2019 Volkswagen Atlas vs. 2019 Mercedes GLE

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Atlas has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The GLE doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Atlas SEL/SEL Premium has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GLE doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To help make backing safer, the Atlas’ 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 GLE doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Atlas and the GLE 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 and around view monitors.


The Atlas comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck. The GLE’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The Atlas’ corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the GLE’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 71 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Atlas’ warranty.


The Volkswagen Atlas’ engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the GLE’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Volkswagen 1 place higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Atlas uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The GLE requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Atlas’ wheelbase is 2.5 inches longer than on the GLE (117.3 inches vs. 114.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Atlas is 2.2 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLE.

The Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion handles at .84 G’s, while the AMG GLE 43 pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Atlas SEL 4Motion executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the GLE (27.9 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 29.8 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Atlas’ turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the GLE’s (38.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).


The Volkswagen Atlas may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 550 pounds less than the Mercedes GLE.

The design of the Volkswagen Atlas amounts to more than styling. The Atlas has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .34 Cd. That is lower than the GLE (.37). A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Atlas get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The Atlas has standard seating for 7 passengers; the GLE can only carry 5.

The Atlas has 50.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLE (153.7 vs. 103).

The Atlas has 2.4 inches more front headroom, 1.2 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom and 2.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLE.

The front step up height for the Atlas is 2 inches lower than the GLE (18” vs. 20”). The Atlas’ rear step up height is 2 inches lower than the GLE’s (18” vs. 20”).

Cargo Capacity

The Atlas’ cargo area provides more volume than the GLE.



Third Seat Folded

55.5 cubic feet


Third Seat Removed


38.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

96.8 cubic feet

80.3 cubic feet

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the Atlas easier. The Atlas’ cargo hatch lift-over height is 29.7 inches, while the GLE’s liftover is 30.8 inches.

The Atlas’ cargo area is larger than the GLE’s in every dimension:



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



Max Width



Min Width






To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The GLE doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Model Availability

The Atlas is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLE doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Atlas owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Atlas will cost $1080 less than the GLE over a five-year period.

The Atlas will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Atlas will retain 50.52% to 52.72% of its original price after five years, while the GLE only retains 46.84% to 49.97%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Atlas is less expensive to operate than the GLE because typical repairs cost less on the Atlas than the GLE, including $91 less for front brake pads, $59 less for fuel injection, $94 less for a fuel pump and $44 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Atlas will be $18899 to $20327 less than for the Mercedes GLE.


The Volkswagen Atlas outsold the Mercedes GLE by 30% during 2018.

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

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