2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe SUV Review

The Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe fastback crossover certainly is stylish, but it's not very practical.
3 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe is not for the faint of heart or practical of mind.

While most people buy crossovers for their superior passenger and cargo space compared to sedans or wagons, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe instead prioritizes style over utility. Relative to the standard GLE-Class, the GLE Coupe's swoopy roofline reduces both rear seat headroom and vertical storage space in the back. So if the "utility" aspect of this SUV is compromised, where exactly does it shine?

Ostensibly, the GLE-Class Coupe is more interested in that "sport" bit. Most Mercedes-Benz vehicles offer a variety of engines that run the gamut from fuel-efficient to tire-shredding. The GLE-Class Coupe skips the boring stuff and comes in just two versions: outlandish and ludicrous. The so-called base engine is a twin-turbo V6 churning out nearly 400 horsepower, while the AMG 63 S' twin-turbo V8 cranks out nearly 600 hp.

Though the GLE Coupe absolutely stomps in a straight line, Mercedes' engineers weren't able to do much to enhance this vehicle's handling prowess. Even compared to some similarly designed crossovers, the coupe just isn't much fun to drive. The end result is a vehicle that isn't especially practical or sporty.



what's new

The AMG GLE 43 is slightly more powerful, increasing engine output from 362 horsepower to 385 hp. A new AMG Performance Studio package debuts for the GLE 43, adding black exterior elements and orange-rimmed wheels, among other appearance upgrades. Otherwise, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe is unchanged for 2018.

we recommend

As much as we like the idea of the AMG GLE 63 S and its outrageously powerful twin-turbo V8, it's spectacularly more expensive than its baby brother. For that reason, we'd start with the standard AMG GLE 43 and tick the boxes for both Premium packages. These two packages add a plethora of advanced driver aids and a few neat luxury upgrades; even better, they don't increase the bottom line by much. Add the massaging front seats with ventilation and you've got a sporty SUV loaded with desirable features.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe is a five-passenger midsize SUV available in two trim levels: AMG GLE 43 and AMG GLE 63 S. Both can tow up to 7,200 pounds and are equipped with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive. Despite their similar names, a vast gulf in price and performance separates the two variants. The AMG GLE 43 is well-equipped as standard, and on the whole it could be described as a reasonable alternative to everyday luxury people movers. There's very little that's reasonable about the AMG GLE 63 S, however, and its fans embrace its ludicrousness as a badge of honor.

Powering the AMG GLE 43 is a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (385 horsepower, 384 pound-feet of torque) and a nine-speed automatic. Standard equipment highlights include 21-inch wheels, an adaptive air suspension, a panoramic sunroof, a power liftgate, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, premium vinyl upholstery and a 115-volt household-style power outlet.

Standard tech and safety features include an 8-inch central display, the COMAND infotainment interface, a navigation system, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning and intervention, and a forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.

Two primary options packages are available for the GLE 43. The reasonably priced Premium 2 package includes heated and cooled front cupholders, interior ambient lighting, illuminated doorsills and a center pass-through for the rear seat. The Premium 3 pack further adds a 360-degree parking camera, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, an automated steering system, a collision avoidance system, lane departure mitigation and an automated parallel parking system.

It's a big step up pricewise to the AMG GLE 63 S. Under the hood is a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 (577 hp, 561 lb-ft of torque) mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It adds 22-inch wheels, summer performance tires, active stabilizer bars, bigger brakes, adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, a carbon fiber engine cover, a 360-degree parking camera, noise-reducing front-row windows, a sport steering wheel, heated and ventilated front sport seats, front passenger memory settings, upgraded leather upholstery and the contents of the Premium 2 package. It also includes the Premium 3 package's 360-degree parking camera and parking system.

There are a few appearance packages as well. Both models can be equipped with the Night package, which adds gloss-black lower valances and window surrounds. The GLE 43-only AMG Performance Studio package includes the Night package plus an orange lip on the front bumper, an orange stripe on the wheels and faux-suede seat inserts.

