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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Overview
For 2020, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Class goes into its all-new fourth generation. The GLE started out as the M-Class in the late 1990s and was the first Mercedes model built in America. It quickly became one of the company’s best-selling models, but the last version lagged behind its rivals in a few key areas. The 2020 model introduces several advanced features and new technology, more performance and efficiency, and more size and space. For now, buyers will have the choice of two trims: the GLE 350, available with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) or the GLE 450, which comes standard with AWD. Additional versions, including a sporty AMG and a plug-in hybrid, are likely to follow.
The base model GLE 350 gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine rated at 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, driving through either the rear wheels only or through Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC AWD system. The GLE 450, which only comes with 4MATIC, gets a new 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-6 engine that makes 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The GLE 450 also gets a 48-volt starter/generator system that adds 21 hp to the output of the gasoline engine. Regardless of engine choice, the 2020 GLE gets a 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy figures aren’t available as of this writing.
Even though the GLE mostly looks like a suburb cruiser, some serious engineering went into making it capable off road as well. While the GLE 350 features conventional steel springs underneath, the GLE 450 is available with the cutting-edge E-Active Body Control system, something Mercedes calls the “world’s most intelligent SUV suspension.” Powered in part by the 48-volt battery, the system can adjust spring and damping forces at each individual wheel, and should the vehicle gets stuck, the system can help rock the GLE free by raising and lowering the suspension level.
Compared to the outgoing GLE, the new fourth-generation model has a wheelbase over three inches longer. Wheel sizes range from 19 to 22 inches, and while a proper performance-oriented AMG model hasn’t been announced yet, the standard GLE can be ordered with an aggressive-looking AMG Line body kit.
The extra space in the new GLE allows for optional third-row seats, which weren’t available on the previous model. The available panoramic sunroof also allows for 50 percent more visibility, and the head-up display (HUD) is larger than before. Other options include four-zone climate control and wireless device charging. In front of the driver is the dual 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, while another 12.3-inch touchscreen dominates the dashboard. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and five USB ports come standard. The infotainment interface, dubbed Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), features voice control and natural-language understanding, and in the GLE it comes with a new Interior Assistant feature, which recognizes hand and arm movements. Standard safety features include stop-and-go assist, blind-spot assist, active parking assist, and forward cross-traffic alert. The 2020 GLE Class hasn’t been crash tested yet, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the previous generation of the GLE Top Safety Pick status.
The 2020 GLE competes against recent redesigns of its key rivals, the BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne, and Audi Q7. Nevertheless, it comes out looking very fresh, with advanced technology under the skin and throughout the interior. And with additional GLE models likely arriving in the near future, we have even more to look forward to from Mercedes-Benz.
Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.
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