Mercedes-Benz GLE (2019) Review

Mercedes-Benz GLE (2019) At A Glance

4/5
Honest John Overall Rating
The GLE is an appealing and desirable car in its own right. However, we do think that the best rivals offer better practicality, marginally better build quality and a more polished driving experience.

+Innovative infotainment system that looks great, appealing range of engines and really efficient PHEV version, spacious for five people and luggage.

-Not as good as a seven-seater; rivals are better, many rivals also more sophisticated to drive, build quality can’t quite match that of the best.

If you’ve previously owned an M-Class, ML or GLE, then the latest Mercedes GLE will feel like a real step on. It’s posher than ever before, better to drive, it has bags of luxury equipment and, like many large SUV rivals, it now offers the option of seven seats, although these should only be used occasionally rather than habitually. Where the GLE really comes into its own, though, is on it’s infotainment technology, with loads of functionality and a good operating system. Strong in a number of areas, then, but it’s still true that in quite a few of them, it still can’t quite match the very best-in-class.

This car has been known by quite a few different names over the years. It was originally launched in 1997 as the M-Class, and later became known as the ML, but as of 2015, Mercedes’ large luxury SUV adopted the GLE moniker. So, although this latest version is technically only the second-generation GLE, you can trace its lineage back much further than that.

Early versions were very successful, too, because back then, big, luxury SUVs were just as desirable as they are today, but they were much fewer in number. These days, however, the GLE has to compete with a vast variety of very talented rivals, so its job is much harder. The question is, does the big Merc have what it takes to compete?

Well one change with the latest GLE already makes it more competitive than before. Where the previous version had only five seats in a class of cars in which seven seats was the norm, the latest GLE gives you that same option.

However, it’s also true that the space surrounding these two extra seats is rather more cramped than it is in rivals, so it's not as practical or as versatile as the best seven-seaters: the extra pair of chairs should only really be viewed as an emergency measure, rather than an everyday one.

The GLE’s cabin is very competitive with rivals’ in other areas, though. It’s classy enough to feel at home in such well-heeled company, and luxury equipment provided as standard is just as generous. What’s more, the GLE’s sophisticated infotainment system provides some real wow-factor, with two high-definition glass-fronted screens that work well and look great.

There’s plenty of choice on engines, too, with various petrol and diesel choices that do a good job in combining prodigious power and impressive refinement with more-than-competitive economy. There’s even a plug-in hybrid variant offered that the official figures claim will do a whopping 66 miles on electric power alone.

That’s a really impressive figure, and so are the combined CO2 emissions of 19g/km and fuel consumption of 257mpg (although both are laboratory figures that will likely never be met in the real world).

Unfortunately, where GLE can’t match its very best rivals is on the road. Don’t get us wrong, this is a good car to drive, with a reasonably comfortable ride and capable handling. It’s just that its best rivals, most notably the Audi Q7, do such an incredible job on that score that the Merc can’t quite measure up.

Ask Honest John

What should I replace my ageing Mercedes-Benz E-Class with?
"I presently have an E Class E320 CDI sport auto. I love it but it's a 2007 reg and has done 82,000 miles. What should I replace it with?"
The obvious choice is another E-Class. The current model is a lovely car, although it's fairly big. Many buyers are now moving towards SUVs - you could also look the Mercedes-Benz GLC or GLE. I'd also recommend visiting a Volvo dealer - most of their range is very good, especially SUVs like the XC40 and XC60.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Mercedes-Benz GLE (2019) cost?