2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2018 Mercedes GLE

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 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 GLE has only front height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the XC90 and GLE have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GLE’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Mercedes doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the GLE. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The GLE’s side airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply 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.

To help make backing safer, the XC90’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 GLE doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the XC90 and the GLE have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, 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 and available around view monitors.

Warranty

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLE’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLE.

Engine

The XC90 has more powerful engines than the GLE:

 

Torque

XC90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

295 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T8 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

472 lbs.-ft.

XC90 T8 Polestar 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

502 lbs.-ft.

GLE 350 3.5 DOHC V6

273 lbs.-ft.

AMG GLE 43 3.0 turbo V6

384 lbs.-ft.

GLE 550e 3.0 turbo V6 hybrid

479 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the XC90 T8 is faster than the AMG GLE 43:

 

XC90

GLE

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

5.4 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.6 sec

14.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.1 sec

Top Speed

132 MPH

130 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on a full charge gets better fuel mileage than the GLE 550e running on electricity (63 city/61 hwy vs. 38 city/50 hwy MPGe).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the GLE 550e running its gasoline engine (26 city/30 hwy vs. 20 city/23 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 gets better fuel mileage than the GLE:

 

 

XC90

GLE

 

2WD

T5/Auto

21 city/29 hwy

18 city/23 hwy

350/Auto

4WD

T5/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

18 city/22 hwy

350/Auto

 

T6/Auto

20 city/27 hwy

17 city/23 hwy

AMG 43/Auto

The XC90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GLE doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo XC90 higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Mercedes GLE (1 to 6). This means the XC90 produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the GLE every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

The XC90 stops much shorter than the GLE:

 

XC90

GLE

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC90’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GLE (275/45R20 vs. 265/45R20).

The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the AMG GLE 43’s optional 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC90’s wheelbase is 2.7 inches longer than on the GLE (117.5 inches vs. 114.8 inches).

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the AMG GLE 43 4MATIC pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 3 seconds quicker than the GLE 550e 4MATIC (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 29.8 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 1.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the GLE (9.4 vs. 8 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The XC90 w/Air Suspension’s minimum ground clearance is .5 inch higher than on the GLE AIRMATIC (10.5 vs. 10 inches).

Chassis

The design of the Volvo XC90 amounts to more than styling. The XC90 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .33 Cd. That is significantly lower than the GLE (.37) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver while under full throttle, the interior of the XC90 T6 AWD is quieter than the AMG GLE 43 4MATIC (71 vs. 76 dB).

Passenger Space

The XC90 has standard seating for 7 passengers; the GLE can only carry 5.

Cargo Capacity

The XC90’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLE.

 

XC90

GLE

Third Seat Folded

41.8 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

38.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

85.7 cubic feet

80.3 cubic feet

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC90’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, 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.

Ergonomics

The XC90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GLE doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC90 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLE only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GLE doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Optional air-conditioned the front and second row seats keep the XC90’s passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The GLE doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the XC90 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the XC90 will cost $1554 less than the GLE over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the GLE because it costs $9 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the GLE, including $287 less for a muffler, $80 less for front brake pads, $51 less for a starter, $156 less for fuel injection, $141 less for front struts and $104 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volvo XC90 will be $7885 to $11610 less than for the Mercedes GLE.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Mercedes GLE isn't recommended.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its January 2016 issue and the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD won out over the Mercedes GLE 550e 4MATIC.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The GLE was Truck of the Year in 1998.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The GLE has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The GLE has never been chosen.

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

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