- The 2024 GLE features updated front and rear styling.
- There's a new plug-in hybrid version, the GLE 450e.
- The AMG GLE 53 produces more torque for quicker acceleration.
Driven: 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE Has More Features and Power
The GLE is a can't-miss luxury ride
For 2024, Mercedes-Benz has given its midsize GLE SUV a significant update. It's not fully redesigned but the 2024 GLE does have freshened styling, a more luxurious interior, an upgraded infotainment system and a new plug-in hybrid powertrain option. The GLE continues to be larger and more expensive than the brand's GLA, GLB and GLC SUVs. In this alphabet-soup family, Mercedes-Benz also makes the slightly smaller EQE SUV, which is the all-electric counterpart of the GLE. This midsize luxury SUV typically seats five, but it can be optioned with a third row with two additional seats. Key rivals include the Audi Q8, BMW X5, Genesis GV80, Lexus RX and Porsche Cayenne.
What's under the GLE's hood?
Whew, there are a lot of flavors and toppings in a 2024 GLE sundae. Starting with the very same 255-horsepower 2.0-liter engine as the GLC, the base GLE 350 comes standard with all-wheel drive (Mercedes-Benz calls it 4Matic). Step up to the GLE 450 4Matic for a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine making 375 horses, and the GLE 580 4Matic is equipped with a stout 4.0-liter V8 for 510 hp.
But wait … there's more. Just like an infomercial, the options seem to go on and on. On top of these basic four engine combinations, the AMG performance variant trots out a parade of power. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 is propelled by an enhanced 3.0-liter six-cylinder good for 429 hp. This is the same horsepower output as last year but Mercedes says it produces more torque and accelerates a bit quicker than before. And at the top of the food chain, the AMG GLE 63 is set up with a sweet handcrafted 4.0-liter V8 making a thumping 603 hp.
And what about the new GLE plug-in hybrid?
Yep, there's that one, too. The new GLE 450e 4Matic plug-in hybrid pairs a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with plug-in hybrid components to produce a combined 381 hp. As with all plug-ins, it can drive a certain distance on all-electric power before its engine fires up and drives more like a typical hybrid vehicle. As of our review's publication, Mercedes had yet to say how far the GLE 450e can drive on a single charge. As a rough guess, we'd expect it to be similar to the plug-in-hybrid version of BMW's X5, which can go 30 miles. Notably, Mercedes says the GLE 450e 4Matic can be charged at a public DC fast-charging station in addition to a 240-volt power source. Most other plug-in vehicles can't be DC fast-charged. In theory, this means you'll be able to more quickly charge up your GLE at a DC station while you're out and about to make the most of its electric capability.
How does the GLE drive?
While the 2024 GLE benefits from subtle aesthetic changes, like new front bumpers, updated LED running lights and fresh wheel designs, it's the upgraded performance that gets us excited. As you might expect, the GLE drives and handles beautifully. The AMG GLE 53 we tested now has a larger turbo and updated software for 413 lb-ft of torque, compared to 384 lb-ft last year. Mercedes-Benz says it can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Hold onto your hat, because the AMG GLE 63 S can go the same distance in 3.7 seconds and zooms up to 174 mph. Easy, tiger.
Previously, the performance exhaust was not standard in the AMG GLE 53, and it's a must-have. The SUV makes beautiful sounds on the downshifts. Braking is similarly impressive, as the wide tires and large brakes slow the GLE down quickly and smoothly without so much as a tremble. We found that using the Sport or Sport+ throttle mode was the most enjoyable when paired with the Comfort suspension setting. The SUV tackles twisty roads with aplomb while still keeping passengers from feeling jostled.
How comfortable is the GLE?
The front and back seats in the AMG GLE 53 are supremely soft and well shaped. An available massage function is sublime, with choices like "hot stone massage" to improve the ride. It would be even better if the massage function needed one simple button to activate it instead of having to dive into the infotainment system to get there.
Inside the cabin, road noise is minimal, which bodes well for music aficionados who want to enjoy the available high-quality Burmester audio system. The only noise you might notice is likely coming from the wheelwells as air circulates around the tires, and even so it's not intrusive. Choosing the third-row option in the GLE means two more spots for passengers, though those seats are best reserved for children.
How's the GLE's interior?
Wide door openings and a cocoon-like vibe with 64 colors of ambient light give the GLE an otherworldly quality. Every AMG comes with leather upholstery, and two new color options are quite fetching. We were fans of the Macchiato Beige/Black combination in our test car, and the now-standard heated seats and ventilated front seats are much appreciated. You can even choose both at the same time so that on a warm summer day the heater can soothe a tired back while cool air keeps you from overheating.
The GLE has a new steering wheel with integrated sensor controls that require only a light touch to activate. Thumbing up and down through different speeds while using cruise control may be slightly difficult for those with medium to larger hands due to the canted spokes, but it's otherwise nicely engineered. Large, easy-to-access buttons on the wheel of the AMG GLE 53 allow the driver to quickly make decisions about the drive mode, exhaust options and some performance characteristics.
Everything in the cabin is very touchable and worthy of its luxury status. Only the vent design across the dashboard stands out as lacking imagination. Across the board, the interior is well designed and makes a statement that's unmistakably on brand for Mercedes-Benz.
How's the GLE's tech?
Mercedes-Benz is currently in its second generation of its MBUX infotainment system, and it has so many positive attributes that we gave it a 9.5 out of 10 for the 2023 GLE model.
It's connected to two 12.3-inch displays, one packed with digital information for the driver and the other providing a full menu for the vehicle in the center. Wireless smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is now available in the GLE, and connecting a device is a seamless operation.
In AMG models, augmented reality navigation is standard, as is a surround-view system with what Mercedes-Benz calls its new "transparent hood" feature. Software stitches all of the 360-degree camera angles together to create a virtual view of the wheels and steering position, which comes in handy when traveling across terrain that isn't perfectly smooth.
The updated "Hey, Mercedes" voice assistant is quite attentive and has the ability to follow commands in conversational language like "Hey, Mercedes … I'm cold" and it will respond by warming up the cabin. But we did notice during our test drive that it was a bit too in tune, and if we used the word "Mercedes" at all in conversation, the system would pipe up eagerly and demand a command.
Mercedes-Benz says it's focused on comfort for the GLE line, but it's not leaving performance behind. On the contrary, this vehicle is more fun than ever to drive. Whatever you're looking for from your next midsize luxury SUV, the 2024 GLE is very likely to have it.