2020 Volkswagen Tiguan vs. 2020 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Tiguan has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The GLA doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Tiguan (except S/SE) offers optional Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GLA doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

To help make backing safer, the Tiguan’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Compared to metal, the Tiguan’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mercedes GLA has a metal gas tank.

Both the Tiguan and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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, available all wheel drive, lane departure warning systems and around view monitors.

The Volkswagen Tiguan weighs 417 to 683 pounds more than the Mercedes GLA. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Tiguan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The Tiguan’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the GLA’s (7 vs. 5 years).

Volkswagen pays for scheduled maintenance on the Tiguan for 2 years and 20,000 miles. Volkswagen will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLA.

There are over 67 percent more Volkswagen dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Tiguan’s warranty.

Reliability

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The Volkswagen Tiguan’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the GLA’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Tiguan AWD’s standard fuel tank has 1.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA (15.9 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen Tiguan higher (7 out of 10) than the Mercedes GLA (5). This means the Tiguan produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the GLA every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Volkswagen Tiguan, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the GLA.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the Tiguan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the GLA:

Tiguan

GLA

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11.6 inches

The Tiguan stops shorter than the GLA:

Tiguan

GLA

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

135 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GLA (255/40R20 vs. 235/50R18).

The Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GLA’s optional 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line has standard 20-inch wheels. The GLA’s largest wheels are only 19-inches.

The Tiguan has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Tiguan’s wheelbase is 3.5 inches longer than on the GLA (109.8 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

The Tiguan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55.9% to 44.1%) than the GLA’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the Tiguan more stable handling and braking.

For greater off-road capability the Tiguan has a 2.6 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the GLA (7.9 vs. 5.3 inches), allowing the Tiguan to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the Tiguan SEL 4Motion® is quieter than the GLA 250 4MATIC (68 vs. 70 dB).

Passenger Space

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The Tiguan offers optional seating for 7 passengers; the GLA can only carry 5.

The Tiguan has 32.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLA (123.9 vs. 91).

The Tiguan has 2.2 inches more front shoulder room, .7 inches more rear headroom, 2.6 inches more rear legroom and 2.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Tiguan’s middle row seats recline. The GLA’s rear seats don’t recline.

The front step up height for the Tiguan is 1 inches lower than the GLA (17.4” vs. 18.4”). The Tiguan’s rear step up height is 2 inches lower than the GLA’s (17.5” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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The Tiguan’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLA.

Tiguan

GLA

Third Seat Folded

33 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

37.6 cubic feet

17.2 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

65.7 cubic feet

43.6 cubic feet

Max Cargo Volume

73.5 cubic feet

43.6 cubic feet

The Tiguan’s cargo area is larger than the GLA’s in almost every dimension:

Tiguan

GLA

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

17.2”/39.7”/74.5”

n.a./31.6”/63”

Max Width

55”

41.8”

Min Width

39.8”

41”

Height

33.5”

28.3”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Tiguan’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Towing

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The Tiguan has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The GLA has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The Tiguan uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The GLA 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.

Ergonomics

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The Tiguan’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The GLA’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Tiguan SE/SEL/SEL Premium R-Line to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The GLA doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Consumer Reports rated the Tiguan’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the GLA’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Tiguan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The GLA doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Tiguan SEL Premium R-Line also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Tiguan has a standard extendable sun visor. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the Tiguan SEL Premium 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 GLA’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the Tiguan SEL/SEL Premium R-Line’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The GLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Tiguan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Tiguan will cost $680 less than the GLA over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Tiguan is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the Tiguan than the GLA, including $211 less for a water pump, $95 less for a muffler, $160 less for front brake pads, $57 less for a starter, $147 less for fuel injection, $3 less for a fuel pump, $15 less for front struts and $645 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volkswagen Tiguan will be $8936 to $13265 less than for the Mercedes GLA.

Recommendations

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Tiguan third among compact SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GLA isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Volkswagen Tiguan outsold the Mercedes GLA by almost five to one during 2019.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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