2020 Honda Pilot vs. 2019 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

To help make backing safer, the Pilot EX/EX-L/Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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 Pilot 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Pilot the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLS has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

Honda’s powertrain warranty covers the Pilot 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 3 times as many Honda dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Pilot’s warranty.

Reliability

The engine in the Pilot has a single overhead cam for simplicity. The engines in the GLS have dual overhead cams, which add to the number of moving parts and the complexity of the cylinder heads.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Honda 2 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Pilot

FWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/27 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/27 hwy

AWD

9-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

6-spd

3.5 SOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

GLS

AWD

9-spd

3.0 turbo V6

16 city/22 hwy

9-spd

4.7 turbo V8

14 city/19 hwy

7-spd

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 Pilot’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 Honda Pilot uses regular unleaded gasoline. The GLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Pilot 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 Pilot stops shorter than the GLS:

Pilot

GLS

70 to 0 MPH

180 feet

186 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

119 feet

126 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The Pilot 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

The Pilot Elite 4WD handles at .80 G’s, while the GLS 450 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Pilot Elite 4WD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the GLS 450 (27.5 seconds @ .63 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Pilot’s turning circle is 1.3 feet tighter than the GLS’ (39.4 feet vs. 40.7 feet).

Chassis

The Honda Pilot may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 1300 to 1450 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The Pilot is 5.5 inches shorter than the GLS, making the Pilot easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Pilot 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 Pilot has standard seating for 8 passengers; the GLS can only carry 7.

The Pilot has 9.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLS (152.9 vs. 143.6).

The Pilot has .6 inches more front legroom, 3.5 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, 3.7 inches more rear shoulder room and 7.1 inches more third row shoulder room than the GLS.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Pilot’s middle and third row seats recline. The GLS’ third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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

Pilot

GLS

Behind Third Seat

18.5 cubic feet

16 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

55.9 cubic feet

49.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

109 cubic feet

93.8 cubic feet

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Pilot Touring/Elite/Black Edition’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

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Pilot 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Honda Pilot Elite//Black Edition has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) for the front seat. The GLS doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

The Pilot is available in both front-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 Pilot owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Pilot will cost $3720 to $9575 less than the GLS over a five-year period.

The Pilot will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Pilot will retain 47.05% to 51.4% 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 Pilot is less expensive to operate than the GLS because it costs $546 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Pilot than the GLS, including $282 less for a water pump, $151 less for a muffler, $143 less for front brake pads, $204 less for a starter, $296 less for fuel injection, $266 less for front struts and $554 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Honda Pilot will be $38699 to $74303 less than for the Mercedes GLS.

Recommendations

The Honda Pilot has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Pilot

GLS

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The Honda Pilot outsold the Mercedes GLS by over seven to one during 2018.

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

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