2019 Mercedes GLE vs. 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

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 Atlas 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 Atlas doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLE. But it costs extra on the Atlas.

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 Atlas doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLE and the Atlas have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the GLE the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Atlas was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The GLE comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Mercedes will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Atlas.

Reliability

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 GLE’s reliability 21 points higher than the Atlas.

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 15th in reliability. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 2 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The GLE 400’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 94 more horsepower (329 vs. 235) and 96 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The GLE 400’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 53 more horsepower (329 vs. 276) and 88 lbs.-ft. more torque (354 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6. The AMG GLE 43’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 109 more horsepower (385 vs. 276) and 118 lbs.-ft. more torque (384 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the AMG GLE 43 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

 

GLE

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.5 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.4 sec

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.4 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.1 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

89 MPH

Top Speed

130 MPH

116 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the GLE Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Atlas doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The GLE has 6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (24.6 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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 Atlas.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

GLE

AMG GLE 43

Atlas

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

14.8 inches

13.2 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

12.2 inches

The GLE stops much shorter than the Atlas:

 

GLE

Atlas

 

70 to 0 MPH

172 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

126 feet

139 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the Atlas (255/50R19 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 Atlas’ standard 60 series tires. The AMG GLE 43’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Atlas SEL Premium’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLE has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Atlas.

Suspension and Handling

The GLE has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The GLE has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the GLE flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

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 Atlas 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 Atlas’ 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 Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The GLE’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (52.6% to 47.4%) than the Atlas’ (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the GLE more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the GLE AIRMATIC has a 2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Atlas (10 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GLE to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The GLE is 9.2 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the GLE easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the AMG GLE 43 is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion:

 

GLE

Atlas

At idle

38 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

76 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

68 dB

Towing

The GLE’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (7200 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Atlas. 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 Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 40% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium, 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 Atlas doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

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 Atlas can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 Atlas doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. Its standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The GLE’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Atlas’ headlights are rated “Marginal” to “Poor.”

The Atlas’ 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 Atlas doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

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 Atlas 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 is only available on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the GLE is less expensive to operate than the Atlas because it costs $27 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the GLE than the Atlas, including $163 less for a water pump, $50 less for a muffler, $49 less for a starter, $15 less for front struts and $1013 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Mercedes GLE outsold the Volkswagen Atlas by over two to one during 2017.

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

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