Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2015 Mercedes Benz GL-Class VS 2016 Acura MDX Near Phoenix, AZ

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2015 Mercedes Benz GL-Class

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2016 Acura MDX

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes GL-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 MDX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.

The GL-Class has standard NECK-PRO Front Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO Front Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The MDX doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the GL-Class. But it costs extra on the MDX.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the GL-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 MDX doesn’t offer a night vision system.

The GL-Class offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The MDX only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The GL-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 MDX doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the GL-Class and the MDX 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 and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

The Mercedes GL-Class weighs 1103 to 1794 pounds more than the Acura MDX. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

The Mercedes GL-Class has a better fatality history. The GL-Class was involved in fatal accidents at a rate 12% lower per vehicle registered than the MDX, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Warranty Comparison

There are over 14 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the GL-Class’ warranty.

Reliability Comparison

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2014 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 13th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 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 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 11th.

Engine Comparison

The GL450’s standard 3.0 turbo V6 produces 72 more horsepower (362 vs. 290) and 102 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 267) than the MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6. The GL550’s standard 4.7 turbo V8 produces 139 more horsepower (429 vs. 290) and 249 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 267) than the MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6. The GL63 AMG’s standard 5.5 turbo V8 produces 260 more horsepower (550 vs. 290) and 293 lbs.-ft. more torque (560 vs. 267) than the MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6.

The GL-Class’ 3.0 turbo V6 diesel produces 188 lbs.-ft. more torque (455 vs. 267) than the MDX’s 3.5 SOHC V6.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The GL-Class has 6.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the MDX (26.4 vs. 19.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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

GL350 BlueTEC



Front Rotors

13.8 inches

15.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

13.6 inches

13 inches

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

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the GL-Class has larger standard tires than the MDX (275/55R19 vs. 245/60R18). The GL550/GL63 AMG’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MDX (295/40R21 vs. 245/60R18).

The GL-Class’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MDX’s standard 60 series tires. The GL550/GL63 AMG’s tires have a lower 40 series profile than the MDX’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GL-Class has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the MDX. The GL550/GL63 AMG’s 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the MDX.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The GL-Class offers active sway bars, which help keep it flat and controlled during cornering, but disconnect at lower speeds to smooth the ride and offer greater off-road suspension articulation. This helps keep the tires glued to the road on-road and off. The MDX doesn’t offer an active sway bar system.

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

The GL-Class offers an optional 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 or off-road. The MDX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The GL-Class has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The GL-Class’ height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The MDX doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The GL-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 MDX doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GL-Class’ wheelbase is 10.1 inches longer than on the MDX (121.1 inches vs. 111 inches).

For greater off-road capability the GL-Class has a 3.6 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the MDX (10.9 vs. 7.3 inches), allowing the GL-Class to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GL-Class’ minimum ground clearance is 4.7 inches higher than on the MDX (12 vs. 7.3 inches).

Passenger Space Comparison

The GL-Class has 3.1 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 1.9 inches more rear legroom, 3.3 inches more third row headroom and 7.6 inches more third row legroom than the MDX.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The GL-Class’ cargo area provides more volume than the MDX.



Behind Third Seat

16 cubic feet

15.8 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

49.4 cubic feet

43.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

93.8 cubic feet

90.9 cubic feet

The GL-Class’ cargo area is larger than the MDX’s in almost every dimension:



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



Pressing a switch automatically lowers the GL-Class’ optional second and third row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Ergonomics Comparison

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the MDX, the GL-Class offers an optional 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 GL-Class and the MDX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GL-Class is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The MDX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The GL-Class’ rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The MDX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The GL-Class offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The MDX doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the GL-Class detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The MDX doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the GL-Class offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The MDX doesn’t offer cornering lights. The GL-Class also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the GL-Class has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The MDX doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

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

The GL-Class’ optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The MDX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the GL-Class is less expensive to operate than the MDX because typical repairs cost much less on the GL-Class than the MDX, including $19 less for a timing belt/chain and $433 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations Comparison

Both the Mercedes GL-Class and Acura MDX won four awards in Kiplinger’s 2015 car issue.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the GL-Class third among large premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The MDX isn’t in the top three in its category.

Motor Trend selected the GL-Class as their 2013 Sport Utility of the Year. The MDX was Sport Utility of the Year in 2001.

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