I admit it: I’m a complete sucker for luxury SUVs. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate their smaller compatriots — who doesn’t like an exotic sports car? But when push comes to shove, I’ll almost always choose a SUV over any car out there. Perhaps it’s because I’m short…
Regardless of the psychological reasons behind my love of larger vehicles, there’s one big issue I have with SUVs, and that’s the fact that they’re gas-guzzlers, and as such, none too cheap to drive. Fortunately, many of the new SUVs hitting the market are addressing this problem head-on, and one in particular is Mercedes-Benz’s 2016 GLE SUV. Let’s take a look.
Give me the specs!
First things first: the GLE is not a new addition to the Mercedes-Benz lineup. It’s actually a redesigned — or as Mercedes-Benz likes to say, “reborn” — M-Class, which is Mercedes-Benz’s best-selling SUV.
The GLE has a starting MSRP of $51,100, and is available with six different engine options. This includes a 201 horsepower 2.1-liter BlueTEC twin-turbo diesel inline-four, a 302 horsepower 3.5-liter Direct Injection V6, and for electricity fans, a 329/114 horsepower 3.0-liter V6 with an 80 kW plug-in hybrid electric motor. This is the GLE 550e, which is capable of traveling up to 18 miles on pure electric power and is Mercedes-Benz’s first foray into plug-in hybrid SUVs.
Of course, if you’re looking for an SUV that thinks it’s a race car (and you’ve got cash to burn), look no further than the $107,100 AMG GLE63 S. It features a handcrafted AMG 5.5-liter bi-turbo V8, which has an output of 577 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque.
Depending on the engine, the GLE’s acceleration from zero to 60 miles per hour ranges from a somewhat sluggish 8.9 seconds for the diesel to a lightning-quick 4.2 seconds for the handcrafted V8 (did I mention it thinks it’s a race car?). Unfortunately, as of this writing, Mercedes-Benz doesn’t have an official zero to 60 miles per hour for the GLE 550e. However, Autoweek puts it at an estimated 5.3 seconds. That’s pretty impressive given the fact that the GLE 550e has a curb weight of 5,456 pounds, making it the heaviest GLE available.
More important, compared to the M-Class, Mercedes-Benz states that the GLE’s fuel consumption and C02 emissions are reduced by 17% across the available engine options. In other words, if you’re “going green” but still want an SUV, the GLE might just fit the bill.
Defined, clean lines
As far as exterior styling goes, the GLE gets a facelift, but it’s probably not going to alienate newer-model M-Class fans. The GLE still has the typical stylistic features like the C-pillar and integrated rear side window, but it’s slightly longer and wider. In addition, the GLE has advanced aerodynamics and a redesigned front-end. This includes reshaped headlights, a chrome emblem that dominates the larger grill, and a lower bumper. In brief, the GLE’s exterior is defined, yet sleek.
The GLE’s interior, on the other hand, is a marked upgrade compared to its predecessor, with the biggest change being an 8-inch touchscreen that’s mounted between two air vents. According to Mercedes-Benz, the touchscreen can be controlled using pinch and swipe gestures, or there’s an available voice control. Plus, typical of the M-Class, the GLE seats five, and has a variety of interior options including heated seats, hand-finished wood accents, and a panorama roof.
As far as safety goes, the GLE follows Mercedes-Benz’s rigorous standards, and features a 360-degree network of cameras, sensors, and radar. Among others this includes Adaptive Brake Assist, which automatically adjusts braking to prevent collisions, Attention Assist, which helps detect driver-drowsiness, Active Lane Keeping Assist, which vibrates the steering wheel if you start to swerve into another lane, and blind spot and pedestrian detection.
How does it drive?
As is true with any new model, the big question is, “How does it handle?” Luckily, according to Motor Trend, the 2016 GLE is a significant improvement over the M-Class, and it states, “No matter which one you choose, the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class proves to be a much better replacement than the Mercedes M-Class it replaces.”
Specifically, Motor Trend found that the GLE was the complete package with plenty of passenger space, cargo room, luxury details, and smooth handling. Plus, in regards to the GLE 550e, Motor Trend found that it was extremely quite, with fast acceleration, and impressive handling.
A luxury SUV that’s easier on the gas
Simply put, the 2016 GLE is an impressive evolution of Mercedes-Benz’s M-Class. Not only is it a beautiful vehicle inside and out, but it also has plenty of power, impressive safety features, and won’t put as much of a pinch on your wallet thanks to its improved fuel economy.