The 2019 GLE-Class ranges from tree-hugger to tire scorcher, with a variety of powertrains and plenty of performance if desired. We rate it 7 out of 10 for its wide spectrum of powerplants and its quiet, refined ride. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The GLE350’s base powertrain is a 3.5-liter V-6 with 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes claims it will take the SUV from 0-60 mph in around 7.5 seconds. Power is routed through a smooth 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Also in SUV form, the plug-in hybrid GLE 550e adds electric motors and lithium-ion batteries to the V-6 engine, which creates 436 hp and up to 21 miles of driving on electric power only. There are four driving modes that help with things like battery charging or to conserve power. Charging takes about two hours at household-outlet power levels.
The GLE550e experience isn’t as well-choreographed as it is with other GLE models. The available power isn’t completely usable without selecting the right driving mode, but the GLE550e will still crack off a 0-60 mph time of 5.3 seconds.
Both the SUV and Coupe models can be massaged by AMG, which spices up the mix considerably. The GLE43 gets a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque; it pushes its power through a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. It’s a potent combination and is good enough for a 5.6-second 0-60 mph time.
The top GLE-Class models are the GLE63 and GLE63S. Their twin-turbo V-8 engines scream out 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque in the GLE63 or 577 hp and 561 lb-ft in the S variant. Acceleration is prolific, with the GLE63S reaching 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. Straight-line performance isn’t quite as scorching as the Cayenne Turbo, but it’s thrilling nonetheless.
The GLE-Class offers Individual, Comfort, Slippery, Sport, and Sport + modes to generate the most traction in a given situation. The modes control the powertrain and steering, as well as the suspension and drivetrain.
Towing, ride, and handling
Mercedes’ all-wheel-drive system shifts power between the wheels a bit differently between the GLE models. In general, power is split between the front and rear 50:50, but AMG models prioritize rear drive at 40:60. Both systems can move power almost completely to the rear for more traction. Towing is rated at 7,200 pounds on the most capable models.
On balance, the GLE-Class SUVs are acceptably rugged and perform well on trails and paths that are far more intense than most owners will ever subject them to. The base steel-coil suspension brings a predictably stiff SUV-like ride, but most models offer adaptive dampers or even air springs in some cases.
The variance in ride quality between modes with air suspension and adaptive damping is broad. Comfort brings a soft, luxurious ride, while Sport sharpens things up considerably without sacrificing overall ride quality.
Steering is a similar story, with Comfort mode requiring more adjustments that we’d like to remain centered, while Sport mode is less busy and more settled.
AMG has added a Sport+ mode to the models it’s tinkered with. There, an active anti-roll system pushes down against cornering forces and helps keep the vehicle planted. Even with some stray motion in the suspension, the system keeps the SUV composed under even the most spirited driving conditions.
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