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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Review

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE ranks at the top of the luxury midsize SUV class. It has well-rounded driving dynamics, muscular engine performance, a spacious and high-end interior, and an excellent predicted reliability rating.

Pros & Cons

  • Muscular engine performance
  • Poised ride and handling
  • Roomy seats and first-rate cabin materials
  • State-of-the-art infotainment system
  • Perfect predicted reliability rating
  • Snug optional third-row seat

8.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.1
Performance: 8.2
Interior: 8.0
Safety: 9.7
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Mercedes-Benz GLE a Good SUV?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is a terrific luxury midsize SUV. Further, it’s one of those rare vehicles with no obvious faults. The GLE has a jaw-dropping interior with top-notch materials, a futuristic yet user-friendly infotainment system, and generous seating and cargo space. It can even seat up to seven passengers when optioned with its third row.

The GLE rides comfortably and quietly over rough pavement and feels reasonably agile and surefooted for such a large SUV. Five engine options are available, ranging from 255 to 603 horsepower, and all zip the SUV around confidently. Even better, the GLE rates highly for predicted reliability, and it’s packed with active safety features.

Why You Can Trust Us: 23 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 23 Mercedes-Benz GLE reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

This 2021 GLE review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLE?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE should be on your short list if you’re shopping for a luxury midsize SUV. It is beautifully trimmed, brimming with tech and safety features, and it’s just as comfortable in day-to-day traffic as it is composed on a winding back road. It isn’t exactly a bargain in this segment – prices start at $54,750 and climb quickly – but the GLE’s overall refinement seems well worth the cost. If you have a tighter budget, consider the Lexus RX 350, Acura MDX, or even Mercedes’ smaller GLB and GLC SUVs.

2020 vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE: What's the Difference?

There are two main differences between the 2020 and 2021 GLE models. For 2021, Mercedes adds the GLE 53 and GLE 63 S trims, which pack brawny 429- and 603-horsepower engines, respectively. The German brand is also reintroducing the GLE’s coupe body style.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 GLE »

Here are the key changes for the Mercedes-Benz GLE over the last few years:

  • 2018: increased horsepower in AMG GLE 43 twin-turbocharged V6 engine
  • 2019: all-wheel drive and twin-turbo V6 engine became standard; GLE 350 and plug-in hybrid discontinued
  • 2020: fully redesigned (start of second generation) with updated styling, longer wheelbase, more passenger space, and an all-new infotainment system; available in GLE 350, GLE 450, and GLE 580 trims
  • 2021: GLE 53 and GLE 63 S trims debut; coupe body style returns

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 GLE, 2019 GLE, and 2020 GLE reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLE Cost?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 has a $54,750 starting price. That’s a bit higher than average for the class. The price climbs to $62,500 for the punchier GLE 450, and it soars past $70,000 for the higher-performance AMG GLE 53 and GLE 580. The range-topping AMG GLE 63 S starts at $113,950 before options.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes deals page.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Versus the Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLE vs. BMW X5

Like the GLE, the BMW X5 is a great option in the luxury midsize SUV segment. Both of these SUVs have muscular engine options, well-rounded handling, and a host of active safety features. Both also offer a lot of cargo room, and they have the flexibility to seat up to seven passengers. The X5 takes a slight edge in terms of infotainment ease of use. On the other hand, the GLE has a higher-end interior, and its starting price undercuts the BMW by a few thousand dollars. Test-drive both models to see which you prefer.

Compare the GLE and X5 »

Mercedes-Benz GLE vs. Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is somewhat of a bargain compared to the GLE. The Q7 has a similar starting price, but it comes standard with all-wheel drive and seven seats, features that you have to pay extra for with the GLE. The Q7 also offers comparable interior quality and a high-tech infotainment system. That said, the Audi doesn’t have as many engine options as the GLE, it provides a bit less cargo space, and it rates below average for predicted reliability. Both SUVs are fine options in this class, but the GLE is a bit better.

Compare the GLE and Q7 »

Compare the GLE, X5, and Q7 »

GLE Interior: First-Class Quietude

GLE Cargo Space

The Mercedes-Benz GLE has 33.3 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats upright and 74.9 cubic feet with those seats folded. That’s much better than average for a luxury midsize SUV, and it’s only a few cubic feet shy of the class-leading Volvo XC90. At this time, exact measurements aren’t available for the GLE coupe, but the cargo area loses space because of the sloping roofline.

How Many People Does the GLE Seat?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is offered in SUV and coupe body styles. Both come standard with five seats, though the SUV model is available with a third row that bumps the seating capacity to seven. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and there’s generous head- and legroom, even for taller occupants. Outward visibility is great to the front and sides, but it’s just OK to the rear.

The second-row seats are similarly spacious and comfortable for adults, even in the coupe model. The optional third row is convenient for occasional use, but its snug legroom is best left to kids and teens. Upgrade to the Mercedes-Benz GLS if you want a roomier third row.

Synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats are standard. Luxe upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, ventilated and massaging front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, heated front armrests, and heated and cooled front cup holders.

GLE and Child Car Seats

The GLE has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the second-row outboard seats and a tether anchor for the second-row middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this setup the top rating of Good for its ease of use.

GLE Interior Quality

The GLE’s modern interior features crisp metal accents, ambient LED lighting, and a widescreen infotainment system. The build quality is impeccable, most surfaces are trimmed with high-end materials, and the switchgear feels substantial to operate. The cabin does an excellent job of muffling road and wind noise, resulting in a quiet and relaxing ride, even at highway speeds.

GLE Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is outfitted with the brand’s new MBUX infotainment system, which features a 12.3-inch touch screen that flows elegantly into a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. This widescreen display has crisp graphics and quick responses. The touch screen can be controlled in multiple ways, including with a touchpad on the center console, buttons on the dashboard and steering wheel, and a voice recognition system that reacts to natural speech.

These redundant controls make the basic audio, navigation, and climate functions fairly easy to use while driving. The sheer volume of menus and functions can be overwhelming though, at least initially. If there is a lingering issue, it’s that the voice recognition system tends to react to unintentional commands, or sometimes not at all.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 12.3-inch touch screen, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, five USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, and wireless device charging
  • Available infotainment features: a 13- or 25-speaker Burmester sound system
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a hands-free power liftgate, and a sunroof
  • Other available features: quad-zone automatic climate control, a cabin air fragrance system, rear sunshades, power soft-close doors, and a panoramic sunroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

GLE Performance: Opposites Attract

GLE Engine

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE has a wide range of engine options. The entry-level GLE 350 comes with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive; all-wheel drive is available. It may be small, but this engine is up to the task of motivating the GLE. There’s ample low-end torque for hauling the SUV around town, and the engine keeps pulling hard at highway speeds. The dash from zero to 60 mph takes 7.1 seconds. The transmission provides smooth and well-timed gear changes as well. That said, the engine sounds a bit strained under hard acceleration.

The GLE 450 is equipped with a 362-horsepower turbocharged inline-six, and it feels like a better fit for the SUV. This engine is exceptionally smooth, and it never feels short on power, even when pulling a trailer or passing another vehicle. Going from zero to 60 mph takes 5.5 seconds. The kicker is that it’s even more fuel-efficient than the four-cylinder engine, owing to its 48-volt mild-hybrid system, called EQ Boost. In essence, this setup provides an extra punch of power when accelerating, it can turn the engine on or off to save fuel in stop-and-go driving, and it recoups battery power when braking or coasting. It all works seamlessly in the background.

The rest of the engine lineup also includes the EQ Boost system, and each is more powerful and sportier than the last. The GLE 53 has a 429-horsepower turbocharged inline-six, and it can hustle from zero to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds. The GLE 580 boasts a 483-horsepower twin-turbo V8. The GLE 63 S packs a 603-horsepower version of that V8, and it slashes the SUV’s zero-to-60 time from 4.9 to just 3.7 seconds. This kind of performance is probably overkill for most drivers, but it does up the SUV’s fun factor considerably.

GLE Gas Mileage

The GLE’s fuel economy ranges from good to poor. The GLE 350 gets an EPA-rated 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The GLE 450 does even better at 21/26 mpg city/highway. The GLE 53 and the GLE 580 return a fair 18/22 mpg and 17/21 mpg, respectively, while the GLE 63 S nets just 15/19 mpg.

GLE Ride and Handling

The Mercedes-Benz GLE succeeds at providing a comfortable ride without sacrificing handling agility, two characteristics that are often at odds with each other. The key to this balance is the GLE’s adaptive suspension. It adjusts quickly to bumps and dips in the road, soaking them up without drama, and it keeps body lean in check when navigating around turns. The optional air suspension does an even better job. It scans the road for irregularities and floats smoothly over rough surfaces. It also allows the SUV to tilt into turns, similar to a motorcycle rider, which practically eliminates body roll and swaying.

Apart from its suspension tricks, the GLE also impresses with responsive and nicely weighted steering. Its brakes provide confident stopping power as well.

GLE Towing Capacity

The Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV can tow up to 7,700 pounds when properly equipped. The one exception is the rear-wheel-drive GLE 350 model, which is rated to tow up to 5,950 pounds.

Read more about performance »

GLE Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLE Reliable?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE has an excellent predicted reliability rating of five out of five.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the GLE with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GLE Safety

GLE Crash Test Results

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE the highest rating of Good in all six crash tests. The GLE received the second-highest rating of Acceptable for how well the standard LED headlights illuminate the road ahead. Models with the optional curve-adaptive headlights earned a Good rating for forward visibility.

The IIHS uses a different scale for grading collision avoidance features. The GLE earned the highest rating of Superior for its standard and optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention systems. The standard vehicle-to-pedestrian system received the lowest rating of Basic, while models with the optional Driver Assistance package earned a Superior rating in this category.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash tested the 2021 GLE.

