Midsize luxury SUVs safety ratings: Lexus v. Mercedes-Benz

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Things to remember...

  • Lexus and Mercedes-Benz have always been competing brands in the luxury auto marketplace
  • Each company tries to compete with high-class aesthetics and performance features, but safety ratings are also a focus
  • When you compare the Lexus RX350 and the Mercedes GLE350, you will find that each of the vehicles has similar ratings
  • Both Lexus and Mercedes-Benz luxury midsize SUVs have earned the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ awards
  • While the RX350 and GLE350 both have similar grades, Lexus’s model made the grade with standard features


SUV’s might be the most practical vehicle style available but not all models come with the most solid safety ratings.

While models manufactured by luxury brands like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are undoubtedly high-class, having access to modern luxuries and premium equipment doesn’t necessarily mean that a vehicle is safe.

It’s crucial to always research midsize SUV safety ratings before ever buying a luxury model.

When researching the overall safety and performance of a midsize SUV, it can be helpful to use data compiled by a non-profit organization like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Make sure to compare rates for either SUV with our free quote tool above! 

The IIHS uses actual loss data to research human factors that could account for a high rate of accidents. In addition, the IIHS has a Vehicle Research Center that focuses on testing a vehicle’s crashworthiness and crash avoidance.

The IIHS has expanded their Vehicle Research Center year-round. What this means is that there’s more time to crash test each and every model that hits production rather than limiting the test subjects.

If you’re toggling between a Lexus luxury SUV and a Mercedes-Benz, here’s what you need to know about how midsize models performed:

Comparison of Safety Ratings

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If your dream has always been to own a Lexus or a Mercedes-Benz, you’ve checked one item of the car-buying process off of your list.

To help you make even more difficult decisions, you’ll need to know more about how safe each midsize SUV really is to drive. This is where IIHS crashworthiness ratings come in handy.

Even auto body type has pros and cons, even when it comes to safety. Since the actual construction of a midsize SUV is far different than the chassis of a sedan or a full-size SUV, it’s important to look for risks.

Not only does everybody style perform differently in a crash, every vehicle model does too. Even a small tweak in the design of an SUV can have major effects on its crash ratings.

Rather than testing out a vehicle’s ability to withstand the force of an accident in your own life, it’s much better to depend on an experienced organization that has all of the technologies and knowledge to test this accurately.

To truly compare each make’s safety, you’ll have to choose which model you’re interested in. For sake of comparison, we will compare the Lexus RX to the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Understanding the Rating System

You can’t really compare crashworthiness or crash avoidance ratings unless you understand the entire rating system. IIHS administers five different tests for all vehicles tested.

After the test is over, the damage is assessed, and then a grade is assigned for that specific crashworthiness test. The Front Crash Avoidance System is also assessed.

Here are all the tests conducted:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats
  • Front crash prevention
  • Headlights
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH)

IIHS will rate the vehicles in each of these different areas. The actual rating in every area can affect whether or not a car will receive the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ designation. The ratings that you’ll see include:

  • Good
  • Acceptable
  • Marginal
  • Poor
  • Basic, Advanced or Superior (front crash prevention only)

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Safety Ratings for the Lexus RX

The overall platform of the 2017 Lexus RX midsize luxury SUV is very well-constructed and that shows because the vehicle received the highest possible award as a 2017 Top Safety Pick+. Here’s a breakdown of the IIHS ratings for the RX in each category:

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior
  • Headlights – Acceptable (with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Good (with additional latches)

As you can see by all of the crashworthiness ratings, the Lexus RX performed as good as you would expect from a luxury standpoint.

Premium features should always translate into premium safety. In addition to scoring at the top of the list in crash test, the Front Crash Prevention system, which comes standard in this model, scored “Superior” marks.

As far as child seat anchors, each of the three latching systems in the car were tested and given a Good rating.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly luxury SUV, the child seat latch rating should be a major priority. This tends to be an area where a lot of manufacturers fail to receive high marks.

The only real area where the Lexus RX struggled is Headlight performance. This is a fairly new grade that is given for standard headlights and the RX received an “Acceptable” rating.

Tests found that there were some glare and visibility for the low beams wasn’t as good on the left side as it was on the right. Visibility could be a factor.

Safety Ratings for the Mercedes-Benz GLE

 

  • Small overlap front – Good
  • Moderate overlap front – Good
  • Roof strength – Good
  • Side – Good
  • Head restraints & seats – Good
  • Front Crash Prevention – Superior (with optional equipment)
  • Headlights – Acceptable (with optional equipment)
  • Child Seat Anchors Ease of Use – Good

Much like the Lexus RX, the competing model through Mercedes-Benz receives very high marks. The 2017 GLE was tested for crashworthiness and received “Good” ratings the whole way around.

Like the Lexus RX, the Mercedes GLE was given the Superior Front Crash Prevention grade, where it received six out of six points.

The only difference here is that you must add on the optional Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function to benefit from this. This is a system that comes standard in the Lexus. Like the Lexus RX, the GLE also only received an Acceptable rating for the highest trim level.

Another thing to consider from a child safety standpoint is that the GLE received a Good rating on child seats but it is still missing a LATCH system for the middle seat.

Lexus has a LATCH system for each of the three seats. If you want the additional LATCH, you’re better off buying the Lexus.

2017 Top Safety Pick+

Not just any car can earn the Top Safety Pick+ designation. To qualify for this, you have to meet the rating criteria set by IIHS.

Currently, you must have all Good ratings on crashworthiness, an acceptable or good headlight rating, and a Superior crash prevention rating. Both the Lexus RX and the Mercedes GLE have received the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award.

Is Lexus safer than Mercedes-Benz in 2017 for midsize luxury SUVs?

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At the end of the stay, when you’re comparing the two makes, Lexus is safer for midsize luxury SUVs by just a hair.

The only major difference is that the Lexus RX comes standard with front crash prevention systems and the Mercedes-Benz doesn’t. Lexus also has the better LATCH system for parents who need more versatility.

Insurance premiums are strongly influenced by a vehicle’s safety record. Not only do you want a safer car, you want lower insurance premiums.

Typically, cars that are safer cost less to insure for liability coverage options. Get online comparison quotes for a Lexus RX and then a Mercedes GLE and see what the difference in rates is by using our free quote tool now! 

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