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In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLE - Practicality, comfort and boot space

Seven-seat practicality is welcome, but the GLE is at its best in five-seat mode

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Practicality, comfort and boot space Rating

4.5 out of 5

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The latest GLE feels noticeably more spacious than its predecessor, helped in no small part by a longer wheelbase, which has increased by 80mm. The outgoing model was the first to offer a seven-seat option, but this latest model has a third row of seats as standard on all but the entry-level 300 d model.

Size

The GLE measures 4,924mm in length, 1,947mm wide and 1,772mm tall. This makes it bigger than the BMW X5. The Audi Q7 is longer than the Mercedes GLE, but not as tall or wide. Crucially, the GLE’s 2,995mm wheelbase is 80mm longer than before, which results in a larger cabin.

Leg room, head room & passenger space

You’re unlikely to feel uncomfortable and cramped in the GLE, as there’s plenty of space in the first two rows of seats. Front seat passengers can stretch out in limo-like comfort, while there are similar levels of legroom in the second row.

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In fact, thanks to the generous headroom and width of the cabin, adults can comfortably sit three abreast in the back, with only a marginally smaller amount of leg- and knee-room for the middle seat passenger.

It’s only when you clamber into the third row that things start to go awry. The electric folding middle seat takes an age to move forward, resulting in a long wait for anyone needing to travel in the very back. Once there, the space is suitable for children and early teens – anyone taller won’t thank you for spending a prolonged period in the back.

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In fairness, this is no different to many of the 5+2-seat large SUVs on the market, although the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery are more suited to full-time seven-seat SUV duties.

It’s also worth noting that the seven-seat equipment line is an option on the GLE 300 d that costs around £2,000, which makes the other models look like better value. The package includes additional USB ports for the front, middle and rear seats, four-zone climate control and electrically folding rear seats. All of this is standard on the other models.

It’s only when you clamber into the third row that things start to go awry. The electric folding middle seat takes an age to move forward, resulting in a long wait for anyone needing to travel in the very back. Once there, the space is suitable for children and early teens – anyone taller won’t thank you for spending a prolonged period in the back.

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In fairness, this is no different to many of the 5+2-seat large SUVs on the market, although the Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery are more suited to full-time seven-seat SUV duties.

It’s also worth noting that the seven-seat equipment line is an option on the GLE 300 d that costs around £2,000, which makes the other models look like better value. The package includes additional USB ports for the front, middle and rear seats, four-zone climate control and electrically folding rear seats. All of this is standard on the other models.

Boot

The additional space is certainly noticeable in the boot, with a generous 630 litres of luggage capacity. That figure is unchanged for the PHEV as well, with the battery impacting on the fuel tank instead (20 litres less than the mild-hybrids). Slide the middle seats forward and this extends to 825 litres – up 125 litres on its predecessor. With the middle seats folded away, this extends to a van-like 2,055 litres – nearly 200 litres more than in the BMW X5.

Mercedes hasn’t quoted a figure for boot space with the third row of seats in their upright position, but this isn’t a car for travelling with seven people and their luggage.

The boot lip is relatively high off the ground, but standard for this segment, and you’re greeted with a flat load area and a wide opening. Thanks to the Airmatic package, the rear of the vehicle can be lowered by 40mm to allow for easier loading and unloading.

Towing

In standard form, the Mercedes GLE has a maximum braked towing capacity of 2,700kg. However, in all but the entry-level 300 d, this can be extended to 3,500kg by adding the £1,500 towing package.

The pack comprises trailer manoeuvring assist, which controls the steering angle of the GLE at speeds of up to 5km/h, with dynamic guidelines displayed on the infotainment screen. An electronically folding tow bar includes a 13-pin socket and electronic stability control. All GLE models feature trailer stability assist, regardless of whether or not the towing package has been added.

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