2017 GLE-Class New Car Test Drive
What was the M-Class (ML350, ML400, etc.) has been renamed GLE for the 2016 model year. This third-generation product was introduced for the 2012 model year, so it is now going into its fourth model year. Besides being renamed, it has been revised for 2016 and the lineup has been expanded to include a sporty new GLE Coupe.
Sounds confusing, but it's all part of Mercedes-Benz's decision to give its vehicles unified model designations. Launching the Coupe positions the GLE into closer alignment with BMW's shapely X5 and X6.
Apart from the addition of the Coupe, the GLE has been refreshed for 2016 with a revised instrument panel and subtle exterior styling. The more pronounced front end displays closer kinship to styling of other Mercedes-Benz models. Cabin appointments have adopted infotainment elements from sedans. New trim options include novel woodgrains and carbon fiber.
The 2016 GLE includes gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, diesel, and AMG versions. Diesels, formerly dubbed BlueTec, now get a d suffix. Hybrid models get an h, and plug-in hybrids an e.
The GLE300d comes with a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engine rated at 201 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A normally aspirated 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 goes into the GLE350, with rear- or 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The all-wheel-drive GLE400 4MATIC gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, generating 329 horsepower. Each of those engines mates with a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The new GLE550e plug-in hybrid has a 329-horsepower, direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 with a hybrid module, for total output of 436 horsepower. Able to travel up to 19 miles on electricity alone, it has four driving modes. Recharging its 8.8-kwh battery at 220 volts takes about two hours.
AMG GLE63's 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 develops 550 horsepower. Acceleration to 60 mph occurs as quickly as 4.2 seconds. Tow ratings for the GLE are as high as 7,700 pounds.
Two powertrains are offered for the GLE Coupe, both with 4MATIC four-wheel drive. The GLE450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe has a twin-turbo V6 rated at 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet, with a 9-speed automatic. The GLE63 S 4MATIC Coupe gets a 577-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 engine and 7-speed automatic.
GLE models may be fitted with COMAND connectivity and infotainment, displayed on an 8-inch screen. Harman Kardon and Bang & Olufsen audio systems are on the availability list as well as a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. A Parking package adds parking assist and surround-view cameras.
The 2016 GLE350 ($51,100) has the 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 and comes with heated power front seats, a power steering column, auto-dimming mirrors, Dynamic Select modes, keyless start with keypad, and a power liftgate. MB-Tex vinyl seating surfaces are standard, with leather an option. GLE350 4MATIC ($53,600) substitutes all-wheel drive for the standard GLE350 rear-drive layout.
GLE300d 4MATIC ($52,500) gets the 2.1-liter diesel engine and all-wheel drive.
GLE400 4MATIC ($64,600) has a 329-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel drive.
GLE550e a plug-in hybrid with a 329-horsepower V6 engine, battery pack and hybrid module, for 436-horsepower total output.
AMG GLE63 4MATIC ($99,950) unleashes a 550-horsepower V8 engine with 7-speed automatic transmission. AMG editions have their own unique content, including aluminum trim and intensely bolstered, perforated-leather sport seats. AMG GLE63 S 4MATIC ($107,100) gets a 557-horsepower version of the V8 engine.
GLE450 AMG 4MATIC Coupe ($65,100) is equipped with the 362-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6 engine and 9-speed automatic. A Stop/Start feature is included, along with a power liftgate, heated front seats, COMAND navigation, and Attention Assist. AMG GLE63 S 4MATIC Coupe ($109,300) has the 577-horsepower V8 and 7-speed automatic, with all-wheel drive. Nappa leather upholstery 14-way power front seats, and 22-inch wheels are standard.
Safety features include active cruise control with steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning with automatic braking.