- All-new midsize electric SUV
- Direct competitor to BMW iX and Tesla Model Y
- Spacious interior and lots of tech
Driven: Electric 2023 Mercedes EQE SUV Goes Big on Luxury and Tech
Mercedes EQ experience in a GLE-size package
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV is a fully electric midsize crossover SUV that checks all the major boxes for consumer demand in the U.S.: enough space for families, long range, a luxurious cabin, and plenty of the latest technology and driver assist features. It takes its place within Mercedes' growing lineup of all-electric SUVs that includes the smaller EQB and larger EQS SUV. With two rows of seats for up to five passengers, and a luxurious interior to match its futuristic battery-powered drivetrain, the EQE SUV is a prime competitor to the Audi e-tron, BMW iX, Lexus RZ 450e and Tesla Model Y.
How much range and power does the EQE SUV have?
There are three main (non-AMG) versions of the EQE SUV: the base EQE 350+, the EQE 350 4Matic and the EQE 500 4Matic. Each one draws power from a 90.6-kWh battery pack lying underneath the floor. In the base EQE 350+ model, the battery sends power to a single electric motor on the rear axle, making 288 horsepower and 417 lb-ft of torque and getting what Mercedes estimates will be 279 miles of range on a full charge.
Move up to the EQE 350 4Matic and the same battery is connected to two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear, for 288 hp and 564 lb-ft and all-wheel drive. That drops the EPA-estimated range down to 253 miles with the all-season tires. For more power, there's the dual-motor EQE 500 4Matic that is rated at 402 hp and 633 lb-ft and projects to get an EPA-estimated range of 269 miles.
Our experiences with Mercedes EVs in real-world driving versus EPA estimates has been positive so far. Both the EQS 450+ sedan and the EQS 580 sedan overperformed relative to their EPA estimates in our Edmunds EV range test, for example. This bodes well for the EQE SUV. We'll know for sure once we're able to run the EQE SUV on our test route later in the coming months.
How does the EQE drive?
During our drive, we were able to experience a well-equipped EQE SUV 350 4Matic and a 500 4Matic. Acceleration in both, like most EVs, is instantaneous and should satisfy most drivers. Mercedes estimates the 350 4Matic will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds and the 500 4Matic in 4.6 seconds. While neither figure is slow, the EQE SUV 350 4Matic would be almost a second behind a gas-powered GLE 450. The 500 4Matic will be closest to keeping up with the BMW's iX xDrive50, which in our testing zipped from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
What impressed us more was the manner in which the EQE SUV decelerates. Utilizing the paddles behind the steering wheel, you can engage three levels of brake regeneration (where the vehicle uses the motors to charge the battery when decelerating) and easily find one to suit your preference. Normal regeneration mode is good for a majority of the populace, while Aggressive regeneration will feel more natural for EV drivers who desire a one-pedal-drive sensation.
The third regeneration mode — Intelligent — is eye-opening. It utilizes a combination of map and sensor data to calculate when and where to use an appropriate amount of brake regeneration to slow the vehicle automatically. We've only driven the EQE SUV briefly but found there were instances in this mode where it began to brake early to charge the battery and slow the vehicle naturally. We highly recommend that you still brake naturally to assist it. It was just impressive in the way that it approached the regeneration process.
One efficiency breakthrough Mercedes has added to the EQE SUV relates to the 4Matic (all-wheel-drive) system when in Comfort or Eco drive mode. Upon initial acceleration, both front and rear electric motors engage to propel the vehicle forward. Then at some point when you're cruising along at highway speeds, the front motor decouples (disengages from the front driveshaft) and the 4Matic EQE SUV becomes a rear-wheel-drive vehicle to maximize the range. By disengaging the front motor, it removes the parasitic draw on range that would occur in a typical all-wheel-drive system. Once you start slowing down, or have a need for more power, the system will automatically re-engage the front motor.
The EQE SUV's ride is smooth like butter thanks to the available adjustable air suspension. It's also a capable handler. While it's a midsize EV SUV, its agility makes it feel more like a compact SUV. It will please sporty drivers in the way that it navigates through curvy roads — especially on models equipped with the rear-wheel steering system that can turn the rear wheels up to 10 degrees. That system also makes U-turns a breeze.
What kind of charging capabilities does the EQE SUV have?
Inside the EQE SUV is a 400-volt electric architecture. This is standard for modern electric vehicles, though some — like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Porsche Taycan — use a higher-capacity 800-volt system that can handle faster DC fast-charging speeds. Mercedes representatives say the 400-volt design allows for consistent linear charging, rather than higher maximum rates that spike and fall depending on various factors.
We're not sure if there's value in what Mercedes says or if it's simple marketing spin, but in either case, the EQE SUV is capable of charging at a maximum rate of 170 kW and can juice up from 10% to 80% battery life in a respectable 32 minutes on a suitable DC fast-charging station. If you use a standard Level 2 home-charging system, filling from 10% to 100% is estimated at 9.5 hours. Some electric vehicles can charge up more quickly, owing to the EQE SUV's 9.6-kW onboard charging system, which is outpaced by competitors such as the Model Y (11 kW). The Mercedes, though, is within average range for the class.
How comfortable is the EQE SUV?
