Review: Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019)
Surprisingly capable off-road. Luxurious cabin. Impressive V6 diesel.
Ride can be choppy on poor roads. Boot space on hybrid models is poor. BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 offer better value for money.
Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019): At A Glance
- New prices start from £67,680, brokers can source from £50,503
- Contract hire deals from £505.72 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 41–50
- On average it achieves 66% of the official MPG figure
The Mercedes-Benz GLE replaces the ML with a heavily revised exterior, new engines and more safety kit as standard. However, despite the new name, the GLE is mechanically the same. That means it suffers from the same problems as its predecessor, with poor value for money being its biggest pitfall.
All models get all-wheel drive as standard and the engine line-up includes the familiar 2.1-litre and 3.0-litre V6 diesels from the ML line-up. However, buyers also get the choice of a new plug-in petrol hybrid which combines a 3.0-litre V6 petrol with an electric motor to return 78g/km of CO2 and 76.4mpg.
The 350d - powered by the excellent V6 diesel - is the best engine in the GLE range, combining a hefty 258PS with good all-round refinement and quiet running at low speeds. Not only is the power delivery seamlessly smooth, thanks to a new nine-speed automatic transmission, but the V6 returns a nice rumble as you venture towards its maximum 620Nm of torque. Frugal drivers are also rewarded, with up to 44.1mpg and 169g/km of CO2 according to the claimed figures.
The plug-in hybrid improves economy and emissions further, offering an all-electric range of 18 miles, which will appeal to company car drivers. However, the 500e is let down by a small boot, with its battery pack reducing storage from 690 litres down to 480 litres.
The interior is luxurious and opulent though, with the dashboard dominated by a large infotainment screen atop a familiar Mercedes-Benz centre console. All models get deep, plush leather seats that are among the most comfortable around, while the infotainment system is easy to master, helped by a central touchpad.
The GLE gets a decent level of equipment as standard and entry-level Sport models are fitted with heated front seats, a powered tailgate, rear privacy glass and a rearview camera. The GLE also gets some useful safety systems, with a crosswind assist package and a warning collision warning system that will alert the driver if the car detects an oncoming object.
Refined, comfortable and capable, the stylish GLE adds some much zest to the weary ML formula, but some of the old faults remain, with an unsettled ride on rough roads and disappointing performance from the entry-level 2.1 diesel.
However, the GLE’s real problems starts when you compare it to its rivals. Both the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 are cheaper, more efficient and better value, which makes it difficult to justify the significant sum of money needed to obtain the GLE’s star performer, the 350d.
What does a Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019) cost?
Buy a used Mercedes-Benz GLE from £35,449
Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019): What's It Like Inside?
The GLE is luxurious and vast, with deep leather seats and acres of head and leg room for those in the front and rear. In fact, few other SUVs in this SUV sector can match it for cabin comfort, which is high praise when you consider how highly we rate the interiors of Audi and Range Rover.
The front seats get plenty of adjustment and higher trim models have a plethora of options, which include leather sports seats, heating for the rear seats and multi-contour finishes with a massage setting. The GLE will easily take five adults and all of the seats are reinforced with a wide base, plenty of back support and cushioned head rests.
General visibility is good, with the large windscreen and side windows ensuring a wide view of the road. Parking sensors are standard, along with a rearview camera which makes it simple to reverse, without hitting a wayward kerb.
The dashboard can feel a little overwhelming, with dozens of buttons and switches, but it's easy to acclimatise to the logical and well-presented layout. We do think Mercedes-Benz could dispense with half a dozen buttons without impacting the operations of the cabin though.
The dashboard is dominated by an eight-inch colour infotainment screen, which is operated via a large dial in the centre console complete with a touchpad. The screen is clear and the dial works well, but we found the touchpad to be awkward with the pointer juddering each time you tried to lift your hand and place it back on the pad. In comparison, the systems employed by Audi and BMW are better.
The back seats are almost as spacious as those found in the front, with lots of leg, shoulder and head room, which should make the GLE a comfortable car to carry the family in. The 690-litre boot is bigger than that found in the X5, but smaller than the 775-litre boot found in the XC90. However, the GLE beats both the BMW and Volvo for outright space, with 2010 litres on offer. That said, folding the rear seats flat takes a bit of work with the base needing to be moved.
Hybrid models are hindered on luggage space, with the battery situated in the rear. As a result bootspace falls to a disappointing 480 litres, which makes it 100 litres smaller than a Skoda Octavia hatch. Getting to the load area is easy though, thanks to the powered tailgate that lifts by the press of a button or via a sensor beneath the boot.
Sport is the entry-level trim and gets 19-inch alloy wheels in himalaya grey with 255/50 tyres, mirror package – including projection of Mercedes-Benz logo integrated into both mirrors, Active Parking Assist with Parktronic and reversing camera, Adaptive highbeam assist plus, Dynamic select with a choice of driving modes, a powered tailgate, LED headlamps, privacy glass, Command online with eight-inch display, DAB, heated leather front seats, leather rear seats, automatic climate control and a touchpad with multi-touch control.
