The GLE is a mid-size 5 or 7-passenger luxury SUV that has been around since 1997, although under a different name. When it first debuted, it was known as the M-Class and later changed names to the GLE in 2015. It's currently in its fourth generation which debuted in 2019. For 2024, Mercedes-Benz introduces updates that include exterior/interior refinement, expanded technology, and a new HLE 450c plug-in hybrid model. The GLE is available as six different models: 350, 450, 450e, 580, AMG 53, and AMG 63.
The base GLE 350 comes with a 2.0L inline-4 turbo that generates 255 horsepower. The GLE 450 comes with a 3.0L inline-6 turbo that churns out 375 horsepower and the 450e pairs the 2.0L inline-4 turbo with plug-in hybrid technology to deliver 381 horsepower. GLE 580 generate 483 horsepower via a twin-turbocharged 4.0L V8. The AMG 53 models come with a 3.0L inline-6 turbo with hybrid assist that delivers 429 horsepower and the AMG 63 gets a twin-turbo 4.0L V8 with a mild-hybrid that pumps out 603 horsepower.
All models pair with a 9-speed automatic transmission, come standard with seating for five, and 4matic fully variable all-wheel drive. Prices start at $62,650 for the 350 and $69,500 for the 450 and 450e models. AMG models start at $86,750. Add in some options and you'll approach $100,000. Competition includes vehicles like the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Genesis GV80, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX, Porsche Cayenne, Lincoln Aviator, and Volvo XC90. I spent a week in a 2024 GLE 450 with a price tag of $97,505 and here's what stood out...Refinement (+)
Immediate first impressions of this vehicle scream luxury. It's evident all-around that this SUV is built with precision. From the details on the front grille that is made up of tiny Mercedes stars to the cushioned, massaging seats inside, everything is well-built. There's no lack of luxury in this vehicle. Exterior Updates (+)
The styling changes are minimal, but effective. Up front is the aforementioned grille composed of tiny Mercedes stars that pair with changes to the lower fascia and updated multi-beam LED headlights. The new lights feature four light points with a horizontal light bar above it for a new lighting signature. Ambient lighting with animated projection of the Mercedes-Benz pattern is also available as a new optional extra. Two horizontal louvres with chrome inserts run through the radiator grille of the GLE. The grille of the outer air intakes has been given a horizontal chrome accent. The side profile remains the same and around back the taillights are also slightly updated with two horizontal shapes that illuminate. Fresh additions to the color palette include Twilight Blue Metallic and MANUFAKTUR Alpine Grey. Three new alloy wheels in 19- and 20-inch sizes complete the lineup of choices for the GLE. These feature a high-sheen finish and a five-twin-spoke design. Proportions are good all-around as it has an athletic stance with minimal overhangs, wide tires, and curves in all the right places. Powertrains (+)
There are a variety of powertrain options available, all of which now incorporate mild hybrid technology. Both the 350 and 450 have a 48-volt battery and integrated starter generator while the 450e is fully electric. I spent time in the 450 which comes with a 3.0L inline-6 turbo that delivers 375 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. Paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels, Mercedes-Benz claims the vehicle can go from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph. It's a good amount of power for a heavy SUV like this and it sounds good too. It has a nice refined low grumble at low RPMs that gets appropriately louder as you hit the accelerator. It shifts through the gears quickly to keep it moving through the paces.Handling/Ride Quality (+)
I had the chance to drive around town in Chicago and on a quick trip up to Michigan with some good highway drive time. It was incredibly smooth in every situation with enough athleticism to be engaging. It grips the road around twisty turns thanks to its wide tires and balanced suspension. The steering is well-weighted, brakes are strong, and the GLE absorbs every road imperfection. An adaptive suspension is standard, but you can add an adaptive air suspension to create an even more supple ride. The advanced air-suspension system leans into the corners and re-adjusts as you pick up speed. It's a perfect balance of performance and luxury to make every kind of drive enjoyable.Fuel Economy (+/-)
When it arrived with a full 22.5-gallon tank, the GLE offered a range of around 500 miles. EPA estimates are 19/26/22 MPG city/highway/combined. Premium fuel is required. After a week of mixed highway/suburban driving, I averaged 23.5 MPG. Overall fuel economy is slightly above average for the class.
Interior Comfort (+)
Hopping inside the new GLE is like stepping into a trendy spa. It balances modern style with high-end materials for a comfortable, sophisticated vibe. It offers a new steering wheel with sensor surfaces, MANUFAKTUR black piano lacquer flowing lines trim (from the Maybach GLS), massaging seats, heated/ventilated seats, and ambient lighting to set the mood. The layout of the dash is user-friendly with technology in reach, good placement for a mobile device and cupholders capable of holding larger units. My test GLE was also equipped with a panoramic roof that includes a large opening glass for a very airy cabin feel.
