2019 Hyundai Santa Fe XL vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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To help make backing safer, the Santa Fe XL’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 Santa Fe XL and the GLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Santa Fe XL the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 62 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLS has not been tested, yet.


The Santa Fe XL comes with a full 5-year/60,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The GLS’ 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 10,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Santa Fe XL 6 years and 50,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLS. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the GLS ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Santa Fe XL’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GLS’ (7 vs. 5 years).

There are over 2 times as many Hyundai dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Santa Fe XL’s warranty.


A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Santa Fe XL’s reliability 11 points higher than the GLS.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Santa Fe XL second among midsize suvs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The GLS isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai third in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 6th in reliability, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 7 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Santa Fe XL AWD gets better fuel mileage than the GLS 450 V6 (18 city/24 hwy vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Hyundai Santa Fe XL uses regular unleaded gasoline. The GLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The Santa Fe XL stops much shorter than the GLS:


Santa Fe XL



60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

140 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

The Santa Fe XL AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GLS 450 (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Santa Fe XL’s turning circle is 3.8 feet tighter than the GLS’ (36.9 feet vs. 40.7 feet).


The Hyundai Santa Fe XL may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1300 to 1600 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The Santa Fe XL is 8.9 inches shorter than the GLS, making the Santa Fe XL easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Hyundai Santa Fe XL amounts to more than styling. The Santa Fe XL has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .34 Cd. That is lower than the GLS (.37 to .38). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Santa Fe XL get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Santa Fe XL has 3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLS (146.6 vs. 143.6).

The Santa Fe XL has 1 inch more front legroom, .9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear legroom and 3.4 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Santa Fe XL’s liftgate can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind 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.


To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Santa Fe XL 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 Santa Fe XL 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.

Model Availability

The Santa Fe XL is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLS doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Santa Fe XL owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Santa Fe XL will cost $3720 to $9360 less than the GLS over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Santa Fe XL is less expensive to operate than the GLS because it costs $90 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Santa Fe XL than the GLS, including $484 less for a water pump, $217 less for a muffler, $128 less for front brake pads, $383 less for a starter, $310 less for fuel injection, $260 less for front struts and $297 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Hyundai Santa Fe XL will be $36692 to $76271 less than for the Mercedes GLS.


Consumer Reports® recommends the Hyundai Santa Fe XL, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLS isn't recommended.

The Hyundai Santa Fe outsold the Mercedes GLS by over five to one during 2018.

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

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