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The GLS’ 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.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GLS. But it costs extra on the Atlas.
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 Atlas doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the GLS and the Atlas 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, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning and available lane departure warning systems.
The Mercedes GLS weighs 973 to 1479 pounds more than the Volkswagen Atlas. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
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.
The GLS 450’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. hybrid produces 127 more horsepower (362 vs. 235) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the Atlas’ standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The GLS 450’s 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. 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. The GLS 580’s standard 4.0 turbo V8 hybrid produces 207 more horsepower (483 vs. 276) and 250 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 266) than the Atlas’ optional 3.6 DOHC V6.
On the EPA test cycle the GLS 450 gets better fuel mileage than the Atlas V6 4Motion (19 city/23 hwy vs. 18 city/23 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the GLS’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Atlas doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
The GLS has 5.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Atlas (23.8 vs. 18.6 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes GLS, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Atlas.
For better stopping power the GLS’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Atlas:
For better traction, the GLS has larger tires than the Atlas (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 Atlas’ 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 Atlas. The GLS’ optional 23-inch wheels are larger than the 21-inch wheels optional on the Atlas SEL Premium.
The GLS has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the GLS flat and controlled during cornering. The Atlas’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
The front and rear suspension of the GLS uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Atlas, 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. Volkswagen doesn’t offer an active suspension on the Atlas.
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 Atlas’ 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 Atlas doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLS’ wheelbase is 6.1 inches longer than on the Atlas (123.4 inches vs. 117.3 inches).
For greater off-road capability the GLS has a 2.1 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Atlas (10.1 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GLS to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GLS Off-Road Package’s minimum ground clearance is 3.3 inches higher than on the Atlas (11.3 vs. 8 inches).
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 Atlas (.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 4.3 inches more rear legroom and .9 inches more third row legroom than the Atlas.
For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the GLS’ middle and third row seats recline. The Atlas’ third row seats don’t recline.
The GLS has a standard third row seat which folds flat into the floor. This completely clears a very large cargo area quickly. The Atlas 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 Atlas doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The GLS’ standard towing capacity is much higher than the Atlas’ (7700 vs. 2000 pounds).
The engine in the GLS 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.
Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Atlas SEL/SEL Premium, 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’ 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 Atlas doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
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 Atlas doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
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 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 GLS’ standard 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 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 Atlas 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. Volkswagen doesn’t offer heated seats in the third row of the Atlas.
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 Atlas 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 Atlas.
The GLS 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 GLS has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console and for the rear passengers. The Atlas 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 Atlas SEL Premium’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.
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