2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE offers drivers two body styles and a wide range of engines. There’s a traditional SUV, and a slope-roofed model dubbed the Coupe.
Descended from the old M-Class, the GLE debuted as a 2016 model. In advance of a new edition coming for 2020, the biggest change for the 2019 model year is a new engine. Equipped with 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, the 2019 GLE 400 replaces the previous GLE 350. The AMG GLE 43 edition now holds a 385-horsepower version of the V-6. GLE 63 coupes can now have brown ash/anthracite poplar wood trim.
Four SUV trim levels are offered, each with its own powertrain: GLE 400, plus three high-performance AMG variants: GLE 43, GLE 63, and GLE 63 S. Coupes come only in AMG GLE 63 and 63 S form.
In the renamed GLE 400, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 makes 329 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (versus 302 hp and 273 pound-feet from the prior 3.5-liter V-6). Accelerating to 60 mpg takes about 5.9 seconds. The smooth 7-speed automatic transmission incorporates paddle shifters.
The AMG GLE 43 gets a 385-horsepower version of the 3.0-liter V-6, rated at 384 pound-feet, reducing 0-60 time to 5.6 seconds.
Topping the performance charts are two V-8-powered AMG models: GLE 63 and GLE 63 S. The twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8 whips out 550 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque in the GLE 63, or 577 hp and 561 pound-feet in the S variant. Acceleration to 60 mph is just a hair above 4 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz also offers a GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV, which adds electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack to the gasoline V-6. Driving range on battery power alone is about 10 miles. Charging takes about two hours at household-outlet.
Crash-testing by the IIHS resulted in “Good” ratings throughout. The NHTSA has not yet tested the 2019 GLE. Available safety features include blind-spot monitors, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic emergency braking.
Prices do not include $995 destination charge.
GLE 400 V-6 SUV ($55,700) comes with synthetic leather upholstery, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 19-inch wheels.
GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV ($66,300) has air springs, adaptive dampers, active roll stabilization, navigation, leather upholstery, and a safety technology group.
AMG GLE 43 V-6 SUV ($68,150) includes a 385-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6, with an AMG-enhanced 9-speed automatic, AMG performance all-wheel drive, and AMG sport air suspension.
AMG GLE 63 V-8 SUV ($103,050) moves up to a 550-hp, 5.5-liter V-8, with 7-speed automatic, parking assist, and a surround-view camera system.
AMG GLE 63 S V-8 SUV ($110,200) gets a boost to 577 horsepower.
AMG GLE 43 V-6 Coupe ($71,350) is equipped similar to AMG GLE 43 SUV, with 3.0-liter V-6. Blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping assist are standard, along with a direct-steering system, adaptive damping, a panoramic sunroof, and active LED headlights.
AMG GLE 63 S V-8 Coupe ($113,000) is equipped similar to AMG GLE 63 S SUV, with a 577-horsepower V-8. Included are an active suspension with roll stabilization, carbon-fiber engine cover, and an AMG 7-speed automatic transmission.
The 2019 GLE, whether “coupe” or wagon, has a style that blends in neatly with the rest of the Mercedes family. Almost carlike in shape, with design details that blend together well, the GLE is especially enticing in Coupe form.
Sitting within a large grille, between muscular-shaped fenders, is a prominent Mercedes-Benz three-pointed-star logo. Coupe and SUV bodies share basic styling, but otherwise differ in details. The wagon-shaped crossover SUV rides on large wheels and features metal side steps. In addition to a sharply-sloping roofline that yields a quasi-fastback profile, Coupes have a small rear spoiler.
The 2019 Benz GLE boasts an opulent interior with sport seats, a somewhat small steering wheel, and a wide infotainment screen.
Superior in fit and finish, each GLE has enough space for five average-size adults, but four will fare better, especially in a Coupe. Synthetic leather is standard in base models, and it’s a good substitute for the real thing.
AMG versions include a specific steering wheel and aluminum trim. Seats offer heavier bolstering and more adjustment angles.
Comfortable front seats provide abundant support, contoured in appropriate places. Three rear passengers might have trouble squeezing onto the seat, though taller riders should be comfortable enough in the SUV. Back-seat headroom is clearly constricted in the Coupe, though leg space is not.
Cargo space is good, but less so in Coupes. An SUV has 38.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, expanding to 80.3 with rear seatbacks folded. Coupes have only 23 cubic feet behind the back seat and 60.7 with seatbacks folded, though the cargo floor is flat and wide.
Performance is where the GLE shines most brightly. Even in base GLE 400 form, the 329-horsepower V-6 and 7-speed automatic transmission provide lively acceleration, promising a responsive driving experience. AMG models are breathtaking, with the top GLE 63 S version capable of 0-60 mpg acceleration in 4.1 seconds.
Achieving peak performance from the GLE 550e hybrid requires selecting the best driving mode. Still, its electric motor quickens acceleration impressively, to a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds.
In any form, ride quality is composed, refined, and quiet. In its Comfort drive mode, the GLE requires more steering adjustments to remain centered. Sport mode is more settled. AMG models have added a Sport+ mode.
Acceptably rugged, GLEs perform well off-road. The base coil-spring suspension yields a stiff, SUV-like ride, but adaptive dampers and air springs soften its manners. AMG models have a different all-wheel-drive system, but both setups can transfer power almost totally to the rear wheels for greater traction.
As expected, fuel economy is best with the base GLE 400, EPA-rated at 17/23 mpg City/Highway, 20 Combined. The GLE 43 is EPA-rated at 17/22/19 mpg. The AMG versions are EPA-rated at 12/18/14 mpg for the GLE 63, and 14/18/15 mpg for the GLE 63 S.
Several good reasons account for the GLE’s status as one of Mercedes-Benz’s best-selling models, topped by performance. Even in base form, the crossover and Coupe are well-equipped. Coupes have traded some utility for style, with their sloping roofline. Prices are on the high side, especially for AMG editions. Even so, the top choice might be an AMG GLE 43, considering its blend of power, handling talent, and ride comfort.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.