Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class vs. Mercedes-Benz GLS-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 - December 12, 2018

For years, it was relatively easy to choose between Mercedes-Benz crossovers and SUVs. Do you need to carry more than five? If so, the GLS-Class was your only option. But that’s no longer the case. With a full redesign in 2020, the GLE-Class is back with a modern overhaul and an optional third row.

Not wanting to upstage the giant of the lineup, Mercedes-Benz also overhauled the GLS-Class for 2020. Both cars now boast Mercedes-Benz’s most modern features, like hybrid power and active driving assists. So, which new utility vehicle is worth the (considerable) price?

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

What the GLE-Class Gets Right

Although no Mercedes-Benz can exactly be considered cheap, the GLE-Class has the upper hand in the price department. The GLE-Class actually gets slightly cheaper for 2020, starting around $55,000. That’s tens of thousands cheaper than the GLS-Class, which pushes close to $80,000.

For the price, the GLE-Class comes with many of the same features as the GLS-Class. That includes Mercedes-Benz's new infotainment system, MBUX, which responds to voice commands and may be controlled via either a touchscreen or a console-mounted touchpad. The GLE-Class can have an optional third row, and it can even come close to matching the zero-to-60 mph times of the AMG GLS 63.

In base form, however, the GLE-Class comes with a more sensible turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It won’t breathe fire, but it gets better mileage than any GLS-Class model with 22 mpg combined, according to the EPA. The outgoing GLS 450 managed only 18 mpg combined, and we don’t expect the new one to improve drastically.

What the GLS-Class Gets Right

The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class was already a large car, but its dimensions have been stretched for 2020. It has the edge on cargo space, with 49 cubic feet behind the second row and nearly 85 with both rows folded. Maybe more importantly, the third row of the GLS-Class can fit two adults in a pinch. The one in the GLE-Class is probably best reserved for smaller passengers.

Although the GLS-Class is significantly more expensive than the GLE-Class, it comes with more power. The base GLS 450 comes with a 362-horsepower turbocharged six-cylinder engine. That engine is optional on the GLE-Class. The GLS 550 comes with a huge 483-hp V8.

But the extra money doesn’t just buy space and power. The interior of the GLE-Class is nothing to sneeze at, but the GLS-Class puts its extra cabin space to good use. Interior fit and finish is impeccable, with comfortable seats for every passenger and a plethora of luxury options. Mercedes-Benz is positioning the GLS-Class as the SUV equivalent of the opulent S-Class sedan – and it’s working.

True Luxury

Most family buyers will be satisfied with either of these Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Neither will disappoint in luxury, practicality, or as a fashion statement. But even with the GLE-Class' new third row, families who need to carry more than seven should look hard at the GLS-Class. It’s much more spacious, and the third row is more comfortable for everyone except children. The other reason to choose the GLS-Class is all-out lavish comfort. If you like your utility vehicle to feel palatial, the GLS-Class is about as close as it gets.

Our Verdict: Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class

The Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class is a remarkably polished car, but it distinguishes itself on two main qualities: space and luxury. The GLS-Class justifies its cost with a sumptuous cabin and a healthy third row. If neither of those qualities is mandatory, the GLE-Class is plenty luxurious, and you can buy an extra car with all the money you save.

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

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz GLS-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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