There is ample head, leg, and shoulder room in both rows of the five-passenger version (I have not been in a 7-passenger version). Synthetic leather is standard, but genuine leather is an available upgrade along with heated second-row seats, the third row, heated front armrests and heated & cooled cup holders. The power-adjustable drivers' seat offers a plethora of settings to find an ideal seating position for maximum comfort and visibility regardless of your size. The available massaging seats are a nice bonus with a variety of settings to keep you relaxed in the worst kind of traffic and reduce fatigue on longer road trips. An optional warmth and comfort package is a nice upgrade for Midwesterners as it includes rapid-heating front seats, armrests and door panels which will enhance comfort in colder weather. The cabin is also well-insulated to keep road noise out. Technology (+)
With the second generation MBUX infotainment system, the GLE interior becomes even more digital and intelligent, as both the hardware and software have made great improvements. Numerous vehicle and comfort functions can be controlled on the two infotainment screens. Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3" digital cluster that shares an extended display with a second 12.3" infotainment touchscreen. The digital cluster offers three aesthetically pleasing displays that include classic, sporty, and discreet along with four different modes (navigation, assistance, service, and off-road). Each display changes the lighting, visuals, and vibe inside and can be done via steering wheel controls.
The intuitive infotainment system wirelessly integrates with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and works seamlessly. There is also a touchpad on the center console for tactile interaction and navigation on the screen which I found myself preferring to traditional touch controls. Also available are voice controls via a voice assistant in which "Hey, Mercedes" is the initial command that is capable of learning. The command can activate phone calls, vehicle functions, lighting, audio, and climate. Finally, over-the-air updates allow the MBUX system to stay fully current without a visit to the dealership. Car Wash Mode (+)
As a former auto detailer, I prefer to always have a clean car. I've found many new luxury vehicles to be a challenge to take through an automatic car wash as the technology makes it complicated to leave the car in neutral or sets off a slew of electronic sensors and beeps as soon as the jets start spraying. None of this was an issue in the high-class GLE which has a 'car-wash mode'! The mode goes through all the checks to ensure all the windows and roof are closed, it folds in the side mirrors, and adjusts the GLE ride height before it shifts into neutral. I found this to be a great bonus feature that made this much easier to keep clean than a luxury vehicle like the Genesis.
The GLE has excellent cargo capacity among five-passenger models in the same class. There is 33.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 74.9 cubic feet of space with those seats folded flat. It's easy to access with a hands-free power tailgate and when equipped with the adaptive suspension, it can even be lowered for easier loading and unloading.Driver Assistance (+)
While the GLE comes with a fair amount of standard driver-assistance features that include the following, it was the upgraded driver assistance package features that impressed me the most. In particular, the available Stop & Go assist was a savior in Chicago traffic. The system worked so well in maintaining distance, lane placement, and smooth stop-and-go transitions that it almost made the traffic tolerable. Other available features in that package such as active steering assist, active lane change assist, and active speed limit assist were all beneficial for longer highway drives. Overall, the GLE has received the highest rating of good in all crash safety tests and a rating of superior for its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems.
Standard features include:
* Rearview camera
* Front and rear parking sensors
* Forward collision warning
* Forward automatic emergency braking
* Pedestrian detection
* Blind-spot monitoring
* Driver-attention monitoring
* Hands-free park assist
* Automatic high-beam headlights
* Rain-sensing windshield wipers
Driver Assistance Package Plus features ($1,950):
* Active distance assist
* Active steering assist
* Active lane change assist
* Active emergency stop assist
* Active speed limit assist
* Active brake assist with cross-traffic function
* Evasive steering assist
* Active lane keeping assist
* Active blind spot assist
* Pre-Safe Plus rear-end collision protection
* Route-based speed adaptation
* Active Stop-and-go assistFinal Statement
My first Mercedes-Benz review was a good one with the GLE. I was pleasantly surprised at how user-friendly the MBUX infotainment system is despite its intimidating "techy" looks. This is one of the most comfortable vehicles I've had the privilege of driving as it caters to the driver and passengers inside. The technology further enhances comfort with driver-assistance features, lighting, displays, and seat comfort that make this a hard contender to top. And to no surprise, its road manners are just as exquisite with even more economy thanks to hybrid integration. Be aware that the appealing starting price is just that (the start) as once you add in some of my favorite features of this SUV, you'll wind up adding almost $30k to the price. First Impression Summary:
Test Vehicle: 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE
MANUFAKTUR Cardinal Red MetallicInterior Color:
Catalina Beige / Black LeatherPowertrain:
3.0L Inline-6 turbo engine with mild-hybridOptions:
Paint ($1,750), Genuine Leather ($1,620), MANUFAKTUR black piano trim ($800), Roof spoiler ($685), Wood/Leather Steering Wheel ($600), Winter package ($450), AMG 5-spoke Wheels ($1,100), Panorama Sunroof ($1,000), Trailer hitch ($600), Trailer-maneuvering assist ($350), 4-zone climate ($860), Illuminated running boards ($650), heated rear seats ($500), Driver-assistance package ($1,950), Warmth & comfort package ($575), Night Package ($400), Acoustic comfort package ($1,100), AIRMATIC suspension ($1,710), AMG Line Exterior ($3,150), and Pinnacle trim ($5,600)MSRP as tested:
$97,505 (With Delivery/Destination)