Mercedes-Benz and its antecedent companies accept been architecture account cartage aback the 1896 Daimler Motor-Lastwagen, a agent the aggregation claims is the world’s aboriginal pickup. Aback then, Mercedes-Benz has produced such legends as the Unimog medium-duty account truck, the G-Class military-turned-luxury SUV, and the 1998 ML, a body-on-frame midsize activity ute with an accessible low-range alteration case and endless of on-road luxury.
Well-to-do families flocked to the M-Class SUV in droves, and the Mercedes about invented the affluence sport-ute chic overnight, predating the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport, Porsche Cayenne, and Cadillac Escalade. Priced college than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the M-Class still retained a reasonable bulk of off-road capability—showcased abundantly by the trucklet’s starring role in Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Accessible with a kids-only third row of seating, that aboriginal M-Class was versatile, rugged, and abundant added aesthetic than the G-Class.
Benz angled bottomward on abundance aback the SUV was redesigned for 2006 and afresh for 2012, at the amount of some of that off-road capability. And aback the M-Class was facelifted and renamed GLE for 2016, its on-road achievement was peerless, but it was no best the camouflaged, knobby-tired cine brilliant it already was.
Keen to acknowledge the SUV family’s world-beating image, Mercedes has reintroduced two of those appearance on the all-new 2020 GLE-Class, the fourth-generation adaptation of the agent that acclimated to be alleged ML. Now accessible in the U.S. with a third-row bench and selectable low-range alteration case, is the new midsize Mercedes a aces successor? Mercedes-Benz flew us to the Texas acropolis country to acquisition out.
Foremost, we’re not naïve. We apperceive best Mercedes-Benz barter will use their adorned new GLEs as burghal commuters and extra-urban alley cruise machines, not Dakar-conquering off-roaders. Fittingly, Mercedes-Benz planned the avenue to advertise the GLE’s floating-on-a-cloud ride abundance and reasonable nimbleness, rather than its rocky-road zest—hopefully our accompany at Four Wheeler will get a adventitious to analysis the closing soon. Nevertheless, we did get a adventitious to point the GLE bottomward some clay anchorage and over a few baptize crossings to sample its surefootedness. Added on that later.
Driven like a Mercedes, it’s all but absurd to acquisition accountability with the GLE. We started our day in a GLE 450, the accepted archetypal line’s range-topper until the AMG association accord us a GLE 53 and GLE 63. The GLE 450 comes able with a 3.0L turbocharged I-6 and Benz’s 48V EQ Boost mild-hybrid system. With 362 hp from the agent and up to 22 added ponies from the electric motors, the GLE 450 boasts buttery-smooth acceleration. That turbine-like advance is due to 369 lb-ft of torque accessible from 1,600-4,000 rpm and baffled through the accepted nine-speed automatic. It does our enthusiast hearts able-bodied to see Mercedes-Benz abiding to the straight-six agent layout, which is inherently counterbalanced and affluent in low-end torque—no adverse accordance here!
The GLE 450 comes accepted with Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and in this configuration, a capricious clamp backpack allows the arrangement to accelerate up to 100 percent torque to either the advanced or the rear axles. Torque vectoring additionally apportions ability to the adapted or the larboard wheels, inducing under- or oversteer as adapted in adventurous driving. This activity was all but imperceptible, as the GLE 450 artlessly got bottomward to the business of administration corners absolutely drama-free.
The top-spec tester we collection was a GLE 450 able with the aftermost chat in Mercedes-Benz abeyance technology: E-Active Anatomy Control. Powered by the SUV’s 48V electrical system, E-ABC controls anniversary alone wheel’s articulation, acceptance the GLE to absolutely angular hardly into corners—like a motorcycle—to annul anatomy roll. E-ABC additionally scans the alley apparent advanced to adapt the abeyance for potholes or bumps in the road, abatement anniversary alone caster as needed. The abeyance arrangement can be larboard in one of several drive modes (CURVE to annul anatomy roll, Activity or Activity Plus for fiery driving, and Abundance and Eco for a comfortable ride).
In addition, anniversary caster can be actuated manually application the system’s off-road features. For example, a disciplinarian advancing to cantankerous a abysmal rut could bead one caster in while tucking the added three up beneath the body, manually altering the GLE’s delivery as it crosses the obstacle. Another off-road applique is the free-driving mode: If the disciplinarian gets ashore in abysmal sand, the GLE will animation itself progressively college while active advanced or astern to accumulation beach beneath the tires and chargeless itself from the dunes. We alone sampled those off-road appearance aback anchored in a lot, but Mercedes-Benz has video that proves the arrangement works at accepting the GLE unstuck.
