2020 Cadillac Escalade vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Cadillac Escalade are height-adjustable, and the middle and rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Mercedes GLS doesn’t offer comfort guides on its middle seat belts.

Both the Escalade and GLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Escalade 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.

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 Escalade 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.

The Escalade has a standard front seat center airbag, which deploys between the driver and front passenger, protecting them from injuries caused by striking each other in serious side impacts. The GLS doesn’t offer front seat center airbags.

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

To help make backing safer, the Escalade’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 Escalade 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

Cadillac’s powertrain warranty covers the Escalade 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLS. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the GLS ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Escalade’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the GLS’ (6 vs. 5 years).

There are over 2 times as many Cadillac dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Escalade’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade first among large premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The GLS isn’t in the top three.

Engine

The Escalade’s 6.2 V8 produces 58 more horsepower (420 vs. 362) and 91 lbs.-ft. more torque (460 vs. 369) than the GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Escalade

AWD

6.2 DOHC V8

14 city/21 hwy

GLS

AWD

550 4.7 Turbo V8

14 city/19 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Escalade’s fuel efficiency. The GLS doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

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

The Escalade 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.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Cadillac Escalade, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLS.

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Escalade has standard 20-inch wheels. Smaller 19-inch wheels are standard on the GLS.

The Cadillac Escalade’s wheels have 6 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Mercedes GLS only has 5 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Escalade 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

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Escalade is 3.4 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLS.

The Escalade 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GLS 450 (27.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Escalade’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the GLS’ (39 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

For greater off-road capability the Escalade has a greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLS 63 (8 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Escalade to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the Escalade uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The GLS doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Escalade uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The GLS doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Escalade offers optional seating for 8 passengers; the GLS can only carry 7.

The Escalade has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 5 inches more front legroom, 6.4 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear legroom, 6.1 inches more rear shoulder room and 12.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

Cargo Capacity

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

Escalade

GLS

Third Seat Folded

51.6 cubic feet

49.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

94.2 cubic feet

93.8 cubic feet

The Escalade’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The GLS’ rear cargo window doesn’t open.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Escalade’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, 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.

Towing

The Escalade’s minimum standard towing capacity is much higher than the GLS’ (8100 vs. 7500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Cadillac service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Cadillac third in service department satisfaction. With a 10% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked fifth.

Ergonomics

The Escalade’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and 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 Escalade’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The GLS does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Escalade Luxury/Premium Luxury/Platinum has a standard 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 Escalade 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 Escalade has a standard heated steering wheel to take the chill out of steering on extremely cold winter days before the vehicle heater warms up. A heated steering wheel costs extra on the GLS.

The Escalade 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Cadillac Escalade has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The GLS doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The Escalade is available in both rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLS doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Escalade owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Escalade with a number “5” insurance rate while the GLS is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Escalade is less expensive to operate than the GLS because typical repairs cost much less on the Escalade than the GLS, including $414 less for a water pump, $91 less for front brake pads, $394 less for a starter and $212 less for fuel injection.

Recommendations

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its July 2015 issue and the Cadillac Escalade 4WD won out over the Mercedes GLS 450.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Escalade third among large premium suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GLS isn’t in the top three.

The Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV outsold the Mercedes GLS by 68% during 2018.

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

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