2020 Chevrolet Suburban vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front shoulder belts of the Chevrolet Suburban 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 Suburban and GLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Suburban 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 Suburban 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 Suburban 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.

To help make backing safer, the Suburban (except LS)’s optional 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 Suburban 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, blind spot warning systems and front parking sensors.

Warranty

Chevrolet’s powertrain warranty covers the Suburban 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.

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

There are almost 8 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Suburban’s warranty.

Reliability

The Suburban has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The GLS doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Suburban

RWD

5.3 OHV V8

15 city/22 hwy

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/23 hwy

AWD

5.3 OHV V8

14 city/21 hwy

6.2 OHV V8

14 city/20 hwy

GLS

AWD

4.7 turbo V8

14 city/19 hwy

5.5 turbo V8

13 city/18 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Suburban’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 Chevrolet Suburban uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended with the 6.2 V8 engine for maximum performance). The GLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Suburban has 4.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLS (31 vs. 26.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Suburban EcoTec3 6.2 V8, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLS.

Tires and Wheels

The Chevrolet Suburban’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 Suburban 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 a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Suburban’s wheelbase is 8.9 inches longer than on the GLS (130 inches vs. 121.1 inches).

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

For greater off-road capability the Suburban has a greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLS 63 (7.9 vs. 7.8 inches), allowing the Suburban to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

The front grille of the Suburban 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.

Passenger Space

The Suburban offers optional seating for 9 passengers; the GLS can only carry 7.

The Suburban has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 5 inches more front legroom, 6.3 inches more front shoulder room, 1.2 inches more rear legroom, 6.8 inches more rear shoulder room and 12.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

Cargo Capacity

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

Suburban

GLS

Behind Third Seat

39.3 cubic feet

16 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

76.7 cubic feet

49.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

121.1 cubic feet

93.8 cubic feet

The Suburban’s cargo area is larger than the GLS’ in every dimension:

Suburban

GLS

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

31.6”/63.6”/100.3”

19.7”/52.4”/84.1”

Min Width

49.3”

n/a

Height

34.9”

n/a

The Suburban’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 Suburban’s available 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.

Payload and Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Mercedes GLS is limited to 7500 pounds. The Suburban offers up to an 8300 lbs. towing capacity.

The Suburban has a higher standard payload capacity than the GLS (1670 vs. 1587 lbs.).

Ergonomics

The Suburban’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 Suburban Premier 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 Suburban 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 Suburban 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 Chevrolet Suburban Premier has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The GLS doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The Suburban 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 Suburban owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Suburban will cost $3550 to $8885 less than the GLS over a five-year period.

The Suburban will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Suburban will retain 52.55% to 53.03% of its original price after five years, while the GLS only retains 43.11% to 44.05%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Suburban is less expensive to operate than the GLS because typical repairs cost much less on the Suburban than the GLS, including $448 less for a water pump, $90 less for a muffler, $91 less for front brake pads, $385 less for a starter, $206 less for fuel injection, $273 less for front struts and $774 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Suburban will be $24838 to $61997 less than for the Mercedes GLS.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Chevrolet Suburban, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLS isn't recommended.

The Chevrolet Suburban outsold the Mercedes GLS by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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