2021 Acura RDX vs. 2021 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Acura RDX are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Mercedes GLA doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the RDX and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, 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.

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 standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RDX its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 32 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the RDX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLA. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the GLA 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 51 more horsepower (272 vs. 221) and 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the GLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

The RDX has 4.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA (17.1 vs. 12.7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 GLA doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

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 an eight-speed automatic is available for the GLA.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the RDX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GLA (255/40R20 vs. 235/55R18).

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 GLA’s optional 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RDX has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the GLA.

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 GLA doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The RDX AWD has a standard space-saver spare (not available on FWD/A-Spec) 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. Some tire options on the GLA don’t have a run-flat feature, either.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RDX is 1 inch wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the GLA.

Chassis

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To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the RDX has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The GLA uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

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

Passenger Space

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The RDX has .2 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front legroom, 3.8 inches more front shoulder room, .2 inches more rear headroom, .4 inches more rear legroom and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.

Cargo Capacity

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The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the GLA with its rear seat up (31.1 vs. 15.4 cubic feet). The RDX has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (79.8 vs. 50.5 cubic feet).

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

Towing

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

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 GLA only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the RDX has standard extendable sun visors. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The RDX has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the GLA. The RDX Advance also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the GLA.

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 2020/08/06

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura RDX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

The Acura RDX outsold the Mercedes GLA by almost three to one during 2019.

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