2019 Mercedes GLS vs. 2020 Kia Telluride

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLS 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 Kia Telluride doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

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

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

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the GLS’ standard Downhill Speed Regulation allows you to creep down safely. The Telluride doesn’t offer Downhill Speed Regulation.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the GLS helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The Telluride doesn’t offer a night vision system.

Both the GLS and the Telluride have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, 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 Mercedes GLS weighs 895 to 1642 pounds more than the Kia Telluride. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.


The GLS’ 5 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Telluride runs out after 100,000 miles.


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 GLS’ reliability 14 points higher than the Telluride.


The GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 71 more horsepower (362 vs. 291) and 107 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 262) than the Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6. The GLS 550’s standard 4.7 turbo V8 produces 158 more horsepower (449 vs. 291) and 254 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 262) than the Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6. The AMG GLS 63’s standard 5.5 turbo V8 produces 286 more horsepower (577 vs. 291) and 299 lbs.-ft. more torque (561 vs. 262) than the Telluride’s 3.8 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the GLS 450 3.0 turbo V6 is faster than the Kia Telluride:



Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.6 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

7.1 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.4 sec

11.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.7 sec

17.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.3 sec

7.1 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3 sec

3.7 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.9 sec

4.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

94 MPH

Top Speed

133 MPH

132 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GLS’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Telluride doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The GLS has 7.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Telluride (26.4 vs. 18.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.


A nine-speed automatic is available on the Mercedes GLS, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Telluride.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GLS’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Telluride:

GLS 450



Front Rotors

13.8 inches

15.4 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

14.2 inches

12 inches

The GLS’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Telluride are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLS has larger standard tires than the Telluride (275/55R19 vs. 245/60R18). The GLS 550/63’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Telluride (295/40R21 vs. 245/60R18).

The GLS’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Telluride LX/EX’s standard 60 series tires. The GLS 550/63’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Telluride S/SX’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLS has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Telluride LX/EX. The AMG GLS 63’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels on the Telluride S/SX.

Suspension and Handling

The GLS 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 Telluride doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

The front and rear suspension of the GLS uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Telluride, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The GLS 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 Telluride’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The GLS’ 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 Telluride doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than on the Telluride (121.1 inches vs. 114.2 inches).

The GLS’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (49.7% to 50.3%) than the Telluride’s (55.7% to 44.3%). This gives the GLS more stable handling and braking.

The AMG GLS 63 handles at .84 G’s, while the Telluride SX 4x4 pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the GLS has a 4.5 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Telluride (12.5 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GLS to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.


As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the GLS 450 is quieter than the Telluride SX 4x4:




71 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

67 dB

Passenger Space

The GLS has .3 inches more front headroom, .8 inches more third row headroom and 3.6 inches more third row legroom than the Telluride.

Cargo Capacity

The GLS’ cargo area provides more volume than the Telluride.



Third Seat Folded

49.4 cubic feet

46 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

93.8 cubic feet

87 cubic feet

The GLS’ cargo area is larger than the Telluride’s in almost every dimension:



Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)



Both the GLS and the Telluride offer second row automatic folding seats. The GLS’ third row seats also fold up or down at the press of a button. The Telluride doesn’t offer automatic folding third row seats.


The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the Telluride’s (7500 vs. 5000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLS is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Telluride. 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 Kia. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Kia is ranked 20th.


Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Telluride SX, the GLS 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.

If the windows are left open on the GLS 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 Telluride can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The GLS’ 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 Telluride’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The GLS offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Telluride doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the GLS offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Telluride doesn’t offer cornering lights. The GLS also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The GLS 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 Telluride offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The GLS’ optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Telluride doesn’t offer an automated parking system.


The GLS was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 3 years. The Telluride has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

Motor Trend selected the GLS as their 2013 Sport Utility of the Year. The Telluride has never been chosen.

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

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