2020 Mercedes GLE vs. 2019 Volkswagen Atlas

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Atlas doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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 Atlas doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLE and the Atlas 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 free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Mercedes will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Atlas.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

Engine

The GLE 350’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 20 more horsepower (255 vs. 235) and 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. The GLE 350’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6. The GLE 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 86 more horsepower (362 vs. 276) and 103 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the GLE 450 is faster than the Volkswagen Atlas V6:

GLE

Atlas

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.3 sec

7.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

20.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

8.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.9 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

5.2 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

16 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

89 MPH

Top Speed

129 MPH

116 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

Atlas

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/24 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

17 city/23 hwy

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

The GLE has 3.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (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 an eight-speed automatic is available for the Atlas.

Brakes and Stopping

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

GLE 450

Atlas

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

13.2 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

12.2 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the Atlas (255/50R19 vs. 245/60R18). The GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Atlas (F:275/45R21 & R:315/40R21 vs. 265/45R21).

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 Atlas’ standard 60 series tires. The GLE’s optional 315/40R21 rear tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Atlas SEL Premium’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLE has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Atlas.

Suspension and Handling

The GLE has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The GLE has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the GLE flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

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

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 Atlas’ 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 Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

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

Chassis

The GLE is 4 inches shorter than the Atlas, making the GLE easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Mercedes GLE amounts to more than styling. The GLE has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Atlas (.34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the GLE get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the GLE 450 is quieter than the Atlas SEL Premium 4Motion:

GLE

Atlas

At idle

38 dB

41 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

68 dB

Towing

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

Servicing Ease

The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Atlas. 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 Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 39% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium, 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 Atlas doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 Atlas can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

The Atlas’ optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The GLE’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

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 Atlas offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 is only available on the Atlas SE/SEL/SEL Premium.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes GLE offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Atlas doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

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

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