2021 Acura RDX vs. 2020 Mercedes GLE

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Both the RDX and the GLE have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the RDX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLE. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the GLE ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 23rd in initial quality. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 30th.

Engine

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The RDX’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 17 more horsepower (272 vs. 255) and 7 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 273) than the GLE 350’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura RDX is faster than the GLE 350 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder:

RDX

GLE

Zero to 60 MPH

6.4 sec

7.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.8 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94.7 MPH

87.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the RDX gets better fuel mileage than the GLE:

MPG

RDX

FWD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/28 hwy

A-Spec 2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/27 hwy

AWD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

A-Spec 2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/26 hwy

GLE

FWD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/27 hwy

AWD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

19 city/26 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Acura RDX uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The GLE requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The RDX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GLE doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Acura RDX higher (6 out of 10) than the Mercedes GLE (5 to 6). This means the RDX produces up to 6.9 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the GLE every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Acura RDX, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLE.

Brakes and Stopping

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The RDX stops much shorter than the GLE:

RDX

GLE

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

130 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

129 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The RDX A-Spec’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GLE’s optional 45 series front tires.

The RDX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The GLE doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

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The RDX AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the GLE 350 4MATIC pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The RDX AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the GLE 350 4MATIC (27.2 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.2 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the RDX has a greater minimum ground clearance than the GLE (8.2 vs. 7.9 inches), allowing the RDX to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged.

Chassis

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The Acura RDX may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 900 pounds less than the Mercedes GLE.

The RDX is 7.5 inches shorter than the GLE, making the RDX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The RDX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The GLE doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The RDX has 1.3 inches more front legroom and .4 inches more front shoulder room than the GLE.

Cargo Capacity

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The RDX has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLE with its rear seat folded (79.8 vs. 75 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

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To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the RDX has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLE only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

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

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the RDX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the RDX will cost $3545 to $6910 less than the GLE over a five-year period.

The RDX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the RDX will retain 51.11% to 51.6% of its original price after five years, while the GLE only retains 45.98% to 47.54%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the RDX is less expensive to operate than the GLE because it costs $146 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the RDX than the GLE, including $461 less for a water pump, $361 less for a muffler, $142 less for a starter, $326 less for fuel injection, $26 less for a fuel pump, $199 less for front struts and $39 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Acura RDX will be $19413 to $38740 less than for the Mercedes GLE.

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 2020/08/08

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura RDX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Mercedes GLE isn't recommended.

The Acura RDX outsold the Mercedes GLE by 26% during 2019.

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