The GLE is a palpable step up from the compact GLC in terms of both size and luxury. And a well-equipped GLE like our $97,080 tester is a big upgrade from the base front-wheel-drive GLE 350 costing just under $55,000. Our version is so luxurious, you can be forgiven if you mistake it for the flagship GLS.
With massaging seats, supple leather, and a navigation system that incorporates augmented reality, our GLE tester boasts top-notch amenities. The cabin layout is virtually identical to the redesigned 2020 GLS, and the powertrain also takes after the flagship SUV, offering a familiar turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six making 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to a 48-volt electrical system and integrated starter generator, an extra 21 hp can be delivered for short periods of time like in the GLS. Press on the gas pedal with conviction (a soft touch may not suffice), and the GLE rewards you with linear power delivery. It accelerates quickly on demand, with smooth shifts from the nine-speed automatic transmission.
In our tests, the GLE hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, not bad at all for a 5,438-pound SUV. It’s 0.4 second quicker than a 5,473-pound Land Rover Discovery we tested with 340 hp, but 0.7 second slower than a more lightly contented 2019 BMW X5 with 335 hp. The quarter mile was a similar story. Clocking 14.3 seconds at 96.3 mph, the GLE was once again sandwiched between the X5 (13.7 seconds at 100.5 mph) and Discovery (14.7 seconds at 89.7 mph).
The GLE’s real strength is its ride quality. Equipped with an optional air suspension, our tester mitigates potholes and road imperfections so that you hardly notice them. It’s the automotive equivalent of airbrush makeup. That said, at times we experienced a bit more road noise than we would have expected on the highway. Its boxy proportions make for excellent forward visibility, although the large side pillar takes some time getting used to when changing lanes.
You won’t think you’re driving a big SUV when you need to come to a stop. The GLE managed to brake from 60 to 0 mph in an impressive 118 feet, the same distance it takes to stop a little Kia Forte sedan. That figure is also slightly ahead of the BMW (119 feet) and leaps ahead of the Discovery (137 feet). Our test team reported surprisingly little dive in the GLE. “Amazingly consistent with no odor or fade whatsoever,” road test editor Chris Walton noted after multiple brake tests in the GLE.
But not all tests can hide the GLE’s size. In the figure eight, the GLE logged 26.8 seconds at an average of 0.66 g, straddling the BMW’s time (25.8 seconds at 0.71 g) and the Land Rover’s time (28.9 seconds at 0.58 g). “Roll and pitch are significant, and the whole vehicle has a remoteness to it,” noted testing director Kim Reynolds. “A lot of understeer, but it’s mitigated by the stability control. Brake power is OK, but pedal feel is likewise remote.”
Predictably, fuel economy won’t knock your socks off. But it’s actually not that much lower than the four-cylinder version of the GLE. The six-cylinder Benz gets 19/24 mpg city/highway. A comparable X5 delivers better efficiency at 20/26 mpg, but the Discovery only nets 16/21 mpg.
Along with its steady ride, the interior is another major strength. Soft-close doors, 64-color ambient lighting, luxurious wood trim, heated and cooled cupholders, heated rear seats, heated front armrests and door panels, illuminated running boards, and a Burmester 3D surround sound system are just some of the amenities. The MBUX system with what Mercedes calls “natural language understanding” still has its hiccups with voice commands, but some impressive tech is baked in. With the augmented reality navigation system, street names, guiding arrows, and other info is superimposed onto the central display to help you find your destination more easily. For more on our thoughts about the GLE interior, read our separate article here.
We’ve driven a pre-production version, but we can’t wait to take a spin in the completed 2020 GLS. And it may sound strange to say, but we hope it takes after the GLE. Its confidence-inspiring ride, quick and smooth power delivery, and superior creature comforts make it a desirable pick in the midsize luxury SUV segment. If you want a third row, you’ll probably want to make the jump to the GLS, since the GLE’s optional third row is pretty small and is best suited for children.
|2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 4Matic|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$97,080|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||3.0L/362-hp/369-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6, plus 21-hp electric motor (362-hp comb)|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,438 lb (52/48%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||194.3 x 76.7 x 70.7 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.3 sec @ 96.3 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||118 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.8 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||19/24/21 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||177/140 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.93 lb/mile|
The post Tested: The 2020 Mercedes GLE 450 is Quick, Steady … and Almost $100,000 appeared first on MotorTrend.
Author: Kelly Pleskot