By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.1
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is practically a full-fledged lineup of luxury SUVs unto itself. There's the GLE350, with its fuel-efficient V6, or the GLE550e hybrid. On the other end is a GLE63 S AMG with more power than you'll know what to do with, and in between, a new GLE43 AMG model that splits the difference in both price and power. If it sounds like there's a GLE for every luxury SUV taste, then you're right-on, as Mercedes-Benz offers a variation to take on everything from the BMW X5, Lexus RX, Lincoln MKX and Cadillac XT5. Its well-rounded nature, roomy and comfortable interior, and diverse powertrain lineup make it a solid choice for luxury SUV buyers. (The sportier, less practical GLE Coupe has its own review.)
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class remains a cut above its competition in sophistication and luxury, making it an excellent choice for anybody wanting a capable, comfortable and confident 2-row luxury SUV. A starting price just over $50,000 makes it surprisingly attainable as well.
The Lexus RX offers a softer ride and a price tag that's $10,000 lower; the Acura RDX is agile and comfortable, and even less. The GLE is also limited to five passengers; if you need more room, you'll have to step up to a 3-row SUV like the Mercedes GLS.
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The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE drops the diesel and gains a standard rearview camera, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and a couple of new colors. There's also a new performance model: the AMG GLE43, which uses a twin-turbo V6 engine.
All 2017 GLE models are comfortable and easy to drive, whether it's the base GLE350, or the fire-breathing AMG GLE63 S. That means your choices are dictated by engine, and...
... there's a wide variety here. The base 302-horsepower V6 in the GLE350 will leave most buyers perfectly satisfied, and if you want more, the twin-turbo AMG GLE43 offers a satisfying boost. The GLE550e plug-in hybrid delivers up to 18 miles of whisper-quiet range while on battery power, and returns good fuel economy the rest of the time. Then there are the AMG-tuned twins: the AMG GLE63 and AMG GLE63 S. With up to 577 horsepower on tap, performance-biased all-wheel drive, and AMG's famously good handling, they're the first choice for performance enthusiasts...at least, for those with the $100,000-plus to afford one.
The GLE550e offers up to 18 miles of electric-only travel, along with fast charging, and the gasoline engine means no range anxiety. If your daily drive is limited to those miles, or if you can recharge during the day, you could see a dramatic decrease in your gas bill.
While the 2017 AMG GLE43 is not the quickest or greatest handling AMG model to debut, we like its additional power, upgraded looks, enhanced features and (relatively) affordable price point, allowing AMG-intenders a way into the famed sub-brand, but without a 6-digit price tag.
Last year, the GLE got a major upgrade to its interior, changes that carry through to 2017. All 2017 GLE models are 2-row SUVs that can seat five passengers and carry a respectable 38.2 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seats. The GLE550e loses a bit of its cargo space thanks to the big lithium-ion battery pack. Regardless, all GLE models offer exceptionally comfortable front seats and equally satisfying rear seats. Like all modern luxury cars there are a lot of features, which means something of a learning curve, but easy enough to find and use after that.
The styling update last year softened some of the lines, but the 2017 GLE exterior remains boxy, but handsome. We particularly like the angled C-pillar behind the rear doors, and the LED taillights make a statement at night, along with the new LED-accented headlights during the day. Opt for the high-end AMG models, and you'll get 20-inch wheels, a lowered stance, and unique styling accents that include four chrome tailpipes. Roof rails on all models add to the GLE's utility factor.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE comes very nicely equipped, as you'd expect from a vehicle starting at more than $50,000. Highlights include a power tailgate, sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers and selectable drive modes (Comfort, Sport and Slippery). There are also keyless start, a rearview camera, active brake assist and crosswind assist, and Parking Pilot, which assists you in parking your car, either parallel or perpendicular. Audio and communication features include an AM/FM/CD/HD Radio receiver with USB input and Bluetooth connectivity, all displayed on an 8-inch color screen. Standard upholstery remains the MB-Tex faux leather.
Even putting aside the different engine options, there's no shortage of upgrades for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class...as long as you're willing to pay. A Premium 1 Package for the GLE350 (standard on higher trims) bundles navigation, blind-spot monitoring, rearview camera, keyless entry, and the COMAND touch-pad controller. There are also massaging seats, leather, various wood trim designs, and AMG performance packages. Additional safety features include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, active cruise control and Steering Assist, which keeps the vehicle from drifting in lanes. We're particularly partial to the downright magical-sounding Bang & Olufsen audio.
At the bottom is a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower, and is the only model available with rear- or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD). All others have Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC AWD standard. The new AMG GLE43 offers a more powerful version of the same V6 engine. V8 power comes in two forms, boasting up to 577 horsepower in the AMG GLE63. The AMG GLE43 comes with Mercedes-Benz's excellent 9-speed automatic; the rest of the lineup comes with the still-excellent 7-speed auto. If fuel economy is your game, the GLE550e offers all-electric propulsion for up to 18 miles.
3.5-liter V6 (GLE350 & GLE350 4MATIC)
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/23 mpg (RWD), 18/22 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (AMG GLE43)
362 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (AMG GLE63)
550 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (AMG GLE63 S)
577 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm
561 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/17 mpg
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 + electric motor (GLE550e 4MATIC plug-in hybrid)
436 horsepower (total)
479 lb-ft of torque (total)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 39/50 mpge (gas + electric)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE midsize-luxury SUV is a little under $53,000 when you include the $925 destination charge; add another $2,500 if you want 4MATIC all-wheel drive. On the other end of the scale is the roughly $110,000 you'll pay for the AMG GLE63 S. And that's all before options; a fully loaded GLE63 S will run you more than $120,000. Despite a somewhat stiff suspension, the AMG GLE43 offers an excellent compromise of power, fuel economy, performance and features, and it starts at about $68,500. Prices closely match the BMW X5, but the Mercedes-Benz is thousands more than vehicles like the Acura RDX, Cadillac XT5, Lexus RX and more. Before buying, complete your homework and check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price. The Mercedes GLE's resale value is expected to hold up well over the years, but still trail the Lexus RX.