2021 Volvo XC90 vs 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
$54,750MSRP
Overview
Overview
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2021 Volvo XC90
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
$54,750MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class was 8.0 out of 10, while the 2021 Volvo XC90 scored 7.7 out of 10. Despite Volvo's praiseworthy design and stellar safety record, the GLE-Class edged ahead with its superior ride quality, interior luxury, technological advancements, and impressive towing capacity. The clear winner in this comparison is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

Overview

MSRP

$54,750

MSRP

$49,000

Average price

$51,096

Average price

$39,723

Listings

1205

Listings

1320
Ratings & Reviews
User Reviews
User Reviews

Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10

Expert reviews

7.7 out of 10
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Premium interior materials
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Uninspired styling
  • Advanced safety features are not standard
  • Underwhelming base engine
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Premium interior materials
  • Great safety ratings
Cons
  • Cramped third row
  • Sluggish performance
  • No USB-C ports

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Reviews Summary

Redesigned for 2020, the GLE-Class is the second-most-popular Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. It's a midsize luxury SUV in every traditional sense, but because Mercedes has way too much time and money to develop cars, the newest GLE has comfort and technology that border on ridiculous. The GLE Coupe models are brand-new for 2021 and among the strangest vehicles on the planet. Among the eight variants of this big Benz, at least one might fit your lifestyle, if not your budget.

2021 Volvo XC90 Reviews Summary

Volvo may be known for sensible station wagons, but the XC90 SUV is the Swedish automaker’s de facto flagship. The current generation debuted design features, technology, and powertrains that have since found their way into most other Volvo models. Several years into the current-generation model’s lifecycle, the XC90 is no longer a trendsetter, but remains Volvo’s contender in the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment, with the automaker’s typical emphasis on safety features.

The current-generation XC90 launched for the 2016 model year, so most competitors—including the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class—have been updated or redesigned since then. The Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator didn’t even exist when this generation of XC90 launched.

A redesigned version is expected to arrive soon, so changes to the 2021 XC90 are minimal. All 2021 Volvo models are now limited to 112 mph for safety reasons and get Care Key, which lets owners limit the top speed before loaning the car out to a friend or family member. The XC90 also gets a handful of newly standard tech features, and some small cosmetic changes.

Volvo offers the XC90 in three trim levels—Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription—with three powertrain options: T5 and T6 gasoline engines, and the T8 plug-in hybrid. Our test car was a range-topping T8 Recharge Inscription, combining the top Inscription trim level with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which has the highest output of the three.

No video found
Popular Features & Specs

Engine

2.0L 255 hp I4

Engine

2.0L 250 hp I4

Drive Train

RWD

Drive Train

FWD

Seating Capacity

7

Seating Capacity

7

Horsepower

255 hp @ 5800 rpm

Horsepower

250 hp @ 5500 rpm

MPG City

19

MPG City

21

MPG Highway

26

MPG Highway

30
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
$54,750MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volvo XC90
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
$54,750MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now
2021 Volvo XC90
$49,000MSRP
Overview
Overview
OverviewShop Now

CarGurus highlights

Winning Vehicle Image

According to CarGurus experts, the overall rating for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class was 8.0 out of 10, while the 2021 Volvo XC90 scored 7.7 out of 10. Despite Volvo's praiseworthy design and stellar safety record, the GLE-Class edged ahead with its superior ride quality, interior luxury, technological advancements, and impressive towing capacity. The clear winner in this comparison is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class.

Overview
MSRP
$54,750
$49,000
Average price
$51,096
$39,723
Listings
Ratings & Reviews
User reviews
4.5
4.7
Expert reviews

8.0 out of 10

Read full review

7.7 out of 10

Read full review
Pros & cons
Pros
  • Multiple powertrain options
  • Premium interior materials
  • Impressive technology
Cons
  • Uninspired styling
  • Advanced safety features are not standard
  • Underwhelming base engine
Pros
  • Stylish design
  • Premium interior materials
  • Great safety ratings
Cons
  • Cramped third row
  • Sluggish performance
  • No USB-C ports
Summary
Redesigned for 2020, the GLE-Class is the second-most-popular Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. It's a midsize luxury SUV in every traditional sense, but because Mercedes has way too much time and money to develop cars, the newest GLE has comfort and technology that border on ridiculous. The GLE Coupe models are brand-new for 2021 and among the strangest vehicles on the planet. Among the eight variants of this big Benz, at least one might fit your lifestyle, if not your budget.