AMG Line adds 20-inch AMG alloy wheels with 265/45 tyres, AMG bodystyling comprising AMG-specific front and rear apron with side sill panels painted in the vehicle colour, air suspension, ambient lighting, AMG floor mats with ‘AMG’ lettering, brushed stainless-steel sports pedals with rubber studs and leather sports seats.
Designo Line includes parking assist with 360° camera, closing aid for doors and boot lid, panoramic electric sunroof with interior sun blind, running boards with rubber studs, heated rear seats, multi-contour front seats with massage function, memory function for front seats, temperature-controlled cup holders for driver and front passenger plus a Harman Kardon Logic surround sound system.
Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019) like to drive?
The GLE is offered with four engines, with the familiar 2.1-litre and 3.0-litre diesels offered alongside an all-new plug-in petrol-hybrid. There's also a new AMG 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 for those who want their 2.3 tonne SUV to rocket from 0-62mph in four seconds.
The 2.1-litre diesel is the entry-level powertrain and powers the 250d. The engine is effectively the same as the one found in the old ML, albeit with some slight improvements in economy and emissions. The four-cylinder engine provides 204PS and returns an official 49.5mpg , while emissions are 149g/km of CO2.
On paper the 250d will be the default choice for many looking for conservative performance and low running costs. But the turbocharged 2.1-litre engine is difficult to recommend due to a loud clatter at idle, poor refinement and flat performance. With 500Nm of torque from 1600rpm, the engine pushes along at lower speeds with the necessary zip, but it’s no match for the six-cylinder diesel found in the entry-level BMW X5 or the Volvo XC90's D5.
The 3.0-litre V6 - found in the 350d - has also been carried over from the ML and is by far the best diesel in the range, with plenty of power and a smooth, refined operation. Indeed, with 258PS and 620Nm of torque, the V6 provides all the grunt you'll ever need in the GLE, with ample acceleration for overtaking and refined motorway cruising.
It's also extremely relaxed in the lower gears, while economy is reasonable with up to 44.1mpg and 169g/km of CO2. Yet, again, the XC90 D5 and X5 xDrive30d offer similar performance for less money.
Both the 250d and 350d are linked to a new nine-speed automatic gearbox that is a big step up over the old 7G-Tronic gearbox. The new gearbox also reduces engine noise, with the GLE sitting at 2000rpm on the motorway, which makes even the 250d quiet at cruising speeds.
The 500e plug-in hybrid combines a turbocharged 333PS V6 petrol with a 116PS electric motor to provide 480PS and impressive acceleration with 0-62mph taking 5.3 seconds. The 500e has an all-electric range of 18 miles and will return up to 76.4mpg, while emitting a London Congestion Charge avoiding 78g/km of CO2. The hybrid works extremely well in the GLE and is silent in electric mode, with a smooth transition from battery to petrol power.
Thrill seekers can spec up to the AMG 5.5-litre V8 biturbo petrol engine, with a supercar rivalling 585PS that will fire the big SUV from zero to 62mph in 4.2 seconds before thundering on to an electronically limited 155mph.
Although few will ever be taken off-road, the GLE can be used as a full fat 4x4 with the optional off-roading package. The system adds low-range gears, changeable ride heights and hill descent control, which will let the GLE munch through muddy fields and tackle steep inclines.
On British roads, the GLE works best with 19-inch wheels and adaptive air suspension, although the ride is always on the firm side of comfortable. However, the GLE corners better than the ML ever did, with minimal body learn and an agile turn in.
The ride does have a tendency to unsettle on harsh road surfaces, which means the GLE does often bounce along. But for the most part, the GLE hides its considerable weight well. It also manoeuvres well for a large SUV and is nimble enough at low speeds, although its sheer size makes it a challenge to squeeze into multi-storey car parks or tight streets.
|GLE 250 d||48 mpg||8.6 s||155–156 g/km|
|GLE 250 d AMG||48 mpg||8.6 s||156 g/km|
|GLE 300 d||36–37 mpg||7.2 s||162 g/km|
|GLE 350 d||43 mpg||7.1 s||179 g/km|
|GLE 350 d AMG||37 mpg||7.1 s||192 g/km|
|GLE 43 AMG||32–33 mpg||5.7 s||199–205 g/km|
|GLE 450||33–34 mpg||5.7 s||191–209 g/km|
|GLE 500e||76 mpg||5.3 s||84 g/km|
|GLE 500e AMG||76 mpg||5.3 s||84 g/km|
|GLE 63 AMG||24 mpg||4.2 s||276 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz GLE (2015 – 2019)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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Are the fuel economy figures for the Mercedes-Benz GLE 500e Hybrid true?
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