Acura MDX vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - September 18, 2019

The world of luxury crossovers continues to expand. As buyers flock to larger cars, the competition gets fiercer and fiercer. The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and Acura MDX are two front-runners. Although both offer luxurious interiors and third-row seating, they bring their own distinct philosophies to the mix. Which is the better buy? Here’s our take.

See a side-by-side comparison of the MDX & GLE-Class »

What the MDX Gets Right

No doubt the biggest draw of the Acura MDX is its price point. Starting at $45,395, the MDX is $9,300 cheaper than a base Mercedes-Benz GLE 350. Even still, the features on the base MDX don't disappoint. Three-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and a power moonroof all come standard.

The regular MDX manages to barely win on fuel economy, achieving 23 miles per gallon combined compared to the GLE-Class’s 22 mpg, according to the EPA. However, the one mpg advantage disappears with all-wheel drive selected. But more tempting is the available Sport Hybrid powertrain on the MDX, which bumps fuel economy up to a strong 27 mpg combined.

In either form, the MDX is more powerful than the base GLE 350. The standard V6 produces 290 horsepower (to the GLE 350’s 255 hp), while the hybrid adds electric power for a total of 321 hp.

Finally, the MDX wins out on space in the back. Although the third row of the GLE-Class works in a pinch, if you need to carry more than five adults, the MDX’s third row is more useful.

What the GLE-Class Gets Right

While Acura MDX is no slouch, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class brings the weight of the brand's luxury pedigree, and the results don't disappoint. The list of luxury options is nearly endless. For example, the GLE-Class comes with a massive 12.3-inch touchscreen running the brand’s latest MBUX infotainment system.

Aside from the third row, the GLE-Class cabin is a little more spacious than that of the MDX. The differences aren’t huge, but the GLE-Class has more head room and leg room in both the first and second rows.

Finally, although the MDX may offer more base power and a hybrid option, the engine range of the GLE extends much further. In addition to the base GLE 350, Mercedes-Benz offers the GLE 450 and three AMG models: GLE 43, GLE 63, and GLE 63 S. Each level adds more power and performance, all the way up to the mind-bending 577 hp of the AMG GLE 63 S.

Even outside of performance, the added options bring benefits. The GLE 450 can tow up to 6,000 pounds, which is 1,000 more than the strongest MDX.

Justifying the Price

Many of the differences between these cars are minute – a few inches of leg room here, an extra mpg there. By far the biggest difference is the price. Although both claim the title of luxury three-row crossover, the Acura MDX comes at many thousands less.

So, is the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class worth the extra money? For the right driver, maybe. The interior is gorgeous and luxurious, the ride is comfortable, and the available powertrains are excellent.

But we can’t help feeling that most buyers would be just as happy in an MDX. It may not come with a three-pointed star on the front, but it offers striking looks, most of the luxury, and strong technology, including a hybrid option – all for a fraction of the price.

Our Verdict: Acura MDX

These two cars will appeal to two different drivers. For those who prioritize luxury and power, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is still one of the best options on the market. But the Acura MDX punches above its weight. With tasteful option selection and the hybrid powertrain, it’s a worthy luxury crossover at a value-packed price.

Take a closer look at the Acura MDX »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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