From the second I first get in and modify the driving force’s seat within the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450, I do know this SUV is one thing particular. The massive middle display screen prompts me to enter my top, and after doing so, the seat, steering wheel and pedals transfer on their very own, placing me within the excellent seating place. That is one heck of a primary impression.
The GLE-Class — previously generally known as the M-Class — is the automobile that arguably began the luxurious SUV craze, greater than 20 years in the past. This fourth-generation mannequin guarantees to be a giant leap ahead when it comes to each onboard tech and driving dynamics, making it higher poised to tackle a rising crop of premium SUVs.
Turbocharged and electrified
The 2020 GLE-Class begins with the GLE350, powered by a 2.Zero-liter, turbocharged I4 engine. However I am rocking the GLE450, which makes use of a Three.Zero-liter, turbocharged I6, placing out 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Whereas the GLE350 might be had with a selection of rear- or all-wheel drive, the GLE450 solely comes with Mercedes’ glorious 4Matic AWD system, in addition to a nine-speed automated transmission.
This energy plant has an ace up its sleeve: Mercedes’ EQ Increase electrical help. It is a mild-hybrid system, sort of just like the eTorque tech within the new Jeep Wrangler and Ram 1500, with a 48-volt onboard motor-generator that may add 21 horsepower for brief bursts.
The 48-volt system additionally provides juice to the GLE450’s E-Energetic Physique Management system, which is a mix of air suspension and hydraulic dampers that may management every wheel independently. It actually comes into play after I flip the drive mode to Curve — as a substitute of leaning to the correct whereas taking a left-hand sweeper, the automotive really leans into the flip. That makes for practically flat cornering, which truthfully is a little bit unusual at first, however straightforward to get used to.
The GLE began the luxurious SUV craze greater than 20 years in the past.
In the event you ever take your fancy GLE450 to the filth, the EABC system affords a couple of get-unstuck-quick tips. For instance, the automotive can bounce itself up and all the way down to self-extract if you end up mired in delicate sand. You may also modify the peak of any particular person wheel in an effort to search out grip. Or, you recognize, you possibly can simply make it dance.
The EABC tech is actually cool, however remember, it is a pricey add-on. On this GLE450, it provides $eight,100 to the underside line.
In Sport and Sport+ modes, the GLE450’s throttle snaps to consideration and the nine-speed transmission downshifts below braking so I’ve plenty of energy popping out of a flip. The transmission is so properly tuned I do not even trouble with the paddle shifters.
In fact, if you wish to obtain most gas economic system, it is best to remain out of the Sport modes, and right here, you will discover a plush journey with gentle, correct steering. The EPA estimates gas economic system rankings of 19 miles per gallon metropolis, 24 mpg freeway and 21 mpg mixed for the GLE450, which is not too unhealthy, although throughout my week of testing, I noticed numbers decrease than that.
The newest driver-assistance tech
The GLE450 has an enormous record of driving aids, making my commutes round San Francisco a breeze. Adaptive cruise management is nothing new, neither is stop-and-go performance, however the Benz will do you one higher. Utilizing GPS, the GLE450’s system can learn the highway forward and decelerate robotically for curves, toll sales space plazas and so forth.
When site visitors opens up, the GLE affords an Energetic Velocity Restrict Help operate. I can set the cruise management to 65 miles per hour, however when the restrict drops to 55 mph, the automotive robotically slows down.
The navigation system options augmented actuality with addresses and instructions laid straight over the forward-facing digital camera show.
Energetic Steer Help will get an replace for the 2020 GLE and now affords full steering help on tighter-radius curves. The Mercedes will even change lanes for you, utilizing the blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping options. All you need to do is activate the flip sign. How straightforward is that?
Voice management and augmented-reality navigation
There is a ton extra tech inside, by the use of Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system. The largest improve right here is the addition of superior voice management — simply say, “Hey, Mercedes,” and use pure speech to manage the local weather capabilities, media, navigation and extra. All I’ve to say is, “Mercedes, activate the massaging seats,” and earlier than I do know it I am receiving a rolling strain level therapeutic massage that does wonders whereas I slog via Bay Space site visitors.
Different Roadshow editors have had average to nice success with the MBUX system, and I will admit, it is hit and miss right here, too. It has no drawback telling me the climate and giving me data after I ask, “Who’s Steph Curry?” However after I ask it to change over to Apple CarPlay, nothing occurs.
The GLE450 affords a pair of 12.Three-inch screens, with a digital gauge cluster in entrance, and the primary MBUX infotainment display screen to the correct. You may management MBUX by way of contact, which is a brand new little bit of tech for Mercedes-Benz, or you should use a central touchpad or smaller thumbpads on the steering wheel. I discover I like utilizing the middle touchpad probably the most, just because I by no means must take my eyes off the highway, in contrast to discovering a spot on the display screen to the touch.
Placing the star entrance and middle.
Although I am normally in favor of utilizing smartphone mirroring for navigation capabilities, the GLE450’s system actually has it occurring. The forward-facing digital camera affords augmented-reality overlay to indicate me precisely the place to show, and the addresses of close by buildings pop up on the display screen so I by no means miss my vacation spot. It is a big step ahead for navigation tech.
In the event you nonetheless favor to depend on your cellphone’s capabilities, each Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are customary, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot and wi-fi charging. It is also value noting that whereas there are a variety of USB charging ports, they’re all the brand new Kind-C design. Have an adapter useful.
Comfy and spacious
The cabin seems to be and feels top-notch, with nice leathers and a lot of completely different wooden and metallic inlay choices. Luxurious options are in nice provide, although a lot of them are non-compulsory extras. My private favourite is the seat kinetics program, which, if you do not have the massaging seats activated, could make minor changes to my driving place so I do not get stiff and tense. Mix that with heated and cooled chairs, in addition to a heated middle console and heated door panel, and heated and cooled cupholders, and I am within the lap of heat and luxurious.
Mercedes’ new Inside Assistant is constructed into the MBUX tech, which might acknowledge hand and arm actions to, say, activate the map lights or deliver up preprogrammed favorites within the infotainment display screen.
You may spec the GLE class with a 3rd row of seats, however my tester has the five-passenger configuration. Head- and legroom are about common for the category — taller people will not have hassle stretching out within the GLE. Cargo house is equally common and satisfactory.
Costly, however value it
The 2020 GLE-Class begins at $53,700 for the GLE350, or $56,200 for the GLE350 4Matic. The GLE450, in the meantime, begins at $61,150, and issues can escalate shortly from there. The tester you see right here has practically $30,000 value of choices, a few of that are extra must-have than others. My excellent GLE450 would have the heated and massaging seats, in addition to the MBUX augmented actuality navigation, which retains the value below $70,000.
So sure, it is costly. However with its absolute onslaught of driver help and infotainment tech, to not point out nice driving dynamics and top-tier luxurious, it feels value each penny.