2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Review
Edmunds expert review
Mercedes-Benz introduced the GLE-Class in 2016, and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is carried over virtually unchanged. Although the name is relatively new, the vehicle itself is familiar. The GLE-Class is essentially the old M-Class, Mercedes' familiar and popular midsize luxury SUV. Pleasingly, though, Mercedes took care to do more than simply give this SUV a cosmetic face-lift; it also improved the GLE cabin and added new features. The company also added a GLE-Class Coupe model (reviewed separately), a BMW X6-like version with a more aggressively sloping roofline.
One of the more interesting aspects to the GLE is its wide range of engine options. It starts with a base V6, and from there you can upgrade to a turbocharged V6 variant. The plug-in hybrid GLE 550e showed up late last year, giving shoppers interested in high fuel economy a new option to consider. If it's performance you want, Mercedes still has you covered with its AMG models and their neck-straining acceleration. Certainly, there's a version of the GLE-Class to suit many sensibilities.
Even so, it will be worth your time to shop around a little. At the sportier end of the luxury crossover SUV spectrum are the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. The Lexus RX 350 continues to be an impressive all-rounder, while the new Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC90 are making waves with their distinctive exterior designs. If you plan on venturing off-road, give the Land Rover LR4 a look. Among this group, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class doesn't stray far from the M-Class, philosophically speaking. It's a luxury SUV bestowed with comfort and capability in equal measure. It's worth your attention.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a forward collision warning system, Pre-Safe (which can identify an imminent crash and automatically take measures to secure occupants), a rearview camera, hill start assist, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. The Mbrace telematics system includes automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, stolen vehicle location, geo-fencing, alarm notification and remote door lock/unlock. The GLE also comes standard with Attention Assist, which monitors driver behavior for signs of drowsiness.
Other available safety technology includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, and a lane departure warning and intervention system.
In Edmunds brake testing, an all-wheel-drive GLE 350 came to a stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is a few feet longer than the segment average.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a five-passenger SUV that's offered in five different models differentiated largely by the engine selection: GLE 350, turbocharged GLE 400, GLE 550e plug-in hybrid, AMG GLE 63 and AMG GLE 63 S. Partway through the model year, the AMG GLE 43 replaced the GLE 400.
The GLE 350 comes standard with 19-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and taillights, front and rear foglights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, a roof rack, rear privacy glass, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors and a power liftgate. Inside, you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, wood trim, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated and power front seats, driver memory functions, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, LED accent lighting, Mercedes' COMAND electronics interface (with an 8-inch display), a backup camera, a 4G LTE data connection, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio, a CD player and a USB port. There are also numerous standard safety features listed in our Safety section.
The optional Premium 1 package includes keyless ignition and entry, a navigation system, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, a rear 115-volt, household-style power outlet, a blind-spot monitoring system and a lane departure warning system. The Premium 2 package includes all of the Premium 1 items plus adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, heated and cooled cupholders and rear sunshades. The Premium 3 package further adds adaptive cruise control, a collision avoidance system, a lane departure warning system and an automated parking system.
The Exterior Sport package includes 20-inch wheels and an AMG body kit. There's also the Night package, which has the Exterior Sport package contents plus gloss-black exterior trim pieces and wheels. Leather upholstery is optional for the GLE 350.
The GLE 400 includes all features from the Premium 1 and Exterior Sport packages, as well as a turbocharged engine, multicolor ambient interior lighting and leather upholstery. An Off-Road package is available for this model only, which includes a low-range gearing, a unique Dynamic Select calibration and a front underbody skid plate.
The GLE 550e plug-in hybrid includes all the Premium 1 features plus leather and unique cabin treatments.
The GLE 400's replacement, the AMG GLE 43, features a more powerful engine, AMG-exclusive 20-inch wheels, an AMG-tuned adaptive air suspension, a sport exhaust, exterior styling upgrades, a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum shift paddles and pedals, simulated leather upholstery, and the contents of the Premium 1 package.
The Parking Assist package is available on all the above trims, and it adds a 360-degree camera system and the automated parking system.
The AMG GLE 63 includes the GLE 43's features, plus the Premium 2 and Parking Assist packages, a turbocharged V8 engine, larger brakes, active stabilizer bars, front and rear parking sensors, special leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated seats.
