$46,006 - $89,219

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class was new.


Performance: 7.8

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE has plenty of engine options to choose from, most of which provide strong acceleration (the base engine has merely adequate power). 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.

  • "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

Each GLE trim comes with its own engine. GLE 350 models have a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is OK, but this engine doesn’t move the vehicle with any verve.

There are three performance trims, all of which have more power. The AMG GLE 43 comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 385 horsepower. This is the only model to come with a nine-speed automatic transmission instead of a seven-speed. The AMG GLE 63 comes with a 550-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8. Finally, there’s the AMG GLE 63 S, which uses a modified version of the V8 engine to produce 577 horsepower.

You can even get a GLE hybrid if you’d like. The GLE 550e is a plug-in hybrid, and it pairs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine with an electric motor. They combine to produce 436 horsepower.

To help conserve gas, all GLE models have a stop-start feature that shuts off the engine when the SUV stops. 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. You can turn off this feature, but doing so comes at the expense of fuel efficiency.

The GLE 350 has the best fuel economy of the nonhybrid powertrains. It gets an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those ratings are well behind the class leaders, but they’re comparable to what many other luxury midsize SUVs earn.

Gas mileage drops off a bit with the AMG GLE 63’s V8, which earns 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway. The 2018 GLE 550e can drive up to 8 miles on electric power alone, and it returns 21 mpg (combined city/highway) when driving in hybrid mode.

  • "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 … feels downright quick, and the V8-powered AMG models deliver blazing acceleration anytime you feel the need." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "We found no visceral or functional differences [with the hybrid] 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

Rear-wheel drive comes standard in this Mercedes-Benz, and all-wheel drive is available. Many class rivals are more athletic than the GLE. It’s poised on winding roads, but there’s plenty of body lean if you try to aggressively tackle corners. Ride quality is mediocre by Mercedes standards. It’s great over smooth roads, but when the pavement gets rough, ride quality drops off. The GLE lets you choose between multiple driving modes that alter the suspension toward better handling or a smoother ride. Higher trims have an air suspension that feels incredibly cushioned.

  • "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 (2017)
  • "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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