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For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GLS 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 Hyundai Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.
The GLS’ pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLS. But it costs extra on the Santa Fe XL.
The GLS’ 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the GLS and the Santa Fe XL 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.
The Mercedes GLS weighs 1523 to 1684 pounds more than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
The GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 72 more horsepower (362 vs. 290) and 117 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6. The GLS 580’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 193 more horsepower (483 vs. 290) and 264 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 252) than the Santa Fe XL’s 3.3 DOHC V6.
Regenerative brakes improve the GLS’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GLS’ 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The GLS has 5 gallons more fuel capacity than the Santa Fe XL (23.8 vs. 18.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes GLS higher (6 out of 10) than the Hyundai Santa Fe XL (3). This means the GLS produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Santa Fe XL every 15,000 miles.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes GLS, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Santa Fe XL.
For better stopping power the GLS’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Santa Fe XL:
Santa Fe XL
The GLS’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Santa Fe XL are solid, not vented.
For better traction, the GLS has larger tires than the Santa Fe XL (255/50R19 vs. 235/60R18).
The GLS’ tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Santa Fe XL SE’s standard 60 series tires. The GLS’ tires are lower profile than the Santa Fe XL Ultimate’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLS has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the Santa Fe XL SE. The GLS’ optional 23-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the Santa Fe XL Ultimate.
The front and rear suspension of the GLS uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Santa Fe XL, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.
The GLS offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Hyundai doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Santa Fe XL.
The GLS has a standard 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 Santa Fe XL’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The GLS has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The GLS’ 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
The GLS’ 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 13.2 inches longer than on the Santa Fe XL (123.4 inches vs. 110.2 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the GLS is 1.6 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the Santa Fe XL.
The design of the Mercedes GLS amounts to more than styling. The GLS has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .32 Cd. That is lower than the Santa Fe XL (.34) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the GLS get better fuel mileage.
The GLS has .8 inches more rear headroom, 1.5 inches more rear legroom, .2 inches more rear shoulder room and 3.7 inches more third row legroom than the Santa Fe XL.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the GLS’ middle and third row seats recline. The Santa Fe XL’s third row seats don’t recline.
The GLS’ cargo area provides more volume than the Santa Fe XL.
Santa Fe XL
Behind Third Seat
17.4 cubic feet
13.5 cubic feet
Third Seat Folded
42.7 cubic feet
40.9 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
84.7 cubic feet
80 cubic feet
The GLS has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer seats that fold into the floor.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the GLS’ second and third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the Santa Fe XL’s (7700 vs. 5000 pounds).
The engine in the GLS is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Santa Fe XL. 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 Hyundai. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 52% lower rating, Hyundai is ranked 22nd.
The GLS 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a remote starting system.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Santa Fe XL Ultimate, the GLS has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position, suspension setting, power steering assist, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The GLS 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 Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The GLS’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Santa Fe XL’s parking brake has to released manually.
The GLS’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Santa Fe XL’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.
If the windows are left open on the GLS the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Santa Fe XL can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The GLS’ 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 Santa Fe XL’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
When the GLS is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Santa Fe XL’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
The GLS 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 Santa Fe XL offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The GLS has standard heated front and optional heated second and third row seats, which keep the driver and passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Hyundai doesn’t offer heated seats in the third row of the Santa Fe XL.
Optional air conditioned the front and second row seats keep the GLS’ passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats for the second row.
The GLS offers optional massaging front and second row seats, which keep the driver and middle row passengers. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Santa Fe XL.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes GLS has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console and for the rear passengers. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The GLS’ Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Santa Fe XL doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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