Mercedes GLE review
The Mercedes GLE offers seven seats and the best cabin in its class, but it’s not cheap
Mercedes has improved its best-selling SUV, with a subtle but effective styling makeover and what we believe to be the best interior in its class. AMG Line is the only trim available in the UK, and while this makes it an attractive prospect – both in terms of styling and specification – it also means that it’s an expensive car to buy. Seven seats are standard on all but the entry-level model, while all models are fitted with four-wheel drive and a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission. Thanks to a perfectly executed cabin and impressive tech, the GLE sits near the very top of the class, but it won’t be cheap to run.
Nobody builds more SUVs than Mercedes, and the GLE is the German brand’s most popular model. It’s one of nine SUVs offered by the firm; the GLE sits between the GLC and GLS in the range alongside the GLE Coupe.
Mercedes practically invented the premium SUV segment when it launched the M-Class in 1997 as a direct rival to the Range Rover. This in turn became the GLE-Class when the vehicle was facelifted in 2015. Since then, Mercedes has sold more than two million units of its mid-range SUV.
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It’s a hotly contested segment, with the GLE going into battle against heavyweights such as the BMW X5, Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. Prices start from around £57,000 for the entry-level GLE 300 d, rising to £70,500 for a top-spec GLE 450. Go-faster AMG models will be even more expensive when they arrive.
So it’s not cheap, but the high price is offset by the trim levels, with AMG Line and AMG Line Premium the only specifications offered in the UK. This means the likes of 20-inch alloy wheels, LED front and rear lights, AMG body styling, Nappa leather, two 12.3-inch touchscreen displays, MBUX multimedia system, DAB radio and heated front seats are all fitted as standard.
Mercedes also offers a range of options packs, including the seven-seat equipment line for around £2,000. This comprises a third row of seats, additional USB ports, four-zone climate control and electric second row seats. This pack is standard on all except the 300 d.
Also standard are a nine-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC four-wheel drive, while Airmatic air suspension is standard on all but the entry-level 300 d four-cylinder diesel.
Three diesel engines are available – one 2.0-litre four-cylinder and two 3.0-litre six-cylinder units – along with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol with mild hybrid technology. All offer more than adequate performance, especially if you opt for the 400 d and 450 petrol, which will sprint from 0-62mph in 5.8 and 5.7 seconds respectively.
While the styling is softer and less aggressive than before, it’s the interior that is the most impressive. Mercedes has blended leather, open-pore wood and aluminium accents to create the best cabin in its class and an interior that could grace a car costing upwards of £100,000.
The two 12.3-inch screens combine to create a single ultra-wide display, with the front and middle row passengers free to bask in S-Class-like levels of space. The space in the third row of seats is less impressive, making this more of a 5+2 SUV rather than an authentic seven-seater. A Land Rover Discovery or Volvo XC90 remain better options in this regard.
But this doesn’t detract from an otherwise impressive overall package. Few cars offer this level of comfort, while the AMG Line trim means that nobody is going to feel short-changed by the GLE. Overall, it’s a big improvement over the old model.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Mercedes GLE offers seven seats and the best cabin in its class, but it’s not cheap
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Mercedes GLE majors on comfort, especially when riding on air suspension
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsExpensive to buy and expensive to run – the Mercedes GLE is not a cheap SUV
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Mercedes GLE is packed with technology and blessed with the best cabin in its class
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceSeven-seat practicality is welcome, but the GLE is at its best in five-seat mode
- 6Reliability and SafetyMercedes has improved its reliability record, and the GLE is packed with the latest safety equipment