2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE Driving Impressions

In any form, the GLE delivers a quiet, comfortable, well-composed ride. Predictable highway behavior is the rule, though suspensions feel a trifle softer than some rivals.

Considering its rugged capabilities, a GLE performs masterfully on the road. Six-cylinder GLEs have steel springs, yielding a comfortable ride. AMG editions get air springs with continuously variable damping (optional for V6 models). Roadholding is most impressive in AMG models, without excessive loss of ride comfort, though the busy suspension can affect stability on straightaways.

As many as five driving modes are available: Individual, Comfort, Slippery, Sport, and Sport+. They can alter powertrain, chassis, steering, and suspension, and modify engine sound. Comfort mode provides a more traditional luxury ride, but tends to demand numerous small adjustments to stay on course. Sport mode provides a crisper feel and a more relaxed ride, adding only a touch of harshness

The GLE350’s V6 engine ranks among the best in its category, capable of accelerating to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds. Mercedes-AMG versions are far quicker. Power arrives strongly in GLE43 models, which come across as performance machines, more than everyday drivers. Sport mode makes it noisier, but 60 mph is reached in 5.6 seconds.

Moving up to GLE63 level slashes that acceleration figure to just over 4 seconds. Coupes are offered only in top-performance trim. Even the GLE550e plug-in hybrid is a strong performer, though its powertrain feels a trifle less coordinated. Most GLE SUVs are rated to tow up to 7,200 pounds.

Fuel economy trails some competitors. The base GLE350 is EPA-rated at 18/23 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops those figures to 18/22/19 mpg. The Mercedes-AMG GLE43 is EPA-rated at 17/23 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined, while the GLE63 manages only 13/17/15 mpg. The GLE550e plug-in hybrid is EPA-rated at 21 mpg combined (43 MPGe).

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