The range-topping AMG GLE 63 S increases the horsepower of the turbocharged V8 and adds 21-inch wheels, a carbon-fiber engine cover, a sport steering wheel, suede headliner and unique upholstery.
Notable standalone options include a panoramic sunroof, a trailer hitch, adaptive air and off-road suspensions, tri-zone climate control, multi-contour front seats with massage, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon or a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is offered with a total of four different powertrains. All-wheel drive (4Matic) is standard on all but the GLE350, where it's an option that replaces rear-wheel drive. All engines come with fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start technology.
The GLE350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and has a seven-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy numbers are 20 mpg combined (18 city/23 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 19 combined (18 city/22 highway) with all-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, the GLE350 with all-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, an average time for this segment.
The GLE400 gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 329 hp and 354 lb-ft and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates it will earn 20 mpg combined (18 city/23 highway). A low-range transfer case and locking center differential are optional.
The GLE550e plug-in hybrid model couples a 114-hp electric motor to the turbo 3.0-liter V6 and seven-speed automatic-based transmission, boosting total output to 436 hp and 479 lb-ft. Zero to 60 mph is claimed to take 5.3 seconds. EPA fuel economy is estimated to be 43 mpg equivalent when starting with a fully charged battery and 21 mpg when operating in normal hybrid mode. Maximum driving range on electricity alone is said to be approximately 18 miles.
Under its hood, the AMG GLE63 takes a big step up to a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that cranks out 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The AMG GLE63 S sports a version of the same engine that produces 577 hp and 561 lb-ft. Both engines use a specially tuned version of the seven-speed automatic, and fuel economy for both is EPA-rated at 15 mpg combined (13 city/17 highway). Mercedes says the AMG GLE63 makes the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.3 seconds and the GLE63 S does the same in 4.2 seconds.
Properly equipped, the GLE350 with rear-wheel drive can tow up to 6,600 pounds; the GLE350 4Matic and all other models can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class delivers a plush ride quality on reasonably smooth paved surfaces, but even moderate bumps make their presence known. Compared to other luxury crossovers, the GLE feels overly soft and not all that buttoned down to the road, with handling that is on the graceless side when pushed moderately hard. Opting for the air suspension with active stabilizer bars might help, but so far we haven't been terribly impressed with the base GLE's ride quality.
Likewise, the GLE's steering feels too light, though it offers decent feedback. In short, this is not an SUV for buyers seeking sporty handling. Of course, the barnstorming AMG GLE 63 trims are considerably more capable in this regard.
On the straight-out performance front, the GLE 350's V6 delivers adequate acceleration but tends to feel a bit overwhelmed in a vehicle this size. If you're looking to get going with some degree of gusto, the twin-turbo V6 under the hood of the GLE 400 feels downright quick, and the V8-powered AMG models deliver blazing acceleration anytime you feel the need.
Although billed as an all-new model when it was introduced last year, the 2017 Mercedes GLE-Class still shares its underlying bones with the now-defunct M-Class model. There's more than a passing resemblance inside and out, though Mercedes updated the cabin with a large, center-mounted display screen and the latest knob-based COMAND system with a redundant touch-sensitive pad for clicking and swiping.
The infotainment system can be intimidating at first because of its myriad features and customization possibilities, but in practice it works fairly well. The availability of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is a nice addition, too.
Some might find the GLE 350's standard premium vinyl upholstery somewhat out of place on such a premium vehicle, despite breathing and wearing better than leather. Otherwise, though, materials quality and workmanship are excellent. In models fitted with any of the available grades of genuine leather, particularly the optional Designo diamond-quilted leather upholstery, and genuine burled wood trim, the interior's plushness is significantly elevated. Available multicontour front seats are highly adjustable and add several massage programs to the supremely comfortable thrones.
Adults will find comfort and space no matter where they sit, as the tallish ride height means the transmission tunnel barely eats into the cabin. The two sections of the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold easily to create a roomy cargo hold with a flat load floor. Cargo capacity stays the same, with 38.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 80.3 cubes with the seatbacks folded flat. These are average numbers for the segment.
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.