What is the Mercedes-Benz GLE?
The Mercedes GLE is a large SUV – equivalent to the E-Class Saloon and Estate cars in the Mercedes-Benz range.
This second-generation model (W167) launched in 2019, and is absolutely crammed with high-tech equipment; although not all of it comes fitted as standard, the initial UK range is limited to AMG Line trim only, which is pretty fancy.
Key rival models are the BMW X5, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Land Rover Discovery and Porsche Cayenne.
- Top speed: 140-155mph
- 0-62mph: 5.7-7.2 seconds
- Fuel economy: 26.2-39.2mpg
- Emissions: 162-214g/km CO2
- Boot space: 630-2,055 litres
Which versions of the Mercedes-Benz GLE are available?
The Mk2 GLE is only available in the one large SUV body style at present; though an updated coupe may follow, currently the old version (C292) is soldiering on.
Still, the second-gen GLE is available with seven seats when the first-gen model was limited to five – in fact, only the entry-level GLE 300 d engine gets a five-seater variant.
This 245hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel is joined in the range by the 350 d and 400 d – which both use 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel engines, providing 272hp and 330hp, respectively.
You can also buy a GLE 450; this is a 3.0-litre straight-six turbo petrol with EQ Boost hybrid system – which in performance term means you get a nominal 367hp plus another 22hp from the electric motor, primarily focused enhancing low-speed response.
All UK models are AMG Line at launch, with the option to enhance this with a Premium pack and a Premium Plus pack if you want to easily upgrade the amount of standard equipment.
Naturally, there is an extensive options list as well, and Mercedes-AMG high-performance variants will become available in due course.
Mercedes-Benz GLE styling and engineering
The previous Mercedes GLE was an evolution of the old M-Class, and had become rather ungainly. This second-generation model is a clean sheet design, and very sleek and modern as a result.
In fact, in many ways it epitomises modern Mercedes-Benz, as in addition to the svelte exterior there is an interior that’s dominated (on AMG Line, at least) by twin 12.3-inch digital screens – one for the instrument cluster and one of the MBUX infotainment system.
These are positioned in parallel so they look like one giant display. It makes a sensational impression. The ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control system is also a nice feature, though it and the gesture control options both feel like they need a little further refinement.
Unsurprisingly, this is also a very spacious car, though access to the rear-most seating row is tight, ensuring it’s best-suited to nimble children.
Is the Mercedes-Benz GLE good to drive?
There are some surprisingly sporty cars in the GLE’s list of potential rivals – the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne in particular.
But Mercedes has elected to largely dodge that bullet by pointing its large SUV in the more sensible direction of comfort – something that it does very well.
This is especially the case where the Airmatic air suspension is fitted; sadly Airmatic isn’t available on the 300 d, which is likely to be the biggest seller.
Speaking of the 300 d, despite being one of Mercedes’ most modern diesel engines, it still sounds a little gruff; the bigger, six-cylinder motors are smoother and quieter, and worth the additional outlay if you can afford them.
The standard-fit nine-speed automatic gearbox works well, and every GLE gets 4Matic four-wheel drive, which can be enhanced by an Off-Road package if you’re really keen on ruining that expensive bodywork.
Watch our Mercedes-Benz GLE video review
How much does the Mercedes-Benz GLE cost?
Mercedes-Benz is a premium brand that commands premium prices, and the GLE is typical in that it’s usually just that bit more expensive than an equivalent Audi Q7 or BMW X5.
Finance pricing is also on the high side – although it is a very new vehicle at the time of writing, so this to be expected. PCP and PCH bargain hunters are better off looking at the Q7, though.
Want to find out what other buyers think? Read our comprehensive Mercedes-Benz GLE owner’s reviews.
Mercedes-Benz GLE Model History
Current generation Mercedes-Benz GLE
Spring 2019 – First deliveries of Mercedes-Benz GLE take place. Only one trim (AMG Line) and two engines (GLE 300 d 4Matic and GLE 450 4Matic) are available, both coming with all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.
First-generation Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015-2019)
The Mk1 Mercedes GLE was basically a renamed M-Class, and is identified by the same W166 Mercedes model number. A vehicle that already felt out-classed by its closest rivals, the name change didn’t radically alter its position relative to the rest of the large SUV class.
The problem was, the first-gen GLE just didn’t feel modern Mercedes enough. The driving experience was ponderous, and although spacious, the quality of the five-seater interior wasn’t as good as it should have been for the cost.
As such, the first-gen GLE always felt a bit of a poor relation to the smaller but newer GLC model below it in the Mercedes SUV range and the immense seven-seater GL model above it.
Engine choice included older Mercedes diesels, a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid badged GLE 500e – which was probably pick of the range, even if the diesels delivered better real-world mpg – plus some high-performance AMG variant.
The AMGs were amusing, but not always for the right reasons. If you’re expecting dynamic capability in the manner of a contemporary Porsche Cayenne, think again…
Design-wise, things did get livelier with the introduction of the GLE Coupe shortly after the regular GLE was launched in 2015. But although this looks exciting, it’s still not great to drive.
Find out what drivers think via our comprehensive owner’s reviews, and browse hundreds of examples for sale.