2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class 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.
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.
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.
Noise & vibration
Ease of use
Getting in/getting out
Child safety seat accommodation
Audio & navigation
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.