420 vs. 362) and 91 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 369) than the GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo V6.
An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Escalade’s fuel efficiency. The GLS doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Cadillac Escalade uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The GLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Escalade has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GLS doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.
A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Cadillac Escalade, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLS.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Escalade has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 19-inch wheels are standard on the GLS.
The Cadillac Escalade’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Mercedes GLS only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.
The Escalade has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The GLS doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 3.4 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLS.
The Escalade 4x4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GLS 450 (27.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .62 average G’s).
For better maneuverability, the Escalade’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the GLS’ (39 feet vs. 40.7 feet).
For greater off-road capability the Escalade has a greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLS 63 (8 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Escalade to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The front grille of the Escalade uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The GLS doesn’t offer active grille shutters.
The Escalade uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The GLS doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.
The Escalade offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the GLS can only carry 7.
The Escalade has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 5 inches more front legroom, 6.4 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear legroom, 6.1 inches more rear shoulder room and 12.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.
The Escalade’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLS.
Third Seat Folded
51.6 cubic feet
49.4 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
94.2 cubic feet
93.8 cubic feet
The Escalade’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The GLS’ rear cargo window doesn’t open.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Escalade’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The GLS doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the GLS’ (8100 vs. 7500 pounds).
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Cadillac service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 3% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.
The Escalade’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the GLS.
The Escalade’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge – which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The GLS does not have an oil pressure gauge.
The Escalade offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GLS doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Escalade has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLS only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.
The Escalade has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the vehicle heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the GLS.
The Escalade has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning costs extra on the GLS.
The Escalade is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLS doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
Insurance will cost less for the Escalade owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Escalade will cost $1240 to $7185 less than the GLS over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the GLS because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the GLS, including $433 less for a water pump, $101 less for front brake pads, $370 less for a starter and $203 less for fuel injection.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Cadillac Escalade will be $2866 to $32686 less than for the Mercedes GLS.
Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its July 2015 issue and the Cadillac Escalade 4x4 won out over the Mercedes GLS 450.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GLS was rated third.
The Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV outsold the Mercedes GLS by 68% during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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