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2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class arrived on the scene in 2016, but in reality, was a refresh of the 2012-2015 M-Class with a nomenclature change. But with that, Mercedes-Benz did change quite a bit: restyled front and rear fascias, new powertrains and an updated technology stack. For 2018, the GLE-Class remains a competitive luxury SUV with a few new and reconfigured options.
The GLE-Class is a midsized, five-passenger crossover available in two body-styles, the square-roofed SUV version and a sleeker four-door-coupe called the GLE-Class Coupe. With either body-style, the wheelbases and cargo measurements are within inches of competitors.
Mercedes-Benz splits the GLE-Class up by gamut-spanning powertrains. The GLE 350 gets a 302 horsepower 273 pound-feet 3.5-liter 6-cylinder, and is available either with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or the automaker’s advanced “4MATIC” all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Both drivetrains are paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission, and the combination is good for 18 mpg city, 23 highway, and 20 combined (on premium fuel), and a 7.5-second 0-to-60 time.
Next up, the GLE 550e plug-in hybrid combines a 3.0-liter biturbo 6-cylinder with a 7-speed automatic, battery, and an electric motor. Power jumps to 436 combined hp and 479 combined lb-ft of torque, and the run to 60 mph shrinks to 5.3 seconds. For fuel economy, GLE 550e rates an estimated 39, 50, and 43 MPGe in gas-electric and 20, 23, and 21 in gas mode, reasonable for an engine that performs like an 8-cylinder. The vehicle reaches up to 10 miles of all-electric range and a total range of 460 miles.
From here, Mercedes-Benz turns to its AMG sport division for the top two powertrains on the SUV body-style and the only available for the coupe. This starts with the AMG GLE 43, whose AMG-tuned 3.0-liter biturbo 6-cylinder puts out 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, and it can hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. The AMG GLE 43 gets additional upgrades, including an AMG-developed 9-speed automatic transmission, tuned adaptable air suspension, performance brakes, aggressively-styled front and rear clips, and exclusive wheel options. The 17, 23, and 19 mpg figures are decent, given the performance.
For the ultimate in performance, there’s the AMG GLE 63. It gets the only 8-cylinder in the lineup, a 5.5-liter biturbo 8-cylinder that generates 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, paired to a 7-speed automatic. Fuel economy rates an estimated 14, 18, and 15—a significant drop—but the AMG GLE 63 can hit 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds. Buyers who crave more power can select the AMG GLE 63 S that bumps horsepower to 577 hp and torque to 561 lb-ft.
Aesthetically, the AMG 63 is more subtle than the AMG GLE 43, but there’s no mistaking this for anything other than a hot-rod on stilts.
Across all powertrains, the GLE-Class places an emphasis on composure and capability in a way that competitors do not. All variants are rated to tow, from 4,410 lbs on the GLE 550e, to 6,600 lbs on the GLE 350 RWD, and 7,200 on all other models. The GLE-Class comes equipped with Comfort, Slippery, Sport, and Individual modes, which fine-tune the powertrain, suspension, and steering settings; the AMG variants get an exclusive Sport+ mode plus active roll-bars to change the chassis dynamics on-the-fly.
The GLE-Class interior, with expanses of black plastic and grids of buttons, is handsome. The brand’s leatherette upholstery, MB-Tex, is standard; leather upholstery is optional. Each is available in upscale hues with well-matched contrast stitching. There are a number of trim finishes, from high-gloss or open-pore wood to carbon-fiber on the AMG lines. The high-resolution COMAND infotainment screen sits front-and-center on the dashboard and is manipulated by a controller in the center console. In all but the most basic configurations, it includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The second-row seating is all-day comfortable for three people, with plenty of room to stretch out and the same soft-touch materials as in the first row.
The GLE-Class is available with all of the technology upgrades you might expect for a vehicle in this class, including soft-close doors, sound-system upgrades, and massaging seats. The GLE-Class also offers a full suite of autonomous driving aids, like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and a parking pilot. One interesting option is Magic Vision Control—proprietary heated wiper blades that spray a precise amount of fluid directly in front of each wiper.
Mercedes-Benz dominance on the safety front is evident in the excellent ratings the GLE-Class is awarded in all crash categories, and its Top Safety Pick certification by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It receives a superior score for front crash prevention with the optional driving suite of driving aids.
The GLE-Class features and performance are current, and the timeless design still feels fresh.
Kyree is new to the automotive journalism scene, but has voiced snarky public opinions about cars for quite some time. When he's not drooling over the latest European luxury sled, he's designing web experiences or writing backend code.
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