2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Review

GLE-Class

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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Overview

Not content with a mere upgrading of its legendary M-Class sport-ute lineup, Mercedes-Benz has rebranded this midsize SUV into the GLE-Class for 2016. Oh sure, it’s still a luxury-laden 5-door, 5-passenger utility vehicle with some 80-odd cubic feet of cargo-toting acreage (with the rear seatbacks folded), and it still boasts impressive power and performance attributes, not to mention available all-wheel-drive (AWD) capability, but more than just the name has changed for this classy conveyance.

The trim lineup might look vaguely familiar, including, as it does, the entry-level GLE350 and the AWD-only GLE400. For the upcoming year, expect the turbodiesel-packing GLE300d and the plug-in hybrid GLE55e to be added to the list, while the powerful AMG race-derived brand returns with the GLE63 AMG, which is slated to be joined by the even more potent GLE63 AMG S edition.

The powertrain lineup for the debuting GLE-Class, meanwhile, starts with the carry-over 3.5-liter normally aspirated V6 that comes standard in the entry-level GLE350. Look for 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque from this competent 6-cylinder mill under the management of the traditional 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission, with mileage equaling the current M-Class version’s 17 mpg city/22 highway/19 combined.

The GLE400 also reprises the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 powerplant of the current ML400 trim. Expect the newly branded GLE400’s engine to again combine with the 7-speed shiftable automatic for 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque, while mileage is expected to remain 18/22/20.

The brand new GLE300d packs a 2.0-liter turbodiesel inline 4-cylinder (I4) engine while retaining the ubiquitous 7-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Expect 201 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque from this over-the-top oil-burner, but mileage numbers have yet to be determined.

Moving up to the eco-friendly GLE550e, expect a 3.5-liter direct-injected (DI) normally aspirated hybrid gasoline engine to mate with a 114-hp plug-in-capable electric motor to boast 436 total hp and 479 total lb-ft of torque. The 7-speed shiftable automatic also graces this peppy plug-in hybrid, complemented by 4 selectable driving modes: E-Mode (all-electric), Hybrid, E-Save (running on battery power alone), and Charge. Regenerative braking, by the way, supplements the engine or the plug-in recharging options of the 8.8-kilowatt-per-hour (kWh) lithium-ion battery pack, while plug-in charging time using the available 240-volt system runs about 2 hours, while the standard 120-volt system will take significantly longer. Meanwhile, the folks at M-B claim some 18.6 miles of all-electric cruising at up to 81 mph, but thus far, estimated mileage numbers are unavailable.

Need more speed? The 2016 GLE63 AMG sports the departing ML63’s 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 powerplant that puts out 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, with the upcoming GLE63 AMG S getting 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque from a tweaked version of this potent V8. Oh, and both the GLE63 AMG and its S-designated sub-trim pack a sportier version of the 7-speed shiftable automatic for some stick-shift-like moves up and down the gears. Again, there’s no word on mileage for either variant of the turbo V8.

Goodie-wise, look for the newly upgraded profile of the 2016 GLE-Class to be further enhanced by larger (20-inch) lightweight alloy wheels, while creature comforts such as standard leatherette upholstery and a revamped dashboard with a modernized instrument cluster maintain the German automaker’s reputation for state-of-the-art luxury. High-end standard techno-features like GPS navigation, mbrace2 infotainment, and premium audio systems are also expected to return in the 2016 GLE-Class lineup.

Among the optional bells and whistles scheduled to grace this recently unveiled Mercedes are such traditional items as rear-seat DVD entertainment, upgraded appearance features, and the choice of either a Harman Kardon or Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade to meet or exceed your entertainment expectations.

Mercedes also says a number of optional advanced safety systems will be available to the debuting 2016 GLE-Class. Expect improved blind-spot warnings, as well as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, pedestrian alerts, rear cross-traffic warnings, and automatic emergency braking to complement the usual antilock braking (ABS), traction and stability control, side-mounted and head curtain airbags, and mbrace2 safety telematics.

The current Mercedes-Benz M-Class gets a perfect 5-star crash test rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also giving the 2015 version of this midsize SUV its highest rating of Good in all categories.

Owners of the various current M-Class trims laud its ride and its luxurious amenities, with those shelling out for the turbocharged trims also giving kudos for the added acceleration and performance. Meantime, look for next year’s M-replacing GLE-Class to begin showing up at dealerships in the late summer of 2015.

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Have Laptop. Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.

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