GLE Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Hands-free park assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Pedestrian detection
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring

Available advanced safety features:

  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Head-up display
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Adaptive pivoting headlights
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Read more about safety »

GLE Dimensions and Weight

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is 16.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 4,608 to 5,390 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2021 GLE in Alabama.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLE Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is offered in two body styles – SUV and coupe – and five trims: GLE 350, GLE 450, GLE 53, GLE 580, and GLE 63 S. Notably, the coupe body style is limited to the GLE 53 and 63 S trims only.

The main difference between these trims is engine performance. The GLE 350 has a punchy four-cylinder engine, the GLE 450 and 53 models have zestier inline-six engines, and the GLE 580 and 63 S models have powerful V8s. We suspect most shoppers will be pleased with the GLE 350. It has sufficient power for everyday driving, many standard amenities and features, and the lowest starting price.

Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 and GLE 350 4Matic

The entry-level GLE 350 SUV starts at $54,750, and its outfitted with a 255-horsepower engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The GLE 350 4Matic variant adds all-wheel drive and costs $57,250.

Standard features include a 12.3-inch touch screen, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, five USB ports, Bluetooth, wireless device charging, HD Radio, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, MB-Tex synthetic leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a sunroof, a hands-free power liftgate, LED headlights, an adaptive suspension, and 19-inch wheels. The GLE also comes standard with a rearview camera, parking sensors, hands-free park assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Options include a pair of third-row seats, genuine leather upholstery, ventilated and massaging front seats, a heated steering wheel, heated front armrests, heated and cooled front cup holders, heated second-row seats, rear sunshades, a cabin air fragrance system, quad-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, two additional USB ports, and a 13-speaker Burmester stereo. A head-up display, a surround-view parking camera system, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, a Class III trailer hitch, and 20- and 21-inch wheels are also available.

Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic

The GLE 450 SUV starts at $62,500, and it comes with a 362-horsepower turbocharged inline-six engine, a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, and all-wheel drive. You can also add power soft-close doors, a sport exhaust, and an adaptive air suspension. All other options carry over.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4Matic

The GLE 53 starts at $72,350 for SUV models and $76,500 for coupe models. This trim packs a 429-horsepower version of the GLE 450’s engine and adds a sport exhaust, an air suspension, a 13-speaker Burmester stereo, red interior stitching, and 20-inch wheels (21-inch wheels for coupe models). In addition to the previously mentioned options, the GLE 53 is available with 22-inch wheels, high-performance brakes, and a 25-speaker Burmester surround-sound system.

Mercedes-Benz GLE 580 4Matic

The GLE 580 SUV starts at $78,450 and features a 483-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine, genuine leather upholstery, and a surround-view parking camera system. Most options carry over unchanged.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S 4Matic

The GLE 63 S starts at $113,950 for SUV models and $116,000 for coupe models. This trim packs a 603-horsepower version of the GLE 580’s engine, along with a limited-slip rear differential, high-performance brakes, adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, ventilated front seats, heated and cooled front cup holders, and rear sunshades. Most options carry over unchanged.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is one of the most well-rounded luxury midsize SUVs available. This Mercedes is very comfortable and relaxing to drive day to day, it has engine power to spare, and it offers many intuitive tech features and a wealth of handy driver assist tech. The interior is spacious, and it’s dressed to the nines with quality materials. The GLE also rates highly for predicted reliability. It’s a line drive down the center of this competitive class, and it deserves consideration.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "To say the new GLE is good is akin to saying the Burj Khalifa is tall. It's a true statement, but you're leaving out most of the story. The [GLE] is in fact somewhere between exceptional and superlative. A real heavyweight in the midsize class. Mercedes-Benz's motto has been ‘The Best or Nothing’ for some time now, and with the exception of the S-Class, it often rings a bit hollow. With the arrival of the new GLE, the marketing slogan will be speaking the truth." -- Motor Trend (2020)
  • "It's a real delight to drive, offering up equal parts futuristic connectivity, plush luxury and engaging driving dynamics. Sure, we don't have flying cars yet, but the 2020 GLE-Class is still a modern marvel of technology." -- CNET (2020)
  • "It provides a driving experience that truly feels luxurious. The GLE glides along, keeping its occupants stable and serene, cosseted in the most opulent and comfortable interior in the segment. So if lavish trimmings and a calm driving experience are your thing, the GLE-Class is king." -- Autoblog (2020)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: January 29, 2021

Steady Demand: Despite struggling sales across the automotive industry, Mercedes-Benz dealerships managed to move about the same number of GLE SUVs last year compared to 2019. The GLE wrapped up 2020 as the third-best selling vehicle in the luxury midsize SUV segment, competing closely with the Acura MDX. The class-leading Lexus RX outsold the GLE by over 2 to 1 last year.

Research more buying advice »
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