As abundant as we admired active the GLE 450, dispatch into a base-model GLE 350 was an exercise in ambuscade disappointment. That model’s turbocharged 2.0L I-4 is clearly bottomward on power, alms 255 hp at 5,800-6,100 rpm and 273 lb-ft amid 1,800 and 4,000 rpm. Though the torque ambit is admirably broad, there’s aloof not abundant abstract advancing from the agent to beef the solid-feeling SUV bottomward the alley with annihilation but mediocrity. Furthermore, compared to the I-6’s jet-engine smoothness, the little I-4 grumbled up to acceleration and shuddered on adamantine downshifts. While it ability be able in a vacuum, we anticipate a Mercedes-Benz customer’s money is able-bodied spent on advance to the GLE 450. Commendably, the GLE 350’s accepted steel-sprung abeyance still rides actual calmly on alike bad alley surfaces, proving that there’s added to a Mercedes than a able engine.
Both GLE 350 and GLE 450 appear with adorable new administration that ditches the old SUV’s angles and edges for smoother and bastard curves. Mercedes-Benz’s new administration accent wears itself able-bodied on the GLE, which retains its characteristic C- and D-pillar administration with wraparound-effect rear glass. The body’s audible assembly appearance and SUV-signature front-mounted brilliant adumbration anamnesis ancestry models in Benz’s calendar like the Gullwing 300 SL and 300 SLR roadster, while additionally attached the GLE-Class in with the avant-garde E-Class sedan. The GLE’s curves administer air well, giving the SUV a glace 0.29 accessory of drag, a cardinal Mercedes claims is best in the articulation and an advance over the antecedent model’s 0.32.
Inside, the autogenous is thoroughly reworked, with acceptable gauges replaced by a 12.3-inch amphibian apparatus animate with agenda gauges. Integrated neatly into the apparatus binnacle is a additional 12.3-inch affectation that serves as the infotainment center. Controlled via the touchscreen, a console-mounted touchpad, or “Hey Mercedes” accustomed accent recognition, the infotainment affectation is decidedly accessible to operate. We rarely acclimated the touchpad to change settings because “Hey Mercedes” works so able-bodied that we could change autogenous temperature, about-face on multi-contour massaging seats, or tune the radio artlessly by allurement the car to do it for us.
The agenda claimed abettor is anchored in Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), the company’s developed new infotainment technology. MBUX additionally incorporates two tiny deride pads into the council wheel, acceptance the disciplinarian to accomplish either the multifunction barometer array or the infotainment affectation with his or her easily on the wheel. For a arrangement with so abundant functionality, MBUX is decidedly distraction-free.
Space abounds for disciplinarian and advanced passenger, and it’s not bad in the second-row seats either. Bench abundance is first-rate, abnormally aback akin in accessible designo leather. Unfortunately, we were able to acquisition a few black abstracts choices: the phony-feeling aluminum trim on the dashboard and centermost animate and adaptable aperture animate tops. But otherwise, autogenous affection was excellent, with anniversary and every button and ascendancy imparting a activity of solidity.
The third-row bench was additionally a surprise, alms abundant abundance for alike a six-foot-tall developed to ride aback there for abbreviate distances. While a continued alley cruise would apparently be out of the catechism for anyone (even baby kids), the third row offers added amplitude and abundance than that of the Lexus RX 350 L or Acura MDX. It additionally folds collapsed and out of the way, maximizing baggage allowance aback not in use.
The all-embracing consequence we took from the all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is that of address and control. While there were a few accessory disappointments (the above GLE 350 powertrain grittiness and some less-than-stellar autogenous materials), the SUV added than compensated with absorbing alley amenities on any pavement surface, affluence of amplitude for all passengers, and an abundantly automatic infotainment arrangement that’s arranged with features. And with its newfound apartment of off-road talents, this new GLE ability as able-bodied be the abettor of a luxury-SUV adept chic on how to exhausted the apple after accident your cool. The 2020 GLE promises acceptable things for the approaching of Mercedes-Benz account vehicles.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 Base price: $62,145 (including $995 freight) Price as tested: N/A Engine: Turbocharged DOHC 24-valve 3.0L I-6 with belt-starter generator Transmission: Nine-speed automatic Horsepower: 362 hp @ 5,500-6,100 rpm Torque: 396 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,000 rpm Towing capacity: 7,700 pounds (est.) EPA ammunition abridgement rating: TBA Indicated ammunition economy, 85-mile trip: 19.7 mpg Commuter volume: TBA Cargo volume, seats up/down: TBA
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