2018 GLE 350 New Car Test Drive
As the 2016 model year began, Mercedes-Benz took its M-Class family SUV, modified the body and interior, and changed its model designation to GLE. Not only the name, but the new front end, brought this luxury utility vehicle in accord with the rest of the lineup.
For 2017, the turbodiesel variant was dropped, but a plug-in hybrid remains, along with a quartet of gasoline engines. The off-road option package also faded away. A rearview camera is newly standard, as is 4G LTE wi-fi. Otherwise, except for new gray and blue body colors, little has changed.
Five distinct versions are available: GLE350, plug-in GLE550e, and three Mercedes-AMG variants: GLE43, GLE63, and GLE63 S. Each blends a handsome body with a quiet ride.
In addition to models with the conventional SUV body, the lineup includes two versions of Mercedes-Benz's more audacious four-door coupe body style.
Each trim level gets a different engine. The base GLE350 holds a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Mating with a 7-speed automatic transmission, the GLE350 can have either rear-drive or all-wheel drive. All other versions come only with 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Next in line, the new Mercedes-AMG GLE43 gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that develops 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet, with a 9-speed automatic.
Topping the performance scale are two Mercedes-AMG models with twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 engines. In the GLE63, the V8 generates 550 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The GLE63 S contains a 577-horsepower rendition that issues 559 pound-feet. Acceleration to 60 mph is achieved in approximately 4 seconds.
Beneath the hood of the plug-in GLE550e is a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 rated at 329 horsepower, coupled to a hybrid unit that develops 114 horsepower. Total hybrid-system output comes to 436 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. The GLE550e can travel up to 19 miles on electricity alone. Four driving modes are available. Recharging of the 8.8-kWh battery, using a 220-volt charger, takes about two hours.
Although the federal government has not crash-tested the GLE, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it Good ratings in each category, with a Top Safety Pick+ award. Advanced safety features were dubbed Superior.
Plenty of advanced safety technology is available, but most items are offered in costly option packages. Attention Assist (drowsiness detection) is standard.
GLE350 ($52,000) includes the 302-horsepower engine, sunroof, power liftgate, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, 19-inch wheels, keyless ignition, rearview camera, 8.0-inch display, and parking sensors. All-wheel drive adds $2,500. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $925 destination charge.)
GLE400 ($65,650), with a 329-horsepower V6, faded away during the 2017 model year.
Mercedes-AMG GLE43 ($67,150) comes with the 362-horsepower V6, all-wheel drive, and 9-speed automatic.
Mercedes-AMG GLE43 Coupe ($69,650) features a sport steering system, air suspension with continuously variable adaptive damping, Active Curve System with active roll stabilization, and AMG sport front seats.
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 ($101,690) gets the handcrafted 550-horsepower V8, plus parking assist and a surround-view camera system.
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S ($108,840) is similar to GLE63, but with a 577-horsepower V8.
Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S Coupe ($110,650) is equipped similar to regular SUV with the 577-horsepower V8.
GLE550e plug-in hybrid ($66,300) adds leather seating, \adaptive suspension, Harman Kardon Logic7 sound, and COMAND navigation with an 8.0-inch screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Active-safety features include lane tracking and lane-keeping assist.