2021 Volvo XC90 vs. 2020 Mercedes GLS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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 2020/10/23

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC90 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 GLS doesn’t offer height-adjustable middle seat belts.

Both the XC90 and GLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GLS’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo XC90 offers an optional built in child booster seat. It’s more crash worthy than an added child seat because of its direct attachment to the seat. Mercedes doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the GLS. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; XC90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the XC90 deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The XC90’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The GLS’ airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.

The XC90 has a standard Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WHIPS allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. At the same time the pretensioning seatbelts fire, removing slack from the belts. The GLS doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The XC90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The GLS 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.

Both the XC90 and the GLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear 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, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, driver alert monitors and available around view monitors.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, its standard front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the XC90 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 132 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLS has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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The XC90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLS’ (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLS.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the XC90 Recharge running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the GLS:

MPGe

XC90

AWD

Electric Motor

58 city/53 hwy

GLS

MPG

AWD

3.0 turbo 6-cyl. Hybrid

19 city/23 hwy

4.0 turbo V8 Hybrid

16 city/21 hwy

On the EPA test cycle the XC90 running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the GLS:

MPG

XC90

FWD

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

AWD

T8 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl. Hybrid

26 city/28 hwy

T5 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

20 city/28 hwy

T6 2.0 turbo/SC 4-cyl.

19 city/28 hwy

GLS

AWD

3.0 turbo 6-cyl. Hybrid

19 city/23 hwy

4.0 turbo V8 Hybrid

16 city/21 hwy

The XC90 Recharge can drive on battery power alone for up to 18 miles. The GLS must run its internal combustion engine to move.

The XC90 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 GLS doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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The XC90 stops shorter than the GLS:

XC90

GLS

60 to 0 MPH

113 feet

122 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

143 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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The XC90’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GLS’ 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The XC90 T6 AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the GLS 580 pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the XC90 w/19” wheels’ turning circle is .7 feet tighter than the GLS’ (38.7 feet vs. 39.4 feet).

Chassis

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The Volvo XC90 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 600 to 1350 pounds less than the Mercedes GLS.

The XC90 is 10 inches shorter than the GLS 450, making the XC90 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

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The XC90’s cargo area is larger than the GLS’ in almost every dimension:

XC90

GLS

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

21.8”/49.6”/80.3”

22.2”/48.1”/81.3”

Max Width

54.7”

49”

Min Width

44.5”

42.5”

Height

35”

34.7”

Ergonomics

© 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 2020/10/23

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The GLS doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the XC90 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLS only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC90 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GLS doesn’t offer headlight washers.

A manual rear sunshade and rear side window sunshades are optional in the XC90 to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The GLS doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Model Availability

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The XC90 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The GLS doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the XC90 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the XC90 will cost $3545 to $8375 less than the GLS over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the XC90 is less expensive to operate than the GLS because it costs $19 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the XC90 than the GLS, including $226 less for a muffler, $72 less for front brake pads, $76 less for a starter, $157 less for fuel injection, $162 less for front struts and $140 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Volvo XC90 will be $31625 to $32549 less than for the Mercedes GLS.

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 2020/10/23

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Volvo XC90, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Mercedes GLS isn't recommended.

Motor Trend selected the XC90 as their 2016 Sport Utility of the Year. The GLS has never been chosen.

The XC90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The GLS has never been an “All Star.”

A group of representative automotive journalists from North America selected the XC90 as the 2016 North American Truck of the Year. The GLS has never been chosen.

The Volvo XC90 outsold the Mercedes GLS by 61% during 2019.

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