2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class AMG GLE 63 4MATIC Review

Got motor? The GLE-Class obliges with up to 577 ponies.
7.7 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

In some ways, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a bit unusual for a luxury crossover SUV. It's bigger than the typical compact crossover (think Mercedes' GLC) but lacks a third row of seats like many rivals offer. Instead, the GLE provides plenty of room to transport four adults in supreme comfort. And while many crossovers come in just one version, Mercedes offers four distinct GLE models.

The non-turbocharged V6 under the hood of the base GLE 350 provides enough thrust for everyday driving and is rated to tow up to an impressive 7,200 pounds. To really get up to speed quickly, though, check out one of the two performance-focused GLEs. The turbocharged engines in the AMG GLE 43 and the AMG GLE 63 transform the GLE from a laid-back cruiser to a hard-charging bruiser. There's also a GLE 550e plug-in hybrid. It offers a paltry 12 miles of electric-only range, but its mix of power and fuel economy is the best of the GLE lineup.

Whichever model you choose, you'll be impressed by the GLE's beautifully constructed interior. A wide variety of luxurious leathers, rich trim pieces and high-quality plastics line every conceivable touch point, making each variant feel as if it's worth the money. With so many versions available, there's surely a 2018 Mercedes GLE-Class to match your needs.



What's new for 2018

The AMG GLE 43 is slightly more powerful, increasing engine output from 362 horsepower to 385 hp. Otherwise, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is unchanged for 2018.

We recommend

Though the GLE-Class comes in many versions, we think the standard GLE 350 is the way to go. It lacks the shot of adrenaline offered by the AMG models, but it's still strong enough to hustle this big SUV up to speed when needed. Also, we've found that even the relatively mild AMG GLE 43 has a stiff ride quality that's a little off-putting. For options, we recommend getting the Premium 1 package to further burnish the GLE's luxury credentials. Also consider the optional air suspension if ride comfort is a priority for you.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a five-passenger SUV that slots between the GLC compact crossover and the three-row GLS. It's offered in five trims, each with a distinct powertrain. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the GLE 350, while Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is optional on that model and standard on all others.

Powering the GLE 350 is a 3.5-liter V6 (302 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque) and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive (4Matic) is optional. The generous list of standard features starts with 19-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, a sunroof, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, and a power liftgate.

Inside, you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, heated front seats, a 10-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment and memory functions), simulated leather upholstery, Mercedes' COMAND electronics interface (with an 8-inch display) and an eight-speaker audio system with a CD player and two USB ports. Standard advanced safety features include a rearview camera, a forward collision warning system and Mercedes' Mbrace telematics system.

There are three optional packages that encompass many of the features available for the GLE-Class. The Premium 1 package is one of the most comprehensive for the GLE 350, adding keyless ignition and entry, a navigation system, a touchpad controller for the central display, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 14-speaker premium Harman Kardon audio system, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, a blind-spot monitoring system and a lane departure warning system.

The Premium 2 package adds adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, heated and cooled front cupholders, interior ambient lighting, illuminated doorsills, rear-window sunshades and a fold-down pass-through behind the rear-center armrest (not available on the GLE 550e). On top of that, the Premium 3 pack features a 360-degree parking camera, adaptive cruise control, an automated steering system, a collision avoidance system, lane departure intervention and an automated parking system.

Upgrading to the GLE 550e not only includes the plug-in hybrid powertrain — a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 and electric motor provide a combined 436 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque — but also adds leather upholstery and the contents of the Premium 1 package.

The first of the performance-oriented models is the AMG GLE 43. It features a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (385 hp, 384 lb-ft), a nine-speed automatic transmission, 20-inch wheels, an AMG-tuned adaptive air suspension, a sport exhaust, exterior styling upgrades, a flat-bottom steering wheel, simulated leather upholstery and the contents of the Premium 1 package.

Next up is the AMG GLE 63, which adds a stout turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 (550 hp, 516 lb-ft), upgraded brakes, summer performance tires, active stabilizer bars, front and rear parking sensors, a sport steering wheel, a 10-way power passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar and memory functions), ventilated front seats, upgraded leather upholstery, a faux-suede headliner and the contents of the Premium 2 package.

Finally, there's the top-dog AMG GLE 63 S, powered by a tuned version of the turbo V8 (577 hp, 561 lb-ft). It also adds 21-inch wheels, a carbon-fiber engine cover and faux suede steering-wheel inserts.

Many features included in the upper trims or packages can be added separately. Notable stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, a trailer hitch, tri-zone climate control, multicontour front seats with massage, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a 14-speaker Harman Kardon or a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio 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 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class AMG GLE 43 (turbo 3.0L V6 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current GLE-Class has received some revisions, including the GLE 43's increase in horsepower from 362 horsepower to 385 hp. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's GLE-Class.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.7 / 10

Driving

7.5 / 10

Acceleration7.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability8.0 / 10

Comfort

8.0 / 10

Seat comfort9.0 / 10
Ride comfort6.5 / 10
Noise & vibration8.5 / 10

Interior

7.5 / 10

Ease of use7.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.5 / 10
Roominess7.5 / 10
Visibility8.5 / 10
Quality9.0 / 10

Driving7.5

The AMG GLE 43 is not a true AMG but has the fun and playful nature that most buyers want. Rough city streets are not its forte; the open road or mountain pass is where the GLE shines.

