Lexus RX 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 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and the Lexus RX have long enjoyed privileged positions in the market of luxury crossovers. The GLE-Class is the luxury champ, bringing a prestigious badge and Mercedes-Benz pedigree. Meanwhile, the RX is a pleasant alternative to the Germans, offering practicality and reliability with excellent value. The sales numbers have proven its success. But the GLE-Class is fresh off a redesign, and Lexus has been on a mission to sharpen its lineup. How do the two stack up? We took a closer look to find out.

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

What the RX Gets Right

What draws most buyers to the Lexus RX is its starting price. The base RX 350 starts at $44,595, which is $10,100 cheapter than a base Mercedes-Benz GLE 350. The most expensive RX, the RX 450h F Sport, is still cheaper than the base GLE-Class model.

Even with the price deficit, the RX comes with more standard power. The 3.5-liter V6 inside the base RX produces 295 horsepower, compared to just 255 hp in the GLE 350.

For a surprisingly modest price premium, buyers can opt for the hybrid RX 450h. Even with standard all-wheel drive, the 450h manages an EPA-estimated 30 miles per gallon combined, far better than the 22 mpg combined of the GLE-Class.

Don’t let the price difference fool you, either – this is still a comfortable car. Typical Lexus virtues like a smooth ride and a quiet cabin are as present as ever.

What the GLE-Class Gets Right

Although the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class commands a significant price premium, it does pack in more features. All-wheel drive is standard (although a rear-wheel drive option may join later this year), and even base models come with features like a 12.3-inch touchscreen running the brand's latest MBUX infotainment system. Notably, that system includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, which the Lexus RX can’t match.

The exterior shows a similar attention to detail. Lexus’s new “spindle” grille design has been polarizing, but the GLE-Class looks as classic as ever.

Although the RX has the edge on power in the base model, the GLE-Class model range extends far past the GLE 350. The GLE 450 offers a six-cylinder engine producing 362 hp, and things only go up from there – the AMG GLE 63 S produces a staggering 577 hp. By contrast, the performance-oriented RX F Sport adds no extra power – it just pipes more exhaust noise into the cabin.

Although the third row is cramped in both, the RX's is suitable only for children. The GLE-Class can seat adults back there in a pinch.

How Much Is a Badge Worth?

Deciding between these two SUVs comes down to one question: is the added polish and performance of the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class worth the not-inconsiderable price increase? The RX isn’t spartan even in base form, and an extra 10 grand goes a long way.

For buyers who don’t like to compromise, the GLE-Class may be worth the money. Performance enthusiasts will delight in the engine options, and the polished interior makes every passenger comfortable.

Our Verdict: Lexus RX

The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class will draw its fair share of buyers, many based on the badge alone. After the redesign, it’s as strong a contender as ever. But the Lexus RX brings too much value to ignore. The design may be sharper, but this is still a Lexus that's comfortable, safe, and practical. Added to the savings, that’s a tempting package.

Take a closer look at the Lexus RX »

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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