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Used car tests

Used Mercedes GLE (Mk2, 2019-date) review: impressive Range Rover rival is packed with quality

A full used buyer's guide on the Mercedes GLE covering the GLE that's been on sale since 2019

Verdict

Mercedes has really got its act together since the M-Class arrived more than 25 years ago. The Mercedes GLE is far more hi-tech, and better to drive, plus it throws a higher-quality interior into the bargain. Except there are no bargains out there in GLE Land, so you’ll need deep pockets to buy and run one of these generously proportioned SUVs. Incredibly, the GLE is one of 13 SUVs in Mercedes’ model range, but it’s also one of the most popular. That is why there are more second-hand examples for sale than you might expect, one in six of which is a Coupé edition. Whichever version you opt for, you’re bound to love it. But check out some of the those rivals too, because there’s no shortage of talent in this segment.

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Mercedes was one of the first brands to embrace the SUV, with its 1979 G-Wagen. But this boxy 4x4 was no luxury car; it was built to tackle the roughest of terrain. 

It would be almost two more decades before the manufacturer introduced a road-biased SUV in the form of the ML, and although this was, in some ways, a big advance over the G-Wagen, it was clear that some cost cutting had taken place. 

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The Mk2 ML of 2005 was far better, while the Mk3 of 2012 was truly worthy of the Merc badge. This model was renamed GLE in 2015, with an all-new version taking over four years later, and by now one of many SUVs in the Mercedes model range.

History

The second-generation GLE hit UK roads in spring 2019. Buyers could pick between the 241bhp GLE 300 d with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, or the 362bhp GLE 450, with a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine and mild-hybrid technology. Almost immediately the 268bhp GLE 350 d and the 325bhp GLE 400 d were added to the range, with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, alongside the petrol-powered 429bhp AMG GLE 53. 

The 315bhp GLE 350 de diesel plug-in hybrid version arrived in summer 2020, alongside the 603bhp AMG GLE 63 S, plus a four-door coupé in GLE 400 d and AMG GLE 53 forms. A facelifted GLE went on sale in spring 2023. The regular SUV and the Coupé were both updated with revised exterior styling, a wider choice of interior trim colours and standard Airmatic air suspension, with mild-hybrid technology now fitted as standard to all engines.

Which one should I buy?

There are no lame ducks, but the most cost-effective GLEs tend to be the diesels. However, if you can charge at home and a lot of your journeys are fairly local, a GLE 350 de plug-in hybrid diesel could slash your fuel bills, and prices aren’t ridiculous. 

As you’d expect, Mercedes is generous with the standard kit; even the entry-level AMG Line has selectable driving modes, 20-inch alloys, LED headlights, high-beam assist, leather trim, heated front seats, active-parking assist, traffic-sign assist, ambient cabin lighting (with 64 colours), plus electrically folding door mirrors. AMG Line Executive adds 21-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while AMG Line Premium includes a 360-degree camera; the Premium Plus has a panoramic glass roof and a Burmester surround-sound hi-fi.

Alternatives to the Mercedes GLE

If you’re after an expensive seven-seat SUV, there’s more choice than you might think. The Audi Q7 is a technical tour de force, comfy and roomy, but like all seven-seat SUVs, the third row isn’t very spacious. If you need room for seven adults, the one SUV that can do the job is the Land Rover Discovery. While the British model is a wonderful cruiser, the potential ownership problems are well documented. 

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The Volvo XC90 has been around for almost a decade (and it bows out soon), but it’s still comfortable and refined, safe and luxurious. The BMW X5 is brilliant to drive and comes with some great engines. The BMW X6 is a closer rival to the GLE Coupé though, along with the Range Rover Sport and the Porsche Cayenne Coupé.

What to look for

Towing

All GLEs can haul up to 2,700kg, apart from the AMG 53 and 63 S, which are rated at 3,500kg. A towing package is optional.

Seating

The 400 d, 450 and 53 came with seven seats as standard; a third row was extra on the 300 d and 350 d, but unavailable on the 63 S.

Paintwork

The only no-cost colours available on the GLE were black and white. As a result, these are among the most common finishes available.

Plug-in tech

The 2023 facelift brought a plug-in hybrid with a petrol engine, the 376bhp GLE 400 e. Its 31.2kWh battery gave an electric range of up to 68 miles.

Interior

As soon as you climb inside, it’s clear that this is a premium product. Not only are there high-quality materials everywhere, but the widescreen digital dashboard also looks futuristic and incorporates class-leading infotainment. Head and legroom in the second row are excellent, but both are tight in row three, which is best suited to children.

With the second row in use, the boot can stow 630 litres, or 2,055 litres with the seat backs folded down. The GLE 350 de and 400 e cut this to 490 and 1,915 litres, while their fuel tanks also hold just 65 litres, compared with the 85 litres for all other versions of the SUV.

Prices

The 300 d is the cheapest GLEs on the market. This variant vies with the 400 d for most popular engine, but you’ll pay a lot more for a like-for-like version of the latter. Most GLEs have a diesel engine, and just one in 10 is a diesel plug-in hybrid (350 de). You'll really need to splash the cash to land the ultimate AMG GLE 63 S from 2021.

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To check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.

Running costs

All GLEs need to be serviced every 12 months or 12,500 miles, depending on the engine. Maintenance alternates between minor and major, with the former priced at £450-£800, while the latter costs £630-£1,000, depending on which service it is and therefore which parts need to be replaced. A fresh air filter costs around £80 (fitted), for example, while a new fuel filter will set you back about twice as much.

 On top of these costs, you’ll also have to pay £100 or so every other year for fresh brake fluid, while the coolant needs to be renewed every 10 years; expect to pay about £150 for this to be done. All GLE engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts to replace.

Mercedes offers servicing plans through its ServiceCare programme, to help spread the cost of maintenance. All GLEs come with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty as standard.

Recalls

A total of 13 recalls so far is disappointing, although most affected only the GLE within Mercedes’ model range and many involved just a few cars. Three recalls were issued because of poor-quality welding; one for the fuel filler, one because of a stud not being properly attached to the floorpan, and the third because of sub-standard welds in the rear crossmember, necessitating wholesale replacement. 

Faulty air-con drain hoses (there were two recalls for this), trim coming adrift on the doors (there were also two for this), and chafed wiring inside the car were further reasons for campaigns to be launched. Also on the list were faulty eCall and engine ECU software, second-row seatbelt buckle glitches, and sub-standard wiring in the engine bay of plug-in hybrid models.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The GLE sells in relatively small numbers, so it hasn’t made it into our new or used Driver Power surveys. There were just two Mercs in the 2023 New Car poll; the A-Class came 39th, while the E-Class made an appearance in 43rd. Mercedes came 25th out of 32 manufacturers in our 2023 Brands poll, having finished 23rd out of 29 in 2022. Buyers were unhappy with their cars’ quality, value for money and running costs.

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