Acceleration7.5

For the most part, the AMG GLE 43 accelerates smoothly and willingly. Quick, small gas pedal changes (such as when hesitating while crossing an intersection) lead to sluggish responses as the transmission and turbocharged engine figure out what to do.

Braking7.0

The brake pedal's travel is long and soft, which doesn't inspire much confidence in the brakes, but actual stopping performance is good. And there's still a lot of steering ability even when braking aggressively; this lets the GLE navigate more easily around obstacles in panic situations.

Steering7.5

Steering is responsive, and the GLE tracks straight and true. Sport and Sport+ driving modes progressively add more weightiness. There's decent feedback when the front wheels are loaded up, allowing a surprising amount of driver confidence.

Handling6.5

Handling is a mixed bag. The stiffly tuned suspension makes the GLE feel sporty around town, but hard driving reveals a lot of body roll and lack of vehicular balance. In Sport+, the suspension is too firm, and the front end loses traction.

Drivability8.0

The GLE excels on the highway and is quick to accelerate when you need it. The transmission's shifting can seem excessive in certain situations, such as when driving up grades.

Comfort8.0

Once you get the myriad seat adjustments sorted (and stored in memory), the GLE is a fantastic way to travel long distance. Heck, go ahead and take a road trip with your family or friends. There's plenty of room in back.

Seat comfort9.0

The driver's seat is very adjustable, except when bolstering the thighs. Because of that, the bottom half of your body doesn't feel as secure as the top half. Padding is stiff, but the massage feature works very well.

Ride comfort6.5

In a word, the AMG GLE 43's ride is harsh. While you expect firmness from a sport-tuned model, it seems excessive in this vehicle. The regular GLE 350 rides more comfortably.

Noise & vibration8.5

Oddly, wind noise is the main intruder. Tire and road noise levels are minimal.

Climate control

The optional three-zone system is quiet and responsive. We like the easy-to-use controls and the enhanced ways to distribute air flow. The rear vents are well-placed and move a good amount of air. The seat heaters are effective, even through thick winter layers.

Interior7.5

The best feature of the GLE is its high-class interior. There are multiple choices for seat and interior materials, as well as the trim. The options will overwhelm many and delight some. The two-pane panoramic sunroof is a must-have.

Ease of use7.5

Aside from the ambiguity of the COMAND knob versus touchpad to control the audio and navigation system, the rest of the controls are intuitive and easy to use. The only sore spot is the number pad, which looks out of place in the otherwise modern cockpit.

Getting in/getting out7.5

You'll find large door openings in the front and rear, and the just-right height makes it easy to get in and out.

Driving position

The GLE has an excellent driving position, and the seat offers a wide range of adjustments that make it perfect for tall and short drivers. The thick-rimmed AMG steering wheel might be uncomfortable for drivers with smaller hands.

Roominess7.5

Passengers will not feel claustrophobic inside the GLE. There's ample room in all dimensions, although those narrow of hip may feel as if they're swimming in the front and rear seats.

Visibility8.5

There's very good visibility all around, and typical blind-spot regions are mostly remedied by the 360-degree parking camera. However, the camera is difficult to access on demand; you must either put it in reverse to inspect your surroundings or go through a convoluted vehicle menu.

Quality9.0

The GLE features excellent build quality. All the numerous interior pieces fit together perfectly, without any creaks or rattles. The exterior body gaps and paint were excellent, as was the leather quality on the seats and dash.

Utility8.0

Nothing too crazy. This AMG GLE 43 is still a GLE, after all. The cargo area features nice loops to secure items, but the center seat pass-through is an optional extra. With the adjustable suspension and the optional Class III hitch, the GLE would make a great weekend toy hauler.

Small-item storage

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

Cargo space is about what you'd expect for this segment. The cargo area is taller than it is wide, and the load floor is surprisingly high. The rear seat bottoms fold up, making an additional cargo area, and the seatbacks then fold down flat, although you have to lower the headrest to get everything to fit.

Child safety seat accommodation

Four LATCH anchors are located prominently on the rear seats, with three mounts on top. This allows for three car seat positions: two outboard and one inboard. The top mounts are easy to access from the trunk, and the anchors are easily accessible in their own little pockets.

Towing7.5

The GLE is rated to tow up to 7,200 pounds, but you need to opt for the proper Class III hitch.

Technology

We're happy to see Apple CarPlay make its debut, 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. 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

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 can find yourself repeating and mistiming 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.