Performance: GLE350/4-matic comes with the familiar 3.5-liter six-cylinder pumping out 302hp. GLE550e comes with a 3-liter bi-turbocharged six-cylinder plug-in hybrid pumping out 436hp. There are also three AMG variants available on the GLE. AMG GLE43 comes with a 3-liter bi-turbo six-cylinder pumping out 362hp, while the AMG GLE63 and 63 S come with a 5.5-liter bi-turbocharged eight-cylinder pumping out 550hp and 577hp. Pick of the range is the more reasonable GLE350 4-matic. We used to love the diesel engine that was offered but you’ll have to venture to Land Rover if you desire a diesel engine. The plug-in hybrid that took the diesel engine place seems like a decent choice if you find yourself driving more in the city driving than highway. The premium pricing associated with the plug-in hybrid however makes it pretty hard to justify.
On the road: You may think that the GLE is cushy thanks to the soft suspension set up. However, this is not the case here. The ride feels harsh over rough surfaces and does very little at faster pace. The X5 feels more composed. If you option for the air suspension system things will improve. The AMG fitted models have an overly firm ride but improves handling quite a bit. The engines are all smooth in operation. Road nose won’t be an issue however it’s sad that wind noise enters the cabin at speeds above 50mph.
Behind the wheel: The only complaints we have with the interior is the single stalk that is used for the turn signal and windshield wipers. Also touch screen infotainment system has too many menus that can be distracting to use on the go. Other than that the driving position is spot on. Interior for the most part is user friendly and visibility all round is decent.
Equipment: Our GLE350 4-matic we had as a tester car came kitted with the following optional equipment. Heated front seats, power tilt/sliding sunroof, dual-zone climate control and a rearview parking camera as well as power lift gate. It’s strange you’ll have to pay extra for many of these features considering how much the GLE350 4-matic costs. On top of those features added on, we also have to make note of the heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon premium sound system, premium 1 package and rear entertainment pre-wiring were added on as well. These features were also optional and pushed our GLE sticker price to $60k. We personally don’t mind having to pay extra for premium sound system or a sunroof but push button start, dual-zone climate control and LED headlights should at least be standard and not optional. Plus there were a few active safety features that aren’t even standard and quite expensive as an option.
Buying & owning: The GLE is slightly cheaper than the X5 but not by much. You’ll have to pay for the features that you’ll most likely want and that of course pushes the price much higher than you’d want to pay. If you have to have a Mercedes you’d be willing to dish out the premium but others will most likely venture elsewhere as it doesn’t really feel well justified – unless you are looking at one of AMG forms.
Quality: Despite the name change from ML to GLE, the interior just doesn’t feel any different from the ML. Many of the plastics and materials used are pretty much a carbon copy of the ML. We do love that quality wise of the materials have been improved but we just wish that with the new name that Mercedes dressed up the interior a little bit more.
Safety: The standard safety kit extends from seven airbags, attention assist which monitors driver fatigue and pop up bonnet for pedestrian safety. An anti-theft alarm system comes standard but Mercedes rejects deadlocks on the grounds of safety reasons.
Likes: Stylish inside out with generous cabin space, strong range of engines to choose from.
Dislikes: Add on the options watch the price sky rocket. Bi-xenon headlamps should be standard across the range rather than limited to just the AMG trims. Disappointing drive without air suspension fitted and that’s optional.
Our pick: The GLE350 4-matic comes with enough standard kit to make it our pick of the range. The more desired options you’ll have to pay for and that pushes the price way too steep for our taste. For that money you minus well get an AMG and have both the blistering performance and at least a few of those desired options ticked.