2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash

Safety

Both the Explorer and GLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer 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 Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist 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 Explorer’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 Explorer and the GLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front 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, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 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.

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

Reliability

The Explorer 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 Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Explorer

RWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/28 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 hwy

ST 3.0 turbo V6

18 city/24 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

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

The Explorer 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 Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLS.

Tires and Wheels

Having a flat tire is dangerous, inconvenient and expensive. The self-sealing tires available on the Explorer can automatically seal most punctures up to 3/16 of an inch, effectively preventing most flat tires. The GLS doesn’t offer self-sealing tires.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 1.6 inches wider in the front and .8 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLS.

For better maneuverability, the Explorer’s turning circle is 1.5 feet tighter than the GLS’ (39.2 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

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

Chassis

The Ford Explorer may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 800 to 1000 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The Explorer is 3.2 inches shorter than the GLS, making the Explorer easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the Explorer (except 3.3 V6 non-Hybrid) 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 Explorer Hybrid 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 Explorer has 9.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLS (152.7 vs. 143.6).

The Explorer has 2.7 inches more front legroom, 3.3 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, .5 inches more rear legroom, 3.6 inches more rear shoulder room and 4.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

Cargo Capacity

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

Explorer

GLS

Behind Third Seat

18.2 cubic feet

16 cubic feet

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum’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.

Ergonomics

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The GLS doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer 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 Explorer 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 Ford Explorer Limited/ST/Platinum has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The GLS doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

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

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Mercedes GLS by almost 12 to one during 2018.

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

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos