2020 Mercedes S-Class vs. 2020 Acura RLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes S-Class 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 RLX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The rear seatbelts optional on the S-Class inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The RLX doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the S-Class helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The RLX doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The S-Class’ 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 RLX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the S-Class and the RLX 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, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

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 S-Class’ 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.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 7 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

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The S-Class has more powerful engines than the RLX:

Horsepower

Torque

S 450 3.0 turbo V6

362 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

S 560 4.0 turbo V8

463 HP

516 lbs.-ft.

Maybach S 650 6.0 turbo V12

621 HP

738 lbs.-ft.

RLX 3.5 SOHC V6

310 HP

272 lbs.-ft.

RLX Sport Hybrid 3.5 SOHC V6

377 HP

341 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regardless of its engine, the S-Class’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Acura only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the RLX Sport Hybrid.

The S-Class V6/V8’s standard fuel tank has 6 gallons more fuel capacity than the RLX Sport Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 15.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The S-Class V12’s standard fuel tank has 6.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the RLX’s standard fuel tank (24.6 vs. 18.5 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the S-Class’ brake rotors are larger than those on the RLX:

S 450/560

S 650

RLX

RLX Sport Hybrid

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

15.4 inches

12.3 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

14.2 inches

14.2 inches

12.2 inches

12.2 inches

The S-Class’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the RLX are solid, not vented.

The S-Class stops shorter than the RLX:

S-Class

RLX

60 to 0 MPH

114 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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The S-Class’ optional 275/35R20 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RLX’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S-Class offers optional 20-inch wheels. The RLX’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the S-Class can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The RLX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The front and rear suspension of the S-Class uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the RLX, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The S-Class 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 RLX.

The S-Class 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. The RLX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The S-Class has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The RLX doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The S-Class’ 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 RLX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 12.4 inches longer than on the RLX (124.6 inches vs. 112.2 inches). The Maybach S-Class’ wheelbase is 20.3 inches longer than on the RLX (132.5 inches vs. 112.2 inches).

The S 600 handles at .90 G’s, while the RLX pulls only .80 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S 600 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.5 seconds quicker than the RLX (25.8 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 27.3 seconds @ .64 average G’s).

Passenger Space

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the S-Class a Large car, while the RLX is rated a Mid-size.

The S-Class has 9.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the RLX (112 vs. 102.1).

The S-Class has 2.1 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom and 2.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the RLX.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the S-Class’ available rear seats recline. The RLX’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

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The S-Class has a much larger trunk than the RLX (18.7 vs. 14.9 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the S-Class’ power trunk can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The RLX doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

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The engine in the S-Class is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the RLX. 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 RLX, the S-Class has standard driver and 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 power windows standard on both the S-Class and the RLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the S-Class is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The RLX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the S-Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The RLX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the S-Class has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The RLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

Optional air conditioned front and rear seats keep the S-Class’ passengers comfortable and take the sting out of hot leather in summer. The RLX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats in the rear.

The S-Class offers optional massaging front and rear seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the RLX.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes S-Class has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console and for the rear passengers. The RLX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The S-Class has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The RLX doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

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

Model Availability

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The Mercedes S-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Acura RLX isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

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The S-Class will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the S-Class will retain 37.53% to 39.12% of its original price after five years, while the RLX only retains 32.48% to 33.89%.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/09/29

The Mercedes S-Class outsold the Acura RLX by over 10 to one during the 2019 model year.

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