2020 Mercedes GLE vs. 2019 Ford Explorer

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

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLE have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Ford Explorer doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The GLE’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Explorer doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The GLE has standard Active Brake Assist, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Explorer offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

The GLE offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Explorer only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The GLE’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Explorer doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLE and the Explorer have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

Warranty

The GLE comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Explorer’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Ford is ranked 16th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Ford vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 1 place higher in reliability than Ford.

Engine

The GLE has more powerful engines than the Explorer:

Torque

GLE 450 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid

369 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.5 DOHC V6

255 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Sport/Platinum 3.5 turbo V6

350 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the GLE 450 is faster than the Explorer 3.5 turbo V6:

GLE

Explorer

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

15.8 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

6.3 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

4.4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

96 MPH

Top Speed

129 MPH

123 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

GLE

RWD

350 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

AWD

350 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

450 3.0 turbo 6-cyl. Hybrid

19 city/24 hwy

Explorer

FWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

19 city/27 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

17 city/24 hwy

AWD

2.3 turbo 4-cyl.

18 city/25 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

16 city/22 hwy

3.5 turbo V6

16 city/22 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the GLE 450’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Explorer doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GLE’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Explorer doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The GLE has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Explorer (22.5 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes GLE, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Explorer.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GLE 450’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Explorer:

GLE 450

Explorer

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

13.85 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13.5 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the Explorer (255/50R19 vs. 245/60R18). The GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Explorer (F:275/45R21 & R:315/40R21 vs. 255/50R20).

The GLE’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Explorer Base/XLT’s standard 60 series tires. The GLE’s optional 275/45R21 front and 315/40R21 rear tires have a lower 45 series front and 40 series rear profile than the Explorer’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLE has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Explorer Base/XLT. The GLE’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the Explorer.

Suspension and Handling

The GLE 450 offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Ford doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Explorer.

The GLE 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 Explorer’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The GLE has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The GLE’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Explorer doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The GLE’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Explorer doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLE’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Explorer (117.9 inches vs. 112.8 inches).

The GLE’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53.5% to 46.5%) than the Explorer’s (55.1% to 44.9%). This gives the GLE more stable handling and braking.

The GLE 450 handles at .84 G’s, while the Explorer Sport 4WD pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The GLE is 4.4 inches shorter than the Explorer, making the GLE easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the GLE 450 is quieter than the Explorer Sport 4WD:

GLE

Explorer

Full-Throttle

70 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

70 dB

Cargo Capacity

The GLE has a much larger cargo volume than the Explorer with its rear seat up (33 vs. 21 cubic feet).

Towing

The GLE’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Explorer’s (7700 vs. 2000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Explorer. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Ford. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 59% lower rating, Ford is ranked 24th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system optional at extra cost in the Explorer (except Base/XLT), the GLE offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The GLE offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Explorer doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The GLE’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch. The Explorer

If the windows are left open on the GLE the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor). On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Explorer can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The GLE’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Explorer’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GLE offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Explorer doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The GLE 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 Explorer and isn’t available on the Explorer Base.

The GLE’s standard automatic temperature control maintains the temperature you set, automatically controlling fan speed, vents and temperature to maintain a consistent, comfortable environment. The Explorer Base doesn’t offer automatic air conditioning.

The GLE’s Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Explorer (except Base/XLT/Sport)’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

© 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