2020 Mercedes GLS vs. 2020 Nissan Pathfinder

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/12/09

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 Nissan Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder.

The GLS’ optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

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 Pathfinder doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GLS and the Pathfinder have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 and rearview cameras.

The Mercedes GLS weighs 1042 to 1414 pounds more than the Nissan Pathfinder. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The GLS comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Pathfinder’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

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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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.

Engine

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The GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 78 more horsepower (362 vs. 284) and 110 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 259) than the Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6. The GLS 580’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 199 more horsepower (483 vs. 284) and 257 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 259) than the Pathfinder’s 3.5 DOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the GLS’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The GLS has 4.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the Pathfinder (23.8 vs. 19.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 Nissan Pathfinder (3 to 5). This means the GLS produces up to 23.4 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder:

GLS

Pathfinder

Front Rotors

14.8 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

12.13 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the GLS has larger tires than the Pathfinder (255/50R19 vs. 235/65R18).

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 Pathfinder S/SV/SL’s standard 65 series tires. The GLS’ tires are lower profile than the Pathfinder Platinum’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 Pathfinder S/SV/SL. The GLS’ optional 23-inch wheels are larger than the 20-inch wheels on the Pathfinder Platinum.

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 Pathfinder, 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. Nissan doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Pathfinder.

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 Pathfinder’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 Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 9.2 inches longer than on the Pathfinder (123.4 inches vs. 114.2 inches).

For greater off-road capability the GLS has a 3.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Pathfinder (10.1 vs. 7 inches), allowing the GLS to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GLS Off-Road Package’s minimum ground clearance is 4.3 inches higher than on the Pathfinder (11.3 vs. 7 inches).

Chassis

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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 Pathfinder (.335) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the GLS get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

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The GLS has .8 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear legroom and 3.9 inches more third row legroom than the Pathfinder.

Cargo Capacity

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

GLS

Pathfinder

Behind Third Seat

17.4 cubic feet

16.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

84.7 cubic feet

79.5 cubic feet

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the GLS’ second and third row seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Towing

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The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the Pathfinder’s (7700 vs. 6000 pounds).

Servicing Ease

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The GLS uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Pathfinder 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 GLS is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the Pathfinder. 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 Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 38% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 17th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Pathfinder SL/Platinum, 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 Pathfinder doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The GLS’ power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Pathfinder’s parking brake has to released manually.

The power windows standard on both the GLS and the Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

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 Pathfinder’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its driver’s window opens automatically. With the Pathfinder SV/SL/Platinum’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

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 Pathfinder S’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Pathfinder SV/SL/Platinum’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The GLS 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 automatic headlight on/off feature is not available on the Pathfinder S.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the GLS detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the GLS has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Pathfinder 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.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the GLS to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Pathfinder doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

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 Pathfinder 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. Nissan doesn’t offer heated seats in the third row of the Pathfinder.

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 Pathfinder 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 Pathfinder.

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 one for the rear passengers. Wireless charging costs extra on the Pathfinder.

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

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