2020 Mercedes GLE vs. 2019 Mazda CX-9

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 Mazda CX-9 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 CX-9 doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the GLE’s standard Downhill Speed Regulation allows you to creep down safely. The CX-9 doesn’t offer Downhill Speed Regulation.

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 CX-9 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLE and the CX-9 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, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

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 CX-9’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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The GLE 350’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 5 more horsepower (255 vs. 250) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4-cyl. The GLE 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 112 more horsepower (362 vs. 250) and 59 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 310) than the CX-9’s 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the GLE 450 is faster than the Mazda CX-9:

GLE

CX-9

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

7.2 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

21.3 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

7.7 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

4.9 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

88 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the GLE 450’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CX-9 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 CX-9 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The GLE has 3.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-9 FWD’s standard fuel tank (22.5 vs. 19 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The GLE has 3 gallons more fuel capacity than the CX-9 AWD’s standard fuel tank (22.5 vs. 19.5 gallons).

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 CX-9.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the GLE’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CX-9:

GLE 350

GLE 450

CX-9

Front Rotors

13 inches

14.8 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

12.8 inches

The GLE 450’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CX-9 are solid, not vented.

The GLE stops shorter than the CX-9:

GLE

CX-9

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CX-9 (F:275/45R21 & R:315/40R21 vs. 255/60R18).

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 CX-9 Sport/Touring’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 CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature’s 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 CX-9 Sport/Touring. The GLE’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels on the CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature.

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. Mazda doesn’t offer an active suspension on the CX-9.

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 CX-9’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 CX-9 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 CX-9 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLE’s wheelbase is 2.6 inches longer than on the CX-9 (117.9 inches vs. 115.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the GLE is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.6 inches wider in the rear than on the CX-9.

The GLE’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53.5% to 46.5%) than the CX-9’s (54.7% to 45.3%). This gives the GLE more stable handling and braking.

The GLE 450 handles at .84 G’s, while the CX-9 Signature AWD pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The GLE is 5.1 inches shorter than the CX-9, 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 CX-9 Signature AWD:

GLE

CX-9

At idle

38 dB

38 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

66 dB

Passenger Space

The GLE has 1.2 inches more front headroom, 1.4 inches more front shoulder room, 1.1 inches more rear headroom, 1.5 inches more rear legroom and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CX-9.

Cargo Capacity

The GLE has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the CX-9 with all its rear seats folded (75 vs. 71.2 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the GLE’s cargo door can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Towing

The GLE’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the CX-9’s (7700 vs. 3500 pounds).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the CX-9. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Mazda. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 59% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 25th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory seat in the CX-9 Grand Touring/Signature, 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.

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 CX-9 can only operate 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 CX-9’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The GLE has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The CX-9 only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The GLE has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The CX-9 offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The GLE offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The CX-9 doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The GLE’s Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The CX-9 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The Mercedes GLE outsold the Mazda CX-9 by 63% during 2018.

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

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