New 2018
Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE is the German automaker's midsize-luxury SUV, a 2-row/5-passenger hauler that adeptly takes on rivals like the BMW X5 and Lexus RX. Formerly known as the M-Class, the GLE changed its name a couple of years ago and now has enough configurations to be its own lineup. Most buyers will be satisfied with the jack-of-all-trades GLE 350 and its V6, but there's also a plug-in hybrid-SUV variant for those seeking superior sufficiency. For the power-hungry, there are AMG GLE models, and even a sportier and less practical version called the GLE Coupe, all of which we review separately. Starting well over $50,000, the Mercedes GLE costs more than most rivals, but boasts impressive features and a badge to envy.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

In addition to the luxurious amenities, safety features and technology you'd expect in a Mercedes-Benz, the GLE packs a few surprises, like the ability to tow up to 7,200 pounds. Another is the plug-in hybrid GLE's ability to travel up to 10 miles on battery power alone.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

The Lexus RX has a softer ride, costs about $10,000 less, and holds its value better in the long run. The slightly smaller Acura RDX, meanwhile, is agile, comfortable and costs far less than the Mercedes. If you want a diesel SUV, options keep dwindling but Jaguar offers one in the F-Pace.

What's New for 2018

For 2018, the Mercedes-Benz GLE carries over unchanged, with the only updates coming on the AMG side of the equation with a power bump for the Mercedes AMG GLE 43 variant.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The GLE's road-going characteristics vary quite a bit depending on powertrain. Most buyers will choose the GLE 350, either in standard rear-wheel-drive form or with all-wheel drive, which Mercedes call "4Matic." In such form, the GLE has a good blend of power and handling. While its acceleration trails that of a standard X5 (the GLE's 0-60-mph time is 7.5 seconds, vs. 6.1 for the BMW), it will be more than sufficient for most buyers. More relevant is the GLE's admirable road manners -- a satisfying blend of comfort and finesse, all bolstered by the confidence inspired by the GLE's physical presence and high seating position. The GLE 550e plug-in hybrid comes at a higher cost but grants a have-cake-and-eat-it-too mentality. With a total of 436 horsepower, this hybrid-luxury SUV can zoom from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds -- a few ticks faster than the AMG GLE 43 performance variant.

Favorite Features

TOWING CAPACITY
Pulling heavier loads may not be the first thing on the mind of GLE buyers, but it's good to know this midsize-luxury SUV is up to the task if you have a trailer or recreational toys. Rear-drive models are rated up to 6,600 pounds, while 4Matic models go to 7,200 pounds.

TOUGH EXTERIOR, COSSETING INTERIOR
Inside the GLE's muscular and handsome shell is an interior that pampers, especially with options of your choosing. From massaging front seats to heated and cooled cup holders, the GLE's cabin has a way of making even the mundane seem marvelous.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The Mercedes GLE remains a 2-row/5-passenger SUV, and has no pretense of trying to stuff a tiny third row into its shape. That's a good thing, because the GLE offers more rear-seat legroom than an X5 and edges its German rival in cargo capacity, too. Behind the rear seats is 38.2 cubic feet; folding the seats opens up a significant 80.3 cubic feet. Driver and passenger are treated to a good view out thanks to the higher seating position. Below the standard 8-inch display is a button-centric module for audio, phone and navigation features to supplement the rotary controller between the seats.

Exterior

A styling update two years ago softened some of the GLE's boxy lines, but the 2018 GLE exterior remains tough yet handsome. We particularly like the angled C-pillar behind the rear doors, and the LED taillights make a statement at night, along with the LED-accented headlights during the day. For an AMG look without the extra AMG price, there's an exterior package that offers body styling found in the performance models. Also available is the Night Package, which includes AMG styling and gloss-black accents for that edgier appeal.

Notable Standard Equipment

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE comes nicely equipped, as you'd expect from a vehicle starting upwards of $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, Slippery). For added convenience and safety, you also get keyless start, rearview camera, crosswind assist and active brake assist, which can warn of an impending collision and automatically apply the brakes. Features include an AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with USB input and Bluetooth connectivity, displayed on an 8-inch color screen. The GLE gets five years’ access to the mbrace service, which gives remote access via phone or smart device. Standard upholstery remains MB-Tex.

Notable Optional Equipment

There's no shortage of ways to make your Mercedes GLE SUV even more luxurious, safe, sophisticated and unique. At the least, we recommend the Premium 1 Package, a good value that bundles navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a harman/kardon audio system and active safety features like blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist. Also available are heated and cooled front seats, in-car Wi-Fi, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and massaging front seats. A safety system uses radar and cameras to watch for vehicles and objects at intersections, and Pre-Safe Plus prepares the vehicle if it senses a collision from behind.

Under the Hood

The 2018 GLE's standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. The AWD GLE 550e plug-in hybrid pairs a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery, and can travel 10 miles on electricity alone. The battery can be charged in a couple of hours, and since it has a robust gasoline engine on board, you won't be stranded if the battery runs out of juice. The battery can also be charged by the gas engine when driving. Both the GLE 350 and GLE 550e use a well-regarded 7-speed automatic transmission. If a high-performance SUV is your thing, check out the GLE AMG models, which we review separately.

3.5-liter V6 (GLE 350 & GLE 350 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 + electric motor (GLE 550e 4MATIC plug-in hybrid)
436 horsepower (total)
479 lb-ft of torque (total)
EPA city/highway fuel economy, est.: 38/50 MPGe (gas + electric)

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Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE midsize-luxury SUV starts just over $53,000 when you include the $995 destination charge; add another $2,500 if you want 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The GLE 550e plug-in hybrid SUV starts over $67,000, though it is eligible for about $4,000 in federal tax incentives. These prices can easily rise by thousands with options. At its starting price, the GLE starts slightly lower than the BMW X5 but above other rivals like the Lexus RX, Acura MDX and RDX, Lincoln MKX and Cadillac XT5. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Mercedes GLE's resale value is expected to hold up well over the years, but still trail the Lexus RX.

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