The cabin of the EQE SUV is a really nice place to be in. With simulated motor noises and music turned off, the midsize SUV is silent on the inside. Wind noise was pretty nonexistent as well during highway drives. The aerodynamic design assists here and is another efficiency breakthrough on the EQE SUV. It provides the SUV with a similar drag coefficient as the last-generation E-Class sedan. This is accomplished by having panels installed to reduce drag and make the SUV slippery through the air instead of being a square brick that blocks airflow.
During our initial drive, the EQE SUV did a nice job of maintaining cabin temperature. Even without the sunshade covering the panoramic glass roof, our preferred temperature of 65 degrees was kept easily. And it adjusted swiftly when we dialed up some heat. Mercedes says the EQE SUV utilizes a heat pump that takes excess heat from the electric motors and battery to heat the interior of the vehicle when needed. This unit reduces the draw on the battery when heating the interior and is intended to increase range.
How's the EQE SUV's interior?
While the EQE SUV is shorter than the related EQE sedan from nose to tail, that doesn't impact passenger space too dramatically. The EQE SUV provides spacious, comfortable seating in both the front and rear rows, and this is perhaps aided by the swooping, dome-like exterior shape that helps create headspace inside. Passengers 6 feet tall or taller will find generous accommodations for the class.
Forward visibility is good but the front driver's side roof pillar is a tad thick. We often found ourselves trying to pivot forward to look past it on sharper turns or through some intersections. The view out of the sides and back window is pretty comparable to visibility in other electric SUVs in the class.
The big impression inside the cabin is its luxurious feel. The soft materials and impressive construction feel no different from standard gas-powered Mercedes SUVs, and at least a step or two above the experience of sitting inside a Tesla Model Y. In comparison to the BMW iX, it's a bit more traditional yet it retains a modern appeal.
The models we drove during our first drive were airtight, and the available wood paneling gives the impression that the brand knows this is where it can shine against EV rivals. Overall, the EQE SUV mirrors the quality and plushness of other Mercedes EVs, which, in this case, is a very good thing.
How's the EQE SUV's tech?
It's Hyperscreen season at Mercedes. Like other electric vehicles at the brand, the EQE SUV offers the 56-inch so-called Hyperscreen that encompasses three digital displays in one — a screen for the driver, a central touchscreen, and a touchscreen in front of the front passenger. We've been impressed by the sheer breadth of information available through the screens, which are enclosed within one single piece of glass stretching from one end of the vehicle to the other.
Still, the Hyperscreen can be overwhelming. And besides, the standard 12.8-inch OLED center touchscreen is no slouch itself. Both it and the Hyperscreen are powered by the latest version of Mercedes' MBUX operating system. We rate its high-def graphics and quick response very highly for the class — not to mention the stellar voice controls, which recognize natural language and can be used to control vehicle functions like seat adjustments and climate controls in addition to radio and navigation settings.
And we can’t talk tech without speaking of the magnificent 15-speaker Burmester audio system. Check this out: It comes standard on all EQE SUVs. That Dolby Atmos system absolutely envelops you in brilliant, clear sound and turns everything you play through it (from Queen to Wu-Tang Clan) into a personal concert experience. Crank it up and it's like being center stage and having RZA “flow like Christ when he speaks the gospel” in your face.
How's the EQE SUV's storage?
Mercedes says the EQE SUV offers 20 cubic feet of space in its cargo area behind the rear seats at its maximum cargo configuration — rear seats being more upright than reclined. If your rear passengers want the standard reclined configuration, that figure goes down to 14 cubic feet. That's considerably less than what's available in the Audi e-tron, BMW iX and Tesla Model Y. Even Mercedes' dimensionally smaller EQB electric SUV has a bit more cargo space behind its rear seats. The EQE SUV's rear seats fold down to boost storage up to a more competitive 59 cubic feet.
There's a slim space under the cargo floor where the car's charging cord and emergency equipment are kept. You won't find a frunk, however. Like other Mercedes EVs, the EQE SUV houses electrical components under the hood. In fact, it can't be opened at all without a trip to a Mercedes service center — but really, there's no reason to, anyway.
What about the AMG EQE SUV?
If you'd like an SUV that runs on electricity but you'd love one that runs on adrenaline, the AMG EQE SUV may be for you. This version, made by Mercedes' in-house performance arm, takes the EQE SUV formula and ramps it up significantly. Here are the stats: 617 horsepower as standard; up to 677 hp with the optional AMG Dynamic+ package; 0-60 mph in as little as 3.3 seconds.
With the AMG EQE SUV you'll also receive sportier exterior styling, distinctive interior styling accents, AMG-specific screen graphics and available front sport seats. An air suspension is standard, and there's a 48-volt onboard system used specifically to power the highly adjustable suspension settings. If you so choose, you can option up to 22-inch wheels and carbon-ceramic performance brakes. Obviously, we can't wait to drive the AMG EQE SUV closer to its availability in summer of 2023.
The Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV makes all the sense in the world as a mass-market electric crossover for the luxury brand. The onboard tech and passenger space, plus excellent driving dynamics and standard features, should immediately compete for best in class. However, the lack of cargo room is concerning, and Mercedes will soon see whether its flavor of EV is right for consumer palates.