Volvo may be known for sensible station wagons, but the XC90 SUV is the Swedish automaker’s de facto flagship. The current generation debuted design features, technology, and powertrains that have since found their way into most other Volvo models. Several years into the current-generation model’s lifecycle, the XC90 is no longer a trendsetter, but remains Volvo’s contender in the competitive midsize luxury SUV segment, with the automaker’s typical emphasis on safety features.

The current-generation XC90 launched for the 2016 model year, so most competitors—including the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, BMW X5, and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class—have been updated or redesigned since then. The Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator didn’t even exist when this generation of XC90 launched.

A redesigned version is expected to arrive soon, so changes to the 2021 XC90 are minimal. All 2021 Volvo models are now limited to 112 mph for safety reasons and get Care Key, which lets owners limit the top speed before loaning the car out to a friend or family member. The XC90 also gets a handful of newly standard tech features, and some small cosmetic changes.

Volvo offers the XC90 in three trim levels—Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription—with three powertrain options: T5 and T6 gasoline engines, and the T8 plug-in hybrid. Our test car was a range-topping T8 Recharge Inscription, combining the top Inscription trim level with the plug-in hybrid powertrain, which has the highest output of the three.

Video
No video found
Popular Features & Specs
Engine
2.0L 255 hp I4
2.0L 250 hp I4
Drive Train
RWD
FWD
Seating Capacity
7
7
Horsepower
255 hp @ 5800 rpm
250 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG City
19
21
MPG Highway
26
30
Look and feel
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
6/10
2021 Volvo XC90
9/10
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class had a mixed reception when it came to its exterior design. Critics felt it was merely adequate, lacking the elegance and sophistication one might expect from the brand. The original ML from 1997 had failed to impress visually compared to the BMW X5, and years later, the GLE (rebranded in 2016) had not substantially evolved beyond looking like an obligatory homework assignment. The aggressive front nose and sloping hood gave way to a more mundane design post A-pillar, making it quite similar in appearance to its predecessors. Though efforts were made to refine the tail with flat taillights and a contoured rear, the overall aesthetic didn't match up to the sleek lines of competitors like the BMW X5 M or Porsche Cayenne Turbo. Inside, however, the 2021 GLE-Class shined with its interior craftsmanship. The redesigned cabin offered a masterpiece of quality, layout, colors, and textures. The use of materials such as wood, metal, leather, and suede added to the luxurious feel, albeit marred slightly by flimsy gear selector and turn signal stalks. The cherry on top for comfort and usability was the new MBUX infotainment system, described as a significant improvement from its predecessor. The 2021 Volvo XC90 represented a successful design transformation for the brand, initially launched in 2016. Volvo preserved its classic styling features, such as a boxy profile and a blunt front end with a rectangular grille, while integrating modern touches that added character without betraying its heritage. Subtler lines, additional chrome in lieu of plastic, and the distinctive LED headlights with “Thor’s Hammer” daytime running lights helped redefine its appearance. Our tested Inscription trim flaunted extra chrome trim and optional 21-inch alloy wheels, making it the flashiest in the lineup. In contrast, other trims—like the sportier R-Design and the base Momentum—had different design elements tailored to their specific market segments. The XC90 embraced the minimalist yet functional design ethos, combining it with features that made it stand out among luxury SUVs. Inside, the XC90 lived up to its “Swedish minimalism” moniker. The layout was neither cluttered nor overwhelming but used high-quality materials like matte-finish wood and the rare wool upholstery option to create a sophisticated ambiance. The interior, with its restrained and thought-out details, contrasted sharply with the ultra-luxurious feel of the GLE-Class but remained impressively elegant.
Performance
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
10/10
2021 Volvo XC90
7/10
Performance-wise, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class excelled as a multi-faceted machine. It utilized all the tricks up Mercedes's sleeve, including air suspensions and turbocharging. The GLE 350, with its coil-sprung setup, was the most straightforward and reliable, offering a balanced ride. Stepping up to the GLE 450 introduced the AIRMATIC self-leveling air springs and adaptive dampers, which could adjust based on weight and slope. The GLE models further featured a range of air suspensions, but the AMG Ride Control+ and E-Active Body Control were the real showstoppers, capable of anti-roll and even leaning into turns à la motorcyclist. AMG versions, specifically the AMG GLE 53 Coupe, boasted an integrated electric supercharger, eliminating turbo lag and enhancing throttle response. For the truly power-hungry, the GLE 580 offered a twin-turbo V8 with 483 hp, and the AMG GLE 63 S maxed out at 603 hp. Every GLE except the base model incorporated a hybrid setup with a 48-volt battery, aiding fuel efficiency slightly but notably improving ride smoothness and functionality. Real-world fuel economy for the various models ranged between 16 to 23 mpg combined, depending on configuration. Though the GLE didn’t outshine its competitors in fuel efficiency, its range of powertrains ensured diversified performance suited for different