It’s hard to believe it was just over 20 years ago, when people were shocked that Mercedes-Benz would release a luxury minded consumer oriented SUV. Well, believe it or not, now there are seven SUVs to choose from in their line-up. But it was the ML that started it all, and the latest version of it, is now known as the GLE.
My how things have changed. Luxury SUVs like this 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 are now the norm at the country club, not the exception. And as with most in the segment, there’s plenty of exciting technology. This GLE has MB’s new User Experience.
“The MBUX personal assistant is claimed to be the most advanced voice recognition system out there able to understand most natural speaking so let’s give it a try."
"Hey Mercedes. Tune to Real Jazz radio. Please repeat. Tune to Real Jazz radio." It’s thinking about it and there it is.
"Hey Mercedes, find me the nearest gas station. Please select an entry. Number 1. What would you like to do now? Take me there. The route is being calculated. " And off we go. And it’s giving me the route.
One more thing. "Hey Mercedes. How can I help you? What is MotorWeek? MotorWeek is a half hour American television series."
So you can see it’s not perfect, but the personal assistant got it right two out of three times and that’s a real step forward”
As to the more routine details, base power for the rear-drive GLE 350 is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 255-horsepower and optional all-wheel-drive.
This GLE 450, has 4MATIC standard, as well as a 3.0-liter turbocharged I6; with 362-horsepower, 369 lb-ft. of torque, and Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48-volt starter/generator.
The 450 feels very powerful; and at our test track, a strong hole shot from lots of low-end grunt, had us doing the 0-60 hustle in a quick 5.3-seconds.
A mean-sounding crack of the exhaust happens every time the 9-speed automatic transmission triggers a snappy shift. Plenty of traction, and a super solid presence, had us feeling large and in charge throughout the 13.9-second ¼-mile, which ended with us travelling 99 miles-per-hour.
It also handles quite well for a biggish midsize ute, feeling more compact than it is, weaving through the cones with concrete-like composure. Lots of grip, and very little body roll to speak of; it’s a very well-balanced chassis.
You can feel that Mercedes didn’t cheap out on suspension design and just rely on electronics to do the hard work.
The sheet metal looks more like the original ML than last gen GLE; boxy is in, bulbous is out. We wouldn’t call it rugged, but it does have that gentlemanly cragginess to it, like a tweedy sportsman ready to take to the highlands for game.
The numbers say it’s not much bigger inside than before, but it sure feels like it when you settle into either the plush front seats, or spacious back ones. Everything from switchgear to materials, exudes upscale luxury.
We love the wide, twin-screen instrument panel; beautifully integrated, full of information, and easy to use. What more do you want?
Add the latest generation of Benz’s Advanced Driver’s Assistance System with Active Emergency Stop Assist to the list as well. In our crash barrier test, every run seemed to be a little different as far as when and how much it would brake, but it was 100% effective at bringing us to a stop.
With 5 passengers, cargo capacity is a fine 38.2 cubic feet. Drop the split rear seats and it’s a generous 80.3.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 24-Highway, and 21-Combined. We overachieved with a 26.9 miles-per-gallon average on Premium. Still, it rates a worse than average Energy Impact Score, with 15.7-barrels of petroleum consumed and 7.0 tons of CO2 emitted annually.
Base pricing is actually down over last year, with the 2-wheel-drive 350 starting at $54,695; the 450 4MATIC at $62,145.
Even with all of the high-dollar SUVs we drive these days, it’s hard not to be impressed with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE. It may not offer the off-road prowess of a Range Rover, or the sheer performance of a Porsche Cayenne. But when it comes to comfort, technology, and luxury in the midsize SUV field, the GLE now sets the standard.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.9 seconds @ 9 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city / 24 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.0 tons/yr