Notable stand-alone options include tri-zone climate control, a premium 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, multicontour massaging front seats, heated rear seats, a rear entertainment system and a trailer hitch. Optional for the GLE 63 S is a performance exhaust system.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe AMG GLE 63 S (5.5L twin-turbo V8 | 7-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current GLE-Class Coupe has received only minor revisions. Our findings remain applicable to the 2018 GLE-Class Coupe

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling2.5 / 5.0
Drivability5.0 / 5.0

Comfort

3.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.5 / 5.0

Interior

2.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out2.0 / 5.0
Roominess2.0 / 5.0
Visibility2.0 / 5.0
Quality4.0 / 5.0

Utility

3.0 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.0 / 5.0
Cargo space2.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
It's tremendously powerful and agile for its size, but you never forget just how heavy this GLE Coupe is. It's civilized when you're just cruising around. A puzzling vehicle, it's effective in the same way a gold-plated hammer is.

acceleration

edmunds rating
Giddying thrust from the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8. Big-hearted and punchy. The seven-speed automatic is a bit dull-witted and doesn't lead the class in its response to gear-change requests. It's smooth, though. It blitzed to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds in our testing.

braking

edmunds rating
Despite its mass, it stops from 60 mph in a respectable 112 feet. Pedal feel around town is intuitive and easy to modulate.

steering

edmunds rating
The steering is reasonably precise and well-weighted, though feel is on the numb side. No bad manners, though. The quick steering ratio helps make this bruiser a bit easier to wield.

handling

edmunds rating
For its size, it's more adept than you might expect. Heavy and stable. Body roll is reasonably contained, and it changes direction without drama. But other sporting SUVs have better handling.

drivability

edmunds rating
It's quite pleasant in normal driving. It behaves in a civilized manner in routine driving. Smooth gear changes. The idle-stop feature responds acceptably quickly when restarting. This is a vehicle you could let your grandparents drive.

comfort

edmunds rating
It has well-shaped seats and better noise isolation than you might expect. The GLE Coupe rides better than its primary competitor, the BMW X6 M. The engine sounds terrific.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are supportive but can still deliver good comfort during long drives. The optional massage function is entertaining. Reasonably comfortable back seat.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Better ride compliance than the BMW X6 M. The standard air suspension rounds off the sharp edges of the road and does a fine job of controlling the car's large 22-inch wheels.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Very effective noise isolation. The engine is vocal during even light acceleration, but it's unobtrusive and very satisfying to hear. Very good suppression of wind noise. Road noise is not as bad as the huge steamroller tires would suggest.

interior

edmunds rating
While finely trimmed, the GLE 63's cabin suffers due to the low and sloping roofline, which eats up interior space. There's surprisingly little space inside given the gargantuan outside dimensions. All of the downsides of a large vehicle with none of the upsides.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Like all modern Benzes, this has a well-laid-out cabin that's intuitive to use. We like the big climate control knobs and the thick steering wheel. The row of shiny buttons looks nice but lacks readability.

getting in/getting out

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There's a fairly tall step up into the cabin. Getting in is impeded by the running board; it's too narrow to be useful but still gets in your way. The rear door opening is small because of the low roofline.

roominess

edmunds rating
The sloping roof is for style only; it eats up backseat headroom and cargo space. The sense of spaciousness up front is better than in the rear. Front passengers enjoy reasonable leg- and headroom. Rear legroom is good; headroom less so.

visibility

edmunds rating
Its wide pillars and short windows impede outward visibility significantly. The backup camera helps, as do the parking sensors. The view out the front is pretty good.

quality

edmunds rating
Beautiful interior surroundings. Diamond-pattern leather and rich-looking materials abound. No rattles or squeaks in our test car. Finished to a high standard.

utility

edmunds rating
Cargo space is limited, although the cabin has plenty of nooks for smaller items. If utility is a priority, look to the standard GLE-Class SUV, not the GLE Coupe.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Interior storage is just barely adequate, limited to the inside of the center console, an odd recess underneath the center stack and door pockets. You expect a little more in a luxury SUV .

cargo space

edmunds rating
It has much less cargo-holding capacity than its non-coupe stablemate. The liftover height is rather high. The cargo hold is not very tall, but it is deep.

technology

We're happy to see Apple CarPlay make its debut in the GLE Coupe, but the lack of a touchscreen makes it all but unusable. The control and adjustability are beyond what the COMAND interface can handle. The touchpad and dial are two separate systems, and actions and motions don't carry over.

audio & navigation

Our tester's Harman Kardon audio system sounds good and is easy to use. Inputting destinations is straightforward, and the system provides sufficient directions to maximize success. The biggest challenge will be in getting into the proper mode by jogging and spinning the dial controller.

smartphone integration

Bluetooth pairing is quick, and both USB ports in the center console can be accessed by the head unit. The lower of the two USB ports is dedicated to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, but accessing that mode is tremendously difficult.

driver aids

The adaptive cruise control works great, and the function is easy to access via the cruise control stalk. Blind-spot detection is just about perfect, and lane departure feedback is gentle. Lane-centering is fine for extremely intermittent use.

voice control

The voice recognition system doesn't recognize plain text inputs via the touchpad. The system has a specific order and way of inputting commands. This can get tricky since the system is a bit laggy, so you find yourself repeating and mis-timing commands.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.