The Mercedes-Benz GLE sport-utility vehicle will make its debut at New York Auto Show, which wraps up this weekend, taking the place of the Mercedes ML. The GLE will offer a selection of gas and diesel engines, as well as a hybrid that arrives later this year. Everything besides that hybrid will launch in August. Don’t confuse the GLE with the GLE Coupe, which made its debut earlier this year at the Detroit auto show.
Trim-wise, the GLE will line up with others in the company’s stable, at least with numbers you’ll recognize. The GLE300d is the diesel; GLE350 and GLE400 are the main gasoline models. The hybrid is called GLE550e and two AMG models will wear GLE63 and GLE63 S badges.
Starting with the engine choices, the 300d gets a 2.1-liter turbocharged four making 201 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque at just 1,600 rpm. A seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive make it good for an 8.9-second sprint to 60 mph. The GLE350 comes with the expected 3.5-liter V6 making 302 hp and 273 lb-ft while the GLE400 gets a twin turbo 3.0-liter six delivering 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Somehow, they’re both good for a 7.5-second sprint. The AMG models get the company’s 5.5-liter twin turbo engine making 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque; the GLE63 S gets 577 hp and 561 lb-ft. Both 0-to-60 times are in the low 4-second range. All-wheel drive is optional on the 350, standard on the 300d, 400 and the AMGs.
The GLE550e hybrid won’t go on sale until September. It’s powered by the 329-hp twin-turbo V6, but delivers 479 lb-ft of torque with help from the hybrid system. That system, good for about 18 miles of electric driving, relies on an 8.8 kwh battery that can be recharged in two hours on a 220-volt outlet. Mercedes didn’t say, but we assume charging on a standard outlet will take considerably longer.
The GLE550e has four driving modes. Hybrid mode automatically selects the most sensible operating mode with combustion engine and/or electric motor for optimizing the overall energy balance. E-Mode is for all-electric driving. E-Save preserves the current state of charge of the battery to be able to drive on all-electric power at a later time, for example in urban traffic, and Charge powers up the battery both while driving and when the vehicle is stationary.
Like past Merc SUVS, the GLE features the Dynamic Select system that adjusts between individual, comfort, slippery and sport. 4Matic models get off-road and models with the Off-Road Engineering package get off-road plus. In this setting, the off-road reduction gear and a 100% inter-axle differential lock come into play to generate high traction over challenging terrain. AMG models get a sport plus mode as well.
All modes are shown on the media display with parameters like slope angle, tilt angle, steering angle and heading, all in real time. An Airmatic air suspension is optional, as is the Active Curve System. Both work constantly to keep the car safe and level, no matter the pavement or g forces in a turn. Current conditions are detected via a steering angle sensor, four rotation sensors, the driving speed from the ESP signal and the brake pedal switch. AMG models get AMG Ride Control, which adds special struts exclusive to AMG.
Inside, the company has integrated the media display, which we’ve been complaining about, so thanks, Mercedes. Color choices include ginger beige, espresso brown, saddle brown and porcelain. Aluminum trim is standard, piano black and wood are both optional.
Mercedes offers the Driving Assistance package, which includes Distronic Plus cruise control and other stuff, the Comfort Package, including the easy-pack liftgate, soft-closing doors and more, and the Parking Package, which adds Parktronic, 360-degree camera and the like, to customize the SUV. The AMG Line option adds AMG cosmetic tweaks to your non-AMG model.
The real AMGs come standard with nappa sport seats, AMG badges, paddle shifters and a few other AMG-specific items, including a 200 mph speedometer, though top speed is still rated at 155 mph. Like we said, the GLE line will go on sale in August, except for the hybrid, which goes on sale in September.