needs. Towing capacity was an impressive 7,700 pounds across all trims, further showcasing its versatile prowess. The 2021 Volvo XC90 featured three distinct powertrains, all based on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base T5 offered a turbocharged version with 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The T6 engine combined turbocharging and supercharging to elevate performance to 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The top-tier T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid (Recharge) used the T6 engine augmented with electric motors, delivering a combined 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. The XC90's powertrain variety catered to different preferences, but the focus on a four-cylinder engine meant it lagged behind V6 and V8 competitors in flexibility and smoothness. The T8, while offering impressive power, often had to juggle between efficiency and performance, with its three drive modes—Pure, Hybrid, and Power—sometimes limiting all-electric usability. The XC90 excelled in traditional luxury, boasting a comfortable ride supported by an optional air suspension system and quiet cabin ambiance. However, its towing capacity topped out at 5,000 pounds for most models (4,000 pounds for the FWD T5), which paled compared to the GLE-Class’s capability.
Form and function
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
7/10
2021 Volvo XC90
6/10
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class provided flexibility and spaciousness, primarily as a two-row SUV but with the option for a third row accommodating up to seven passengers. Second-row outboard occupants benefited from power controls for reclining and fore-aft adjustments. The GLE Coupe variant, however, was limited to five passengers, and its cargo capacity was noticeably smaller. Behind the second row, the GLE boasted 34 cubic feet of cargo space, expandable to 75 cubic feet with all seats folded. The coupe variant offered 23 cubic feet behind the second row and 61 cubic feet overall, constrained by its sloping roofline and massive rear tires that limited door opening space. The GLE’s interior scored high on usability with the MBUX infotainment system and numerous intuitive controls, though complex enough that some setup time was advisable before hitting the road. The 2021 Volvo XC90 offered a genuine three-row configuration, available in six or seven-seat layouts. The choice between second-row captain’s chairs or a bench seat allowed for different seating arrangements. Though headroom and legroom matched the segment’s average, the third row was tight for adults, and certain seats lacked adequate support. Volvo optimized its space with thoughtful features, including a power moonroof extending over the first two rows and a four-zone climate control system. However, cargo space fell short compared to rivals. With all seats in place, the T8 Recharge version had 11.2 cubic feet of storage, expanding to 64.1 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. The hands-free power tailgate added convenience but couldn’t offset the limited storage capacity.
Technology
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
10/10
2021 Volvo XC90
8/10
The 2021 GLE-Class was packed with advanced technology, headlined by a 12-inch touchscreen equipped with the Interior Assistant feature. This system could recognize hand gestures for various shortcuts and functions, making it exceptionally user-friendly over time. Seat Kinetics, the Track Pace app, and the plethora of customizable settings for the head-up display and instrument cluster underscored Mercedes's technological ambition. Additional features included ambient lighting with 64 color options, live camera-assisted navigation, and a voice assistant capable of learning new commands over time. The infotainment system supported Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and various indulgent features like seat massage, heated armrests, and bolsters added to the luxury experience. Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system in the 2021 XC90 exemplified simplicity and efficiency. The 9-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen facilitated intuitive navigation akin to a tablet, eliminating the need for numerous physical controls. The minimalist design extended to the infotainment interface, enhancing usability. Standard features included a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, WiFi hotspot, and multiple USB ports. The optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system and head-up display further elevated the in-car experience. One notable downside was the limited size of the wireless charging pad, potentially incompatible with most modern phones.
Safety
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE
10/10
2021 Volvo XC90
9/10
The 2020 GLE, structurally identical to the 2021 model, received the prestigious Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS, scoring well in six crash tests, headlight safety, and forward emergency braking. The GLE featured an array of standard and optional safety technologies, including blind-spot monitoring, driver attention monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and evasive steering assist. Optional features elevated safety to another level with functionalities like 360-degree cameras, Pre-Safe Sound, and Pre-Safe Impulse Side. The non-hybrid 2021 Volvo XC90 also earned the Top Safety Pick+ title from the IIHS, with stellar scores in crash tests, front-crash prevention tech, and acceptable ratings for headlights and LATCH anchors. The NHTSA awarded it a five-star overall rating. Standard safety features were robust, including lane-keep assist, driver-attention alert, traffic-sign recognition, and Volvo’s Pilot Assist combining adaptive cruise control with lane centering.
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