Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 Mercedes Benz GL-Class VS 2016 Cadillac Escalade Near Phoenix, AZ

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2016 Mercedes Benz GL-Class

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2016 Cadillac Escalade

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 Cadillac Escalade 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 Escalade 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 Escalade.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the GL-Class’ standard Downhill Speed Regulation allows you to creep down safely. The Escalade doesn’t offer Downhill Speed Regulation.

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 Escalade doesn’t offer a night vision system.

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 Escalade doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

For better protection of the passenger compartment, the GL-Class uses safety cell construction with a three-dimensional high-strength frame that surrounds the passenger compartment. It provides extra impact protection and a sturdy mounting location for door hardware and side impact beams. The Escalade uses a body-on-frame design, which has no frame members above the floor of the vehicle.

Both the GL-Class and the Escalade have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

The Mercedes GL-Class has a better fatality history. The GL-Class was involved in fatal accidents at a rate 37% lower per vehicle registered than the Escalade, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Reliability Comparison

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the engines in the GL-Class have an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of the engine in the Escalade.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the GL-Class second among large premium suvs in their 2015 Initial Quality Study. The Escalade isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Cadillac vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Cadillac is ranked 21st, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

The GL550’s standard 4.7 turbo V8 produces 9 more horsepower (429 vs. 420) and 56 lbs.-ft. more torque (516 vs. 460) than the Escalade’s 6.2 V8. The GL63 AMG’s standard 5.5 turbo V8 produces 130 more horsepower (550 vs. 420) and 100 lbs.-ft. more torque (560 vs. 460) than the Escalade’s 6.2 V8.

As tested in Motor Trend the GL63 AMG 5.5 turbo V8 is faster than the Cadillac Escalade:



Zero to 60 MPH

4.7 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

13.1 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

108.3 MPH

97 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the GL350 BlueTEC gets better fuel mileage than the Escalade 4WD (19 city/26 hwy vs. 15 city/21 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the GL450 V6 gets better city fuel mileage than the Escalade 4x4 (17 city/21 hwy vs. 15 city/21 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GL-Class GL450/GL63 AMG’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Escalade doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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

GL350 BlueTEC/GL450



Front Rotors

13.8 inches

15.4 inches

13 inches

The GL-Class stops much shorter than the Escalade:



60 to 0 MPH

104 feet

133 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the GL550/GL63 AMG’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Escalade (295/40R21 vs. 285/45R22).

The GL550/GL63 AMG’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Escalade’s optional 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For superior ride and handling, the Mercedes GL-Class has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Cadillac Escalade has a solid rear axle, with a non-independent rear suspension.

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 Escalade 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 Escalade, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

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 Escalade doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GL-Class’ wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Escalade (121.1 inches vs. 116 inches).

The GL63 AMG handles at .86 G’s, while the Escalade 4x4 pulls only .74 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The GL63 AMG executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Escalade 4x4 (26.8 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

For greater off-road capability the GL-Class has a 2.9 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the Escalade (10.9 vs. 8 inches), allowing the GL-Class to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The GL-Class’ minimum ground clearance is 4 inches higher than on the Escalade (12 vs. 8 inches).

Chassis Comparison

The Mercedes GL-Class may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 100 to 200 pounds less than the Cadillac Escalade.

Unibody construction makes the GL-Class’ chassis much stiffer, which contributes to better handling, and enables softer springs to be used for a better ride. Unibody construction’s stiffness also contributes to better durability and less body squeaks and rattles. The Escalade doesn’t use unibody construction, but a body-on-frame design.

Passenger Space Comparison

The GL-Class has 1.3 inches more rear headroom, .8 inches more third row headroom and 10.2 inches more third row legroom than the Escalade.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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



Behind Third Seat

16 cubic feet

15.2 cubic feet

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



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



A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the GL-Class. The Escalade doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Ergonomics Comparison

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Escalade, 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 GL-Class’ front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Escalade’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the windows are left down on the GL-Class the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor); on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the Escalade can only raise the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Escalade doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The Escalade’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The GL-Class’ optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

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 Escalade doesn’t offer secondary sun 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 Escalade doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations Comparison

The Mercedes GL-Class won two awards in Kiplinger’s 2015 car issue. The Cadillac Escalade didn't win any award.

Motor Trend selected the GL-Class as their 2013 Sport Utility of the Year. The Escalade has never been chosen.

The Mercedes GL-Class outsold the Cadillac Escalade/Escalade ESV by 17% during the 2015 model year.

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