2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2020 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The RX Series has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The GLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The RX Series offers optional Auto Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GLA doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To help make backing safer, the RX Series’ 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 GLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the RX Series and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

The Lexus RX Series weighs 882 to 1576 pounds more than the Mercedes GLA. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RX Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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

The RX Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the GLA’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the RX Series’ reliability 27 points higher than the GLA.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium SUVs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The GLA isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 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 Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 87 more horsepower (295 vs. 208) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (268 vs. 258) than the GLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 100 more horsepower (308 vs. 208) than the GLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the RX 350 is faster than the Mercedes GLA 250:

RX Series

GLA

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.7 MPH

89.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the RX 450h gets better fuel mileage than the GLA 250 4MATIC (31 city/28 hwy vs. 23 city/31 hwy).

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

The RX Series Hybrid’s standard fuel tank has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA (17.2 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The RX Series’ standard fuel tank has 4.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA (19.2 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Lexus RX Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the GLA.

The RX 450h has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The GLA doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the RX Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the GLA:

RX Series

GLA

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

11.6 inches

The RX Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the GLA are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RX Series offers optional 20-inch wheels. The GLA’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The RX Series has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The RX Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GLA’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The RX Series offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The GLA’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the RX Series’ wheelbase is 3.5 inches longer than on the GLA (109.8 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RX Series is 3 inches wider in the front and 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the GLA.

The RX Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (57% to 43%) than the GLA’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the RX Series more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the RX Series has a 2.9 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the GLA (8.2 vs. 5.3 inches), allowing the RX Series to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Passenger Space

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The RX Series has 2.2 inches more front legroom, 3 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom, 4.1 inches more rear legroom and 4.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the RX Series’ rear seats recline. The GLA’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The RX Series has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the GLA with its rear seat up (18.4 vs. 17.2 cubic feet). The RX Series has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (56.3 vs. 43.6 cubic feet).

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the RX Series’ optional rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Towing

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The RX Series offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity. The GLA has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The RX Series uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The GLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 11% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked fifth.

Ergonomics

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The RX Series’ 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. The GLA doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The RX Series 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 GLA doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the RX Series has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLA only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The RX Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GLA doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the RX Series detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the RX Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The GLA doesn’t offer cornering lights. The RX Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RX Series has standard extendable sun visors. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the RX Series is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The GLA’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the RX Series and the GLA offer optional heated front seats. The RX Series also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the GLA.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the RX Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The GLA doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the RX Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The GLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The RX Series offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The GLA doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

Economic Advantages

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

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RX Series is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the RX Series than the GLA, including $144 less for a muffler, $103 less for front brake pads, $5 less for a starter, $251 less for fuel injection, $85 less for a fuel pump and $302 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/05/30

Consumer Reports® chose the Lexus RX Series as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLA isn't recommended.

The Lexus RX Series outsold the Mercedes GLA by over five to one during 2019.

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

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