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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 Toyota Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
Both the GLE and the Highlander Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.
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, with its optional vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the GLE its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Highlander Hybrid is only a standard “Top Pick” for 2020.
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 Highlander Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
The GLE 350’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 12 more horsepower (255 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The GLE 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6-cylinder hybrid produces 119 more horsepower (362 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid. The GLE 580’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 240 more horsepower (483 vs. 243) than the Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid.
The GLE has 5.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the Highlander Hybrid (22.5 vs. 17.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the GLE 450’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Highlander Hybrid:
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 Highlander Hybrid are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the GLE has larger standard tires than the Highlander Hybrid (255/50R19 vs. 235/65R18). The GLE’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander Hybrid (F:275/45R21 & R:315/40R21 vs. 235/65R18).
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 Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE’s standard 65 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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLE has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE. The GLE 580’s optional 22-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels on the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum.
The GLE 450 offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Toyota doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Highlander Hybrid.
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 Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
The GLE has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLE’s wheelbase is 5.7 inches longer than on the Highlander Hybrid (117.9 inches vs. 112.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the GLE is .8 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander Hybrid.
For greater off-road capability the GLE Airmatic has a 1.2 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Highlander Hybrid (9.2 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GLE to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.
The GLE has .3 inches more front shoulder room and .2 inches more rear headroom than the Highlander Hybrid.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the GLE’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The GLE’s towing capacity is much higher than the Highlander Hybrid’s (7700 vs. 3500 pounds).
The GLE uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Highlander Hybrid 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.
The engine in the GLE is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Highlander Hybrid. 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 Toyota. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 30% lower rating, Toyota is ranked 14th.
The GLE has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum, 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’s 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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The GLE’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Highlander Hybrid does not have an oil pressure gauge.
The GLE 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 Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
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 Highlander Hybrid’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
The GLE’s standard rear and side view mirrors have an automatic dimming feature. These mirrors can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Highlander Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The GLE offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Highlander Hybrid.
The GLE’s Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Highlander Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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