2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4MATIC: Easy Choice

  • The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is priced from $69,900 in Canada, and $54,750 in the United States.

  • The GLE is the oldest choice among luxury mid-size SUVs.

  • The Mercedes-Benz GLE seriously outsells the BMW X5 in Canada.

It really seems to me that the Mercedes-Benz GLE (aka M and ML) has been around forever. The truth is, it’s been a preferred choice in the premium mid-size, high-volume, heavy-duty SUV segment since it was introduced nearly 25 years ago.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

It is this class that can make or break a luxury car maker. For many brands like Audi, Acura, BMW, Lexus, Jaguar, Benz, and a few others, midsize two- and three-row SUVs account for the bulk of their sales. And while the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 may not be the top sellers in their segment, that honor belongs to the Lexus RX, they are arguably more desirable if mostly for the prestige associated with the brands.

Prestigious and craftsmanship

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is one of the innovative classes launched in early 1997, almost two years before the BMW X5. Its permanent status could help explain why the GLE has outsold BMW by more than 40% so far in 2021. Another factor is its old-world, royal elegance.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

current 4y The GLE generation is the most visually arranged iteration of an SUV. Benz designers managed to maintain the status of the majestic car presented with 3research and development Gel but blends into smoother lines and surfaces. The GLE’s design appeals to buyers conscious of brilliance over ostentatious styling, leaving the logo on the front grille to do most of the talking.

The only visual drawback of the GLE 350 we tested is that it’s black, at least in my opinion. Among the highlights are the optional Sport Package which adds AMG body design and 20-inch AMG twin-spoke pneumatic wheels.

Welcome technology and luxury

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

Refinement, elegance and agility are also found in the interior of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE. The wide angle of the GLE’s instrument panel reveals hassle-free surfaces, simple design and craftsmanship. Here, too, this approach could explain why the GLE outperformed the X5. The latter’s busier center console can be a turn off for older buyers.

As standard, the 2021 GLE is equipped with two 12.3-inch screens, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience System (MBUX) with navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and much more. The two screens are perfectly integrated into their surroundings, and accessing the menus is as simple as using the touchpad or directly via the touch screen. Despite the relatively sparse dashboard, the handling of the GLE is anything but intimidating. It is also very comfortable and welcoming for all passengers. There is plenty of room for everyone and everything.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

One gets the impression that living with a Mercedes-Benz GLE would be fine. Whether it’s because of the branding or the quality included, the senses are practically calmed once you’re on board. And once launched, the GLE 350 again remains uncomplicated.

4 cylinders surprise

I was very happy to review the GLE 350 if mostly because we got so close to trying the base engines and lower trims. The 350 in the name refers to the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. or torque. I’ll admit I expected a lot less from the 2.0T but the truth is that it responds great in real-world conditions. Although the GLE filters the scale at more than 4,700 pounds, it does move.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

The 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission with 9 speeds and 4MATIC AWD system effortlessly puts the power to good use. If pushed hard enough, the GLE 350 will hit 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds, and when ready, it will tow up to 6000 lbs. Finally, in mixed driving, this luxury SUV will consume approximately 10 l / 100 km.

If for some the power number is a compromise, the ride quality won’t be affected. In fact, the GLE 350 is as refined and smooth as one would expect a Mercedes-Benz to be. It includes adaptive dampers that provide a truly comfortable driving experience. An optional air suspension system would elevate the GLE’s ride comfort, but even without it, the comfort level is impressive.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

All the controls including the steering and brakes look like nice extensions to the driver. Most functions can be set via the DYNAMIC SELECT multi-mode drive selector and the best way to experience the GLE is through the dedicated individual mode.

The Mercedes-Benz GLE feels good

The Canadian base price of the GLE is about $8,000 less than the base BMW X5. Although this may be an argument in favor of Benz, realistically very few people buy one of these vehicles. The GLE is coveted for the Mercedes-Benz name and the fact that it is prestigious and comfortable enough for everyday use.

If, like me, you’d prefer more driver involvement, the BMW X5 will have you covered. For everyone else, there’s the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE or, alternatively, the Lexus RX.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 | Photo: Oliver DeLorme

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