2019 Volvo XC90 vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

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 GLS doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and GLS 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 GLS’ 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 GLS. 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 GLS’ airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The GLS doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 GLS 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 GLS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the XC90 and the GLS 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, 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 and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 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

The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLS’ (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 GLS.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the XC90 T8 is faster than the GLS 450:

 

XC90

GLS

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

5.7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.6 sec

14.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

5.8 sec

6.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14 sec

14.2 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the GLS 450 (59 city/56 hwy MPGe vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 T8 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the GLS 450 (24 city/27 hwy vs. 16 city/22 hwy).

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

 

 

 

MPG

XC90

 

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/29 hwy

 

AWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

 

 

T6 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4 cyl.

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

The XC90 T8 can drive on battery power alone for up to 17 miles. The GLS must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Regenerative brakes improve the XC90 T8’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The GLS doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

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 GLS doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The XC90 stops much shorter than the GLS:

 

XC90

GLS

 

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

146 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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 GLS 550/63’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .84 G’s, while the GLS 450 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The XC90 T6 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the GLS 450 (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the XC90’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the GLS’ (38.7 feet vs. 40.7 feet). The XC90’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter with 22-inch wheels than the GLS’ (39.7 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the XC90 has a 1.6 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLS 63 (9.4 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the XC90 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 600 to 700 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The XC90 is 7.1 inches shorter than the GLS, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

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 GLS (.37 to .38) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the XC90 get better fuel mileage.

Cargo Capacity

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 GLS 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’s standard Easy Ingress and Egress Seat glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the GLS.

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 GLS 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 GLS only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

A manual rear sunshade is optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The GLS doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The XC90 Inscription/Excellence has standard front air conditioned seats and the XC90 Excellence also has them in the second row. This keeps the passengers comfortable and takes the sting out of hot seats in summer. The GLS doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.

The XC90 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 XC90 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 XC90 is less expensive to operate than the GLS because it costs $18 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the GLS, including $214 less for a muffler, $63 less for front brake pads, $71 less for a starter, $149 less for fuel injection, $160 less for front struts and $137 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The GLS was Sport Utility of the Year in 2013.

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

The Volvo XC90 outsold the Mercedes GLS by 44% during 2018.

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

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