2019 Nissan Pathfinder vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front, middle and rear seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Pathfinder are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Mercedes GLS doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

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 Pathfinder 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.

To help make backing safer, the Pathfinder SV/SL/Platinum’s 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 Pathfinder 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pathfinder the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLS has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Pathfinder 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLS. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the GLS ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pathfinder’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 7 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 Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 3 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Pathfinder gets better fuel mileage than the GLS:

 

 

 

MPG

Pathfinder

 

FWD

3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

 

AWD

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

GLS

 

AWD

450 3.0 turbo V6

16 city/22 hwy

 

 

550 4.7 turbo V8

14 city/19 hwy

 

 

AMG 63 5.5 turbo V8

13 city/18 hwy

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

Transmission

The Pathfinder has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The GLS doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Pathfinder stops much shorter than the GLS:

 

Pathfinder

GLS

 

70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

145 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

The Pathfinder 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.

Suspension and Handling

The Pathfinder Platinum 4x4 handles at .76 G’s, while the GLS 450 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the Pathfinder’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the GLS’ (38.7 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

Chassis

The Nissan Pathfinder may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1050 to 1100 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The Pathfinder is 3.5 inches shorter than the GLS, making the Pathfinder easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Nissan Pathfinder amounts to more than styling. The Pathfinder has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .335 Cd. That is significantly lower than the GLS (.37 to .38) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Pathfinder get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Pathfinder has 10.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLS (154 vs. 143.6).

The Pathfinder has 1 inch more front headroom, 2 inches more front legroom, 2.4 inches more front shoulder room, 3.2 inches more rear legroom, 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room and 6.6 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pathfinder’s middle and third row seats recline. The GLS’ third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The Pathfinder’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLS.

 

Pathfinder

GLS

Behind Third Seat

16.2 cubic feet

16 cubic feet

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just waving your foot can open the Pathfinder’s liftgate, 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.

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLS doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Pathfinder is less expensive to operate than the GLS because typical repairs cost much less on the Pathfinder than the GLS, including $300 less for a water pump, $113 less for a muffler, $112 less for front brake pads, $78 less for a starter, $146 less for fuel injection, $271 less for front struts and $582 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Nissan Pathfinder outsold the Mercedes GLS by over three to one during 2018.

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

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