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Parkers overall rating: 4.2 out of 5 4.2

Impressively tech-laden and desirable SUV

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV Review Video
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PROS

  • Cutting-edge interior
  • Excellent all-round comfort on air suspension
  • Added seven-seat practicality
  • Plug-in diesel hybrid on the way

CONS

  • Only two engines available from launch
  • Most of the hi-tech safety kit is optional
  • While manoeuvrable, it feels very big
  • Infotainment controls can be fiddly

At a glance

New price £55,135 - £68,075
Lease from new From £628 per month
Used price £39,270 - £57,570
Fuel economy 33 - 46 mpg
Road tax cost £465
Insurance group 44 - 48 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Cutting-edge interior
  • Excellent all-round comfort on air suspension
  • Added seven-seat practicality
  • Plug-in diesel hybrid on the way

CONS

  • Only two engines available from launch
  • Most of the hi-tech safety kit is optional
  • While manoeuvrable, it feels very big
  • Infotainment controls can be fiddly

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV rivals

Volvo
XC90
4.4 out of 5 4.4

The Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV is now in its second generation, yet its roots can be traced back far further. Previously named the M-Class (or ML), it was the German manufacturer’s first mainstream SUV when it launched back in 1997, pipping arch rivals BMW and Audi to the post with their X5 and Q7 equivalents. Now, however, the market is awash with SUVs, and the GLE can count cars such as the Volvo XC90, Lexus RX L and Land Rover Discovery as contemporaries. A capacious boot and reasonable road manners are no longer enough to guarantee success in this ever more crowded sector.

So, is the GLE worthy of its billing as an SUV equivalent to the excellent E-Class Saloon, and can it make its mark against a growing list of rivals? 

Hi-tech cabin sets the tone for future models

Dominated by two 12.3-inch screens, the GLE’s dashboard showcases the interior design language of future Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The dual-screen design has also featured in the A-Class Hatchback earlier in 2018, but this is the first time we’ve seen it translated into one of the brand’s larger products. The good news is that the overall effect is no less impressive - it has a more sophisticated look than the showy A-Class. The cabin both looks and feels of an excellent quality, boasting swathes of high-end materials and crisp, easy-on-the-eye screens displaying all of the car’s major functions.

Mercedes’ updated MBUX infotainment features, as does the 'Hey Mercedes' voice recognition feature and Interior Assist – the latter allowing the user to control functions by employing simple hand gestures. It’s not quite perfect, the main touchpad controller isn’t as easy to use as a rotary dial found in the BMW X5, while the smaller touchpads on the steering wheel can also be fiddly. 

Mercedes-Benz GLE AMG Line interior

Broad range of engines – but only two on offer initially

From launch the GLE was available with two engines – the 300 d and 450. The former is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 245hp, while the latter is a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol with 367hp. These were swiftly followed by a more powerful 350 d and 400 d with 272hp and 330hp from the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel unit.

AMG performance versions are also available, in AMG 53 and AMG 63 guises.

Of the current engines on offer, the 450 petrol version is smooth, punchy and refined but heavy on fuel, while the 300 d is much more economical, but gruff at low revs and not quite powerful enough in some situaions. The 400 d more than makes up for this, and we reckon it's a sweet spot in the range. Power delivery is strong and linear, while refinement is noticeably better than the 2.0-litre 300 d version.

Superb comfort on air suspension

When fitted with Airmatic air suspension, the GLE’s all-round ride comfort is very good. Large bumps and undulations are shrugged off with ease, while smaller imperfections are mostly ironed out. It can't quite match the silky ride comfort of a Range Rover Sport or a BMW X5, though. Refinement is impressive, too, with road and wind noise kept to a minimum.

And while the 300 d engine is noisier than we’d like at low revs, the 450 and 400 d versions are hushed throughout all but the top end of the rev range.

Mercedes GLE driving

Vast array of safety tech – much of it optional

Along with the impressive spread of equipment in the cabin, the GLE also has a number of clever safety aids designed to help the driver avoid accidents.

Standout features include Active Blindspot Assist (automatically changes the car’s path if it detects an imminent collision with a vehicle in its blindspot), Active Lane-change Assist (automatically changes lanes when the driver applies an indicator), Active Speed Limit Assist (automatically sets the cruise control to the prevailing speed limit) and route-based speed adjustment (adjusts the cars speed before bends, roundabouts or junctions).

However, all of the equipment listed above is part of the optional Driving Assistance package and not standard on the GLE. If you’re buying new or used, try and ensure that this potentially life-saving kit is fitted to your car. 

Seven-seat practicality for the first time

For the first time, this generation GLE features a seven-seat option, although earlier M-Classes had this additional flexibility on offer. Optional on the 300 d and standard-fit on all other models – apart from the plug-in hybrid version – this addition brings the GLE in-line with rivals such as the Volvo XC90, BMW X5 and Audi Q7.

However, access to the rearmost seats is a little tricky thanks to a narrow entry between the folded second row seat and door frame, while legroom in the third row is tight and best suited to children. All the seats fold electrically, however, meaning the conversion from five-seater to seven-seater can be done without using both hands.

Meanwhile, there’s generous amounts of room if you’re sitting in the second row, while the boot is of a competitive size. In two-seat mode, it’s capable of swallowing 2,055 litres – more than any of its rivals.

Need something a little smaller? Read our Mercedes-Benz GLC review

Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV rivals

Volvo
XC90
4.4 out of 5 4.4