New 2018 MercedesBenz MercedesAMG GLE SUV New 2018
MercedesBenz MercedesAMG GLE SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLE is the performance version of the German automaker's midsize-luxury SUV. These variants begin with the standard GLE's premium amenities, excellent ride quality and above-average utility, and inject them with substantial power and performance. Think of these as GLE models that spent a year muscling up at the gym, then did some Parkour to hone their agility. Three Mercedes-AMG GLE variants are available. The GLE43 with its turbocharged V6 and sub-$70,000 price serves as a great gateway into AMG exclusivity, while the GLE63 and GLE63 S pack a twin-turbo V8 engine and price tags starting over $100,000, right up there with the BMW X5 M. The more stylistic and less practical GLE Coupe is reviewed separately.

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You'll Like This SUV If...

If you want a Mercedes GLE with more power, better handling and a higher degree of exclusivity, the trio of AMG GLE models beckons. Because they are based on the standard model, these performance versions of Mercedes' 2-row/5-passenger SUV also tend to be sleepers.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

While the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 is relatively attainable at under $69,000, the 6-figure price tags of the GLE63 models are a big ask. A BMW X5 M edges the GLE63 S from 0-60 mph. And the 707-horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will smoke them both for far less money.

What's New for 2018

Just one year after debuting, the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 gets a power bump to 385 horsepower. Standard across the 2018 GLE lineup is five years of complimentary service to mbrace Connect, which allows communication to the vehicle from a smartphone or computer.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

Do you want a Mercedes GLE that is simply fast and performs better than a midsize SUV has any right to, or one that will embarrass sports cars in a straight line and quite possibly in turns, too? Answering that first question is the GLE43, a golden Goldilocks that packs significant improvements in power and acceleration over the standard GLE350, but doesn't cost the crazy money of its AMG GLE brothers. If your budget can welcome the $100,000-plus GLE63 or GLE63 S, however, you're in for real thrills. With 577 horsepower ready to meet 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, the top-dog Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is fast, its handling is taut, and the engine and exhaust sing voracious notes. It's all a visceral experience that will show those other commuters who's boss.

Favorite Features

THEY CAN TOW, TOO
On the practical side of the equation -- and these high-performance SUVs do have a practical side -- they are rated to tow up to 7,200 pounds. That's plenty for a small RV or other toys.

MERCEDES-AMG GLE43
While the 2018 AMG GLE43 has two fewer cylinders than its ferocious AMG GLE63 brothers, we don't mind its status as something of a middle child in the GLE lineup. It's a big step up in performance over the standard models at a price that isn't as intimidating.

Vehicle Details

Interior

As they’re part of the 2018 GLE lineup overall, these AMG variants retain the standard model’s 2-row/5-passenger setup and layout. As we note in our review of the regular 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE, this midsize-luxury SUV stands out for its ample room for passengers and cargo. Rear-seat passengers are treated to over 38 inches of legroom, and rear cargo space is commendable at 38.2 cubic feet with rear seats up and over 80 with them folded. Nice touches include a sport steering wheel, brushed aluminum pedals and AMG-exclusive instruments. As with the standard GLE, the driver's seat is commanding and comfortable.

Exterior

Part of the AMG GLE's appeal is that is looks much like a normal GLE model, that is, until it lays tracks up the freeway onramp. From that vantage, you'll see at least one of the distinctions of this performance model, and among its most visible giveaways: quad chrome-tipped exhaust outlets. Other bits include a unique front end with large air intakes, chrome underguards and a black diffuser in back. Big, 20-inch wheels with black accents also make a statement (the AMG GLE63 S rolls on 21s). Pragmatically, a power tailgate is standard, as are power-folding side mirrors.

Notable Standard Equipment

In addition to its performance powertrain and hardware like air suspension, the "base" model in this lineup, the AMG GLE43, includes power tailgate, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, power sunroof and the Premium Package 1. Optional on standard GLEs, this package bundles key features like blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, harman/kardon premium audio, and an infotainment system with navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Safety systems include the ability to automatically apply the brakes if a collision appears imminent, crosswind assist to aid in driving amid strong winds, and trailer-stability assist. You'll still have to pay extra for leather.

Notable Optional Equipment

Moving up to the GLE63 models brings handcrafted engines and other upgrades like Nappa leather upholstery, heated and cooled cup holders, and the active curve system for higher performance or comfort, depending on driving behavior. Other options include ventilated and massaging fronts seats, in-car Wi-Fi, Bang & Olufsen audiophile sound system, panorama roof, soft-close doors and heated rear seats. Additional safety and driving aids include active lane-keep assist and active blind-spot assist, and radar-based cruise control.

Under the Hood

The engines in these high-performance GLE models are blessed by AMG, Mercedes' performance arm. The AMG GLE43 has a twin-turbo V6 that Mercedes says is "enhanced" by AMG, while the GLE63 and GLE63 S feature twin-turbo V8 engines that are the more traditional handcrafted powerplants. All AMG GLE models feature Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system with a permanent 40:60 front/rear torque split for a sports-car feel. All feature the Dynamic Select system with switchable drive modes, from Sport and Comfort to Slippery. The AMG GLE43 uses a 9-speed automatic transmission that performs better than other 9-speeds we've tried, while the GLE63 duo uses a slick 7-speed. All have a defeatable start/stop system that cuts engine power at idle.

3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (AMG GLE43)
385 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg

5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (AMG GLE63)
550 horsepower @ 5,750 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 mpg

5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 (AMG GLE63 S)
577 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
561 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 mpg

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Pricing Notes

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLE lineup starts with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price of just under $69,000 for the AMG GLE43 model. That's significantly less than the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLE63, which starts over $103,000. Higher still is the AMG GLE63 S, an even more powerful variant that begins over $110,000. The AMG GLE‘s most direct rival is the BMW X5 M, which also starts in the low-$100,000 range. Porsche makes a case with the Cayenne GTS and Cayenne Turbo models, which start around $100,000. We know its badge is far from luxury, but the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is more powerful -- by far -- than all these rivals and starts under $90,000. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Mercedes-AMG GLE is expected to hold its value quite well, right in line with the X5 M.

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