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Mercedes-Benz GLE (2023 - ) review

The updated GLE SUV becomes slightly better looking and slightly more efficient, and remains one of the best luxury cars on sale

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Additional words by: Auto Trader

Published on 16 October 2023 | 0 min read

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4

Available new from £75,445

It’s been more than four years since Mercedes-Benz brought the current GLE to market, so it’s overdue an update. Here it is, but you’d be forgiven for squinting your eyes and asking “what’s the difference?” There are some, of course, but they’re mainly cosmetic, outside and in. It’s the usual stuff: bumpers and grille are a little different, LED light strips front and back are too, new wheel designs, and a new steering wheel with four rows of buttons. Much like the game show of the same name, the wheel is confusing at first – an information overload – but quickly becomes intuitive because it’s actually very simple. The question is, does the GLE update do enough to sway someone from the main SUVs it competes with, namely the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery. Each brilliant, and each very popular. Spoiler alert: it does.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickSublime comfort in most situations
  • tickAugmented reality sat nav is proper impressive
  • tickBeautifully high-quality interior

At a glance:

Running costs for a Mercedes-Benz GLE

Not a cheap car to run by any means, but this is the sector we’re in – the massive, luxury SUV one
You’d expect the running costs of this, a large Mercedes-Benz SUV with up to seven seats, to be on the high side. And they are. But the engine choices go some way to mitigating costs if that’s what you want to do. For a start, there’s huge variation in the asking prices, from £78,000 for a GLE 300d diesel at the bottom end, to the £144,000 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. Broadly, you’ll get 35mpg from the diesel and 18mpg if you’re lucky from the AMG. So, not a cheap car to run by any means, but this is the sector we’re in – the massive, luxury SUV one. The engine range is wide, spanning from a four-cylinder diesel to a twin-turbo petrol V8, but thankfully there’s a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) too. The 400e PHEV makes the most sense from a running costs perspective, by far, and is the de facto company car choice. You should take the 282.5mpg official consumption rating with a pinch of salt, but the 66-mile electric-only range is usefully high, and the 23g/km CO2 rating puts it in a low benefit-in-kind bracket – just 8%, as compared to 37% for a 300d. Our in-depth article explains all about how plug-in hybrids work.
Expert rating: 2/5

Reliability of a Mercedes-Benz GLE

Mercedes generally doesn’t tend to feature as highly in owner reliability surveys as you might expect
Despite the GLE’s three-year manufacturer warranty looking on the short side – most manufacturers offer between five and seven these days – it does cover unlimited mileage. It includes roadside assistance for that period too, and Mercedes also offers an extended warranty, which can be taken out for 12- or 24 months, or even on a rolling month-by-month basis. The battery in the plug-in hybrid version is covered separately, for six years or 62,000 miles. Mercedes generally doesn’t tend to feature as highly in owner reliability surveys as you might expect, but the company resolves issues quickly. The GLE is a complicated car, mechanically and electrically, but it’s halfway through its lifecycle now, and thanks to a series of recalls you should expect 2023 cars (and onwards) to prove generally reliable.
Expert rating: 3/5

Safety for a Mercedes-Benz GLE

As one of the company’s most luxurious and most expensive cars, the GLE is accordingly stuffed with safety systems
Mercedes-Benz has always been a safety pioneer – it invented the airbag – and as one of the company’s most luxurious and most expensive cars, the GLE is accordingly stuffed with safety systems. Pretty much every part of every occupant is protected by an airbag, and it has a ‘pre-safe’ system that will automatically apply the brakes in a crash as well as pre-tensioning the seatbelts. There are sensors all over the place, including for tiredness recognition and lane-keeping assist. It performs excellently in crash tests – a full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP – and all versions are four-wheel drive, which helps with traction and handling stability in all situations. And because the driving position is especially high, your view of the road ahead is excellent. On a more practical level, though, we’d suggest that the Mercedes infotainment system isn’t the most intuitive to use, requiring you to gaze at the big central touchscreen a little too long to change a radio station, say. That said, you can mitigate that by using “Hey Mercedes” voice commands – it’s one of the best of these things.
Expert rating: 5/5

How comfortable is the Mercedes-Benz GLE

At town speeds it’s positively glorious, with a sense of sumptuousness and serenity that you only get with a big, luxury SUV
Comfort is a slightly mixed experience in the GLE. It’s one of those cars that you’ll be instantly impressed by during the first few yards, because of its combination of ultra-soft ride quality, very light steering, comfy seats and excellent high-set driving position. At town speeds it’s positively glorious, with a sense of sumptuousness and serenity that you only get with a big, luxury SUV. Same goes for a steady motorway run. That said, there’s so much body roll that speed humps can get tiresome, because the car takes a couple of ‘bounces’ to settle back down. The same applies on higher-speed roads, where the body never quite seems as firmly planted as you want it to be, even with standard adaptive air suspension set to ‘sport’ mode. That might not bother you – cornering capability is never a big SUV's specialism – but you will find that a BMW X5 is more ‘fun’ and a Volvo XC90 rolls around less. The GLE is massive inside though, capable of carrying five adults in space and comfort. The seven-seat versions don’t have as much space in the rearmost seats as a Land Rover Discovery - they’re ‘occasional use only’, really.
Expert rating: 4/5

Features of the Mercedes-Benz GLE

Every GLE has more stuff bundled into it than an Amazon distribution centre - too much to list
Despite the GLE being about the least ‘sporty’ car imaginable, Mercedes has preceded every trim level with ‘AMG’ – those three letters denoting the company’s performance car division. It makes them all look good, at least, because they all get big wheels (20- to 22 inches) and AMG body styling. Every GLE has more stuff bundled into it than an Amazon distribution centre - too much to list . To give you an idea though, the standard stereo is a top-end Burmeister surround system, there’s a built-in dashcam, the sat nav has a clever augmented reality system that overlays directions onto real-time footage, and even the rear seats are electrically adjustable. AMG Line Premium and Premium Plus specs add things like soft close doors, temperature-controlled cupholders, and heated front armrests. Leather upholstery is standard, and nobody will know that the ‘leather’ that the dashboard is swathed in is actually fake unless you tell them.
Expert rating: 5/5

Power for a Mercedes-Benz GLE

We’d say the GLE 450d is the pick. It’s a smooth and quiet six-cylinder diesel with 387 horsepower and a real-world 30mpg
There’s no such thing as a slow GLE – even the 300d has 550Nm of torque, equalling a 6.9 second 0-62mph time. The 400e PHEV does it in 6.1 seconds. That’s the version we’ve spent most time with, and although it feels very powerful when the 2.0-litre engine and electric motor are working in tandem, the engine is a little on the noisy side. And if you’re looking to accelerate quickly, there’s a bit of a gap between the moment you put your foot down and the moment the drivetrain figures itself out and propels you forward. The gearbox – a nine-speed automatic in every version – works through all those gears with impressive smoothness. Unless you’re looking at one of the Mercedes-AMG versions, which have all the speed and engine histrionics you’d expect (especially the 634 horsepower 63 S), we’d say the GLE 450d is the pick. It’s a smooth and quiet six-cylinder diesel with 387 horsepower, 750Nm of torque, insane turn of pace (0-62mph in 5.6 seconds) and a real-world 30mpg.
Expert rating: 4/5