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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLE have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Toyota Highlander doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
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 Highlander doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLE. But it costs extra on the Highlander.
Both the GLE and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.
The GLE comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Highlander’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 17th, below the industry average.
The GLE 400’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 144 more horsepower (329 vs. 185) and 170 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 184) than the Highlander’s standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. The GLE 400’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 34 more horsepower (329 vs. 295) and 91 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6. The AMG GLE 43’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 90 more horsepower (385 vs. 295) and 121 lbs.-ft. more torque (384 vs. 263) than the Highlander’s optional 3.5 DOHC V6.
Regenerative brakes improve the GLE Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Highlander doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
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.) Toyota only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum.
The GLE has 5.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander (24.6 vs. 19.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes GLE, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Highlander.
For better stopping power the GLE’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander:
AMG GLE 43
The GLE’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.
The GLE stops much shorter than the Highlander:
70 to 0 MPH
Car and Driver
60 to 0 MPH
For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the Highlander (255/50R19 vs. 245/60R18). The GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (265/45R20 vs. 245/60R18).
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 Highlander’s standard 60 series tires. The AMG GLE 43’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum’s 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 Highlander. The AMG GLE 43’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum.
The GLE has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
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 Highlander doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.
The GLE has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The GLE has a standard automatic load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The Highlander doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
The GLE has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
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 Highlander 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 Highlander (114.8 inches vs. 109.8 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the GLE is .6 inches wider in the front and 1.3 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Highlander.
For greater off-road capability the GLE AIRMATIC has a 2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander (10 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GLE to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The GLE is 3.4 inches shorter than the Highlander, making the GLE easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The GLE’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander’s (7200 vs. 1500 pounds).
The GLE uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Highlander. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 41% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 17th.
The GLE has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Highlander Limited/Platinum, 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 standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The power windows standard on both the GLE and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GLE is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.
The GLE’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Highlander’s standard rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.
If the windows are left open on the GLE the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor). On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Highlander can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
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 Highlander’s 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 Highlander doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the GLE offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Highlander doesn’t offer cornering lights. The GLE also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
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 Highlander doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.
When the GLE is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Highlander’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The GLE has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The GLE 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 Highlander.
The GLE’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the GLE is less expensive to operate than the Highlander because typical repairs cost much less on the GLE than the Highlander, including $8 less for a fuel pump and $1375 less for a timing belt/chain.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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