A successor to the now-discontinued ML-Class, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is Mercedes’ entry in the fiercely-competitive mid-sized premium SUV class. Base cars come with rear-wheel drive and a 302-hp 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine, with more powerful gasoline engines, all-wheel drive and even a plug-in hybrid setup available as options. The vehicle’s large size makes it tricky at times to drive the GLE in tighter spots, though the Mercedes enters its stride at highway speeds thanks to its supple ride and the refined, spacious interior. Build quality levels and cargo capacities are pretty impressive, too.
The four-door coupe version may beat it in the style stakes, but the Mercedes-Benz GLE’s boxier shape compensates by being far more accommodating and practical for real-world use – whilst also undercutting the four-door by several thousands of dollars. Better still, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is also a very accomplished all-rounder, with its blend of comfort, space and refinement making it one of the easiest and least aggravating premium SUVs to live with on a day-to-day basis.
‘As high-end as you’d expect from a $50,000+ Mercedes. The trunk’s massive, too’
Unsurprisingly, the Mercedes-Benz GLE doesn’t disappoint when it comes to interior fit-and-finish. Though rivals like the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Range Rover Sport have a slight overall edge, the high-grade materials and quality of construction are hard to fault in the Mercedes. Space for passengers is also very impressive, with lots of head, shoulder and leg room available in the front and back seats, and the infotainment system works a treat too. Better still, the Mercedes-Benz GLE is even more adept as a cargo carrier: with capacities of 38.2 and 80.3 cubic feet with the rear seat backs up and down respectively, the GLE has one of the biggest trunks you’ll find in this class.
‘An ideal long-distance highway cruiser. Shame about the limited visibility, though’
Much like a majority of Mercedes’ road cars, the GLE SUV adopts a more comfort-oriented approach to the ride/handling balance. Though it’s far from being unresponsive and unwieldy, the supple ride, supportive seats and impressive wind noise suppression make the Mercedes a very relaxing car to drive. Firmer AMG models are also available for those who want a racier Mercedes-Benz GLE, but it should be noted that some rivals do offer a sportier drive. A combination of a large windshield and a high driving position means the view out front is very good – though the small side mirrors, high waistline and thick rear pillars does make it difficult to see out back and around the Mercedes-Benz GLE from the driver’s seat. It’s also worth pointing out that the base rear-wheel drive car should be avoided if you regularly need to tow heavier loads.
‘Pretty much every engine option you could ever need in a premium SUV’
A broad array of engines are available for the Mercedes-Benz GLE, though most buyers are likely to specify the base 3.5-liter six-cylinder gasoline engine with either rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive (all other engines only come with all-wheel drive). Though not the strongest in the class, the six-cylinder is still potent enough for day-to-day use, and economy is also pretty good. Those wanting more efficiency can opt for a plug-in hybrid setup, whilst performance addicts have a 3.0-liter six-cylinder and two- 4.0-liter eight-cylinder AMG-branded gasoline engines to choose from. All Mercedes-Benz GLE variants are only available with a slick-shifting automatic transmission.
‘Relatively affordable by class standards, though options packages can be quite pricey’
As expected for a vehicle with a base price of $52,200, the Mercedes-Benz GLE comes with a satisfactory amount of equipment as standard. All models get climate control, heated front seats, brake assist a reversing camera and a parking assist as standard, with all but the most basic version features built-in navigation and a very handy blind spot monitoring system. The aforementioned safety equipment all contributed to the Mercedes-Benz GLE being presented with the NHTSA’s highest crash test rating. Other convenience and safety equipment features can also be added as options, though many of these packages are on the pricey side.
With its blend of comfort, refinement, quality and space, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a vehicle we definitely feel premium SUV buyers should shortlist .More responsive, fuel efficient and affordable offerings are available in this class but, as an overall package, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class remains rather impressive.