$34,754 - $83,149

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class was new.


Performance: 7.7

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE has plenty of engine options to choose from, all of which provide strong acceleration. Fuel economy is on par with other luxury midsize SUVs. Although the GLE is composed when going through turns, critics say it isn’t particularly sporty. The ride is generally cushy, but that can change when you go over bumps.

  • "If the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE is missing something, it's excitement and emotion. We can't find much fault in how Mercedes has engineered the GLE to meet the needs of well-to-do families in need of both utility and efficiency, and it's hard to blame the company for meeting every expectation without fuss or fanfare. While the rival BMW X5 has a bit more flair for sportiness, Mercedes says it intentionally positioned the GLE on the more comfort-oriented side of the spectrum." -- Automobile Magazine (2016)
  • The GLE drives like an SUV. It feels heavy and solid and comfortable." -- Motor Trend (2016)
  • "All in all, the 2016 GLE Coupe is an interesting piece of SUV/car chimera, and despite niggling complaints, it's enjoyable to drive and comfortable to ride in." -- Yahoo Autos (2016)

Acceleration and Power

There are quite a few engine choices with the Mercedes-Benz GLE. GLE350 models have a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. It has decent acceleration and delivers an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, which is average for the luxury midsize SUV class. Upgrade to the GLE400 for a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that produces 329 horsepower with snappy acceleration.

The GLE550e is the plug-in hybrid version, and it pairs a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine and an electric motor, producing an impressive 436 horsepower. The EPA has not yet released fuel economy estimates for the GLE550e, but Mercedes-Benz claims 39 mpg-e in the city and 50 mpg-e on the highway. All GLE models have a stop-start feature that shuts off the engine when the SUV slows to a stop, to help conserve gas. Compared to other vehicles with stop-start mechanisms, the GLE’s isn’t as seamless. When it shuts off, the steering wheel locks up, which could be alarming. Once you take your foot off the brake, the wheel unlocks. This feature can be turned off, but doing so will come at the expense of fuel efficiency.

Critics praise three performance-oriented trims for their incredible horsepower. The AMG GLE43 is available only as a Coupe, and it has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that makes 362 horsepower. While this model uses a nine-speed automatic transmission, the rest of the GLE lineup uses the standard seven-speed automatic. Available in SUV form, the AMG GLE63 comes with a 5.5-liter 550-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine. For the most powerful GLE, check out the AMG GLE63 S, which uses a modified version of the V8 engine to produce 577 horsepower.

When road conditions change, four driving modes help customize the GLE on the fly. There’s Comfort, Sport, Slippery, and Individual modes. If the GLA is a 4MATIC, it will have a fifth mode for off-roading.

  • "On the straight-out performance front, the GLE350'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 GLE400 feels downright quick, and the V8-powered AMG models deliver blazing acceleration anytime you feel the need." -- Edmunds
  • [The GLE550e Hybrid is] the quickest of the full-roof GLEs, and if the mileage justifies the entry price, why not? We found no visceral or functional differences compared to its straight IC partners, save one. The battery takes eight cubic feet of cargo space, all behind the back seat, and it reduces what's there by a third. It also raises the load floor close to a foot above the bumper." -- AutoWeek (2016)
  • "If this were my daily-driver, I'd turn off the engine stop-start system every time. It's clunky and unrefined, especially because when it shuts off the vehicle, the steering wheel doesn't move, creating a moment of panic every time you pull on the wheel and it feels locked. (As soon as you take your foot off the brake, the vehicle quickly starts and the wheel moves again.)" -- Motor Trend (2016)

Handling and Braking

Although the GLE rides comfortably most of the time, rough surfaces or uneven pavement hurt ride quality. Mercedes enables you to modify the suspension on the fly, using either Sport or Comfort mode. In Sport mode, the GLE has firmer handling than in Comfort mode, which favors better ride quality. In the upper trims, an air suspension delivers the most cushioned ride. 

Steering is not particularly sporty with the base model. Some critics say the GLE feels composed when driving on curvy roads, but other reviewers say it feels pushed to the limits. Although the steering offers good feedback, it is over-assisted. In Sport mode, steering improves, but it’s not a dramatic change. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

  • "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." -- Edmunds
  • The ride remains as pillowy as ever with the optional air suspension in comfort mode. Sport mode brings tidier body motions and a bit more communication from the chassis, although the steering remains slow off-center and aloof regardless of the setting." -- Car and Driver (2016)
  • Although I did not like the feel of the GLE Coupes' steering, I thought the regular GLE's steering felt comfortably numb. I did not have the same expectations in this SUV and thus, the additional play on the wheel was perfectly acceptable." -- Motor Trend (2016)

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