2020 Mercedes GLS vs. 2020 Acura MDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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 Acura MDX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLS. But it costs extra on the MDX.

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 MDX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLS and the MDX 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available lane departure warning systems.

The Mercedes GLS weighs 1215 to 1669 pounds more than the Acura MDX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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There are over 41 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the GLS’ warranty.

Reliability

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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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th.

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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 37 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Engine

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The GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 72 more horsepower (362 vs. 290) and 102 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 267) than the MDX’s standard 3.5 SOHC V6. The GLS 450’s 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 41 more horsepower (362 vs. 321) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid. The GLS 580’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 162 more horsepower (483 vs. 321) and 227 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 289) than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard 3.0 SOHC V6 hybrid.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The GLS has 4.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (23.8 vs. 19.4 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The GLS has 4.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX’s standard fuel tank (23.8 vs. 19.5 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes GLS higher (6 out of 10) than the Acura MDX (3). This means the GLS produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the MDX every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the GLS’ brake rotors are larger than those on the MDX:

GLS

MDX

MDX Sport Hybrid

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

12.6 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13 inches

13 inches

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 MDX are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the GLS has larger tires than the MDX (255/50R19 vs. 245/60R18).

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 MDX’s standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLS has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the MDX. The GLS’ optional 23-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels optional on the MDX.

Suspension and Handling

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The front and rear suspension of the GLS uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the MDX, 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. Acura doesn’t offer an active suspension on the MDX.

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 MDX 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 MDX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 12.4 inches longer than on the MDX (123.4 inches vs. 111 inches).

For greater off-road capability the GLS has a 2.8 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (10.1 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the GLS to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GLS Off-Road Package’s minimum ground clearance is 4 inches higher than on the MDX (11.3 vs. 7.3 inches).

Passenger Space

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The GLS has 1.3 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 5.3 inches more rear legroom and 6.5 inches more third row legroom than the MDX.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the GLS’ middle and third row seats recline. The MDX’s third row seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The GLS’ cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.

GLS

MDX

Behind Third Seat

17.4 cubic feet

15.8 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 MDX 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 MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

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

Towing

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The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the MDX’s (7700 vs. 3500 pounds).

While the MDX SH-AWD Sport Hybrid is not recommended to tow, any GLS can tow a minimum of 7700 pounds.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the GLS is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the MDX. 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 Acura. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 4% lower rating, Acura is ranked 6th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the MDX, 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 power windows standard on both the GLS and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GLS is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The MDX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 MDX’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 avoid possible obstacles, the GLS has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The MDX doesn’t offer cornering lights. The GLS also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the GLS has standard extendable sun visors. The MDX doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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. Acura doesn’t offer heated seats in the third row of the MDX.

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 MDX 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 MDX.

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 MDX 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 MDX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

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