Photo Gallery: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Review | 16 photos
Photo Gallery: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Review | 16 photos
- E-Active Body Control is even more impressive when taken seriously
- MBUX is still the best infotainment system on the market
- 4Matic has great handling for a car of this size
- HUD can be overwhelming
- We’ll be burdened with GLEs dance videos
- Road-based speed adaptation is still very careful when cornering
The new Mercedes GLE (starting at $53,700) looks like any other SUV update, but under its attractive new design is a vehicle packed with features that include the new MBUX infotainment system and the impressive E-Active Body Control that makes the turn. … strange but better. Oh, and this “dance”, will actually help you get out of the sandpit.
The new suspension system controls each wheel’s spring and damping force independently. It’s how a car can dance. This demo you mentioned – although strange – was a good representation of what E-Active Body Control can do. Inside the car, you can recreate that jig by playing the height of each corner of the GLE in real time. Useful while driving off-road with one tire stuck in a ditch.
The real fun comes when you put the car in off-road mode and turn on the swing feature. It basically bounces SUV up and down. This is when the vehicle is stuck in sand or fine dirt and compresses the terrain giving the vehicle more traction to free itself. Sadly, Mercedes didn’t have a sandpit to try this feature out, instead, I just stopped on the side of the road and tried it until I stopped laughing.
The thing is, I actually used this method as a teenager to help my friends disassemble their trucks from mud, sand, and even snow. It worked at the time and I’m sure it probably would without a bunch of teens bouncing up and down the back of a pickup truck. At least the chance of falling out of the car will be lower.
One hanging trick you can’t do with a group of friends is the new Curve feature. When you are turning around a turn, the car is already leaning into it. Like anything else with the new E-Active Body Control suspension, it’s weird at first. But, after about an hour, you miss it as soon as you turn it off. It is not available in Sport mode, so it is not really designed for aggressive driving, but for touring, it reduces the inclination of passengers during cornering of the car.
You can push the GLE into sport mode and it will provide superior control for a car of its size. Cornering is tight and body bend (if you don’t have Curve Mode enabled) is kept to a minimum. The all-wheel drive 4Matic does a good job of keeping you on the road, but I did experience some cornering (the front wheels spin but the car continues in a straight line).
Inside, the beautiful 12.3-inch GLE display houses the new MBUX infotainment system. I’m happy to report that it feels more responsive to the pre-production A-Class voice commands I drove a few months ago. I’ve been really happy with the MBUX in the A-Class, if that’s what a few months of fine-tuning are doing to make it even better, other automakers might want to pay attention and see what Mercedes is doing.
The dashboard is equally stunning, with its own 12.3-inch screen displaying a myriad of different design modes and options. Mercedes also dropped a huge HUD (head-up display) in the car. Inside it you can add quite a lot, frankly. If you keep it simple, that’s great, if you overtake the boat it will be so crowded that you can’t drive on anything other than a long boring highway straight away.
This boring highway could also be for the updated Advanced Driver Assistance System. The stop-and-go feature is more efficient than others, thanks to vehicle-to-X communications for Traffic Jam Assist – which alerts the vehicle to traffic ahead and prepares it for traffic. Like the S-Class, it supports the ability to set the adaptive cruise control’s speed to what Mercedes deems safe around corners. Also, like the S-Class, the speed is usually a lot slower than I would take a corner and it seems very cautious to me.
Mercedes has also added an active track changer. When the driver assistance system is ready and working with adaptive cruise control and lane assistance, press the flash to move to the next lane (if the vehicle is considered safe). It did well during my tests, and like a quick road adaptation, it’s very careful. Contrary to my concern about speed, I am happy to make the car behave in a less aggressive manner when dealing with traffic.
Once you get away from soul-draining city traffic, the GLE becomes a happy cruiser if you choose the GLE 350 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter Inline-4 that makes 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. If you want to throw up some dust, the 362-hp GLE 450 Inline-6 (starting at $61,150) with 369 pound-feet of torque is probably your speed. Yes, the 450 is more fun, but if the majority of your driving is in town where the six-cylinder engine is restricted, the 350 is probably better.
The GLE 450 also gets an extra 21 horsepower from an EQ boost system. A small electric motor and battery add a little oomph and can shut off the engine in certain driving conditions.
At its core, the new GLE is a good SUV that’s made even better. Handling has been improved and it looks like Mercedes has done more than tweak a few things under the hood. While driving and riding in the passenger and rear seats, the experience was the luxury Mercedes ride you’d expect. Massaging seats, padded headrests, and an airy dash design I wasn’t sure at first glance – but it grew to me as soon as I got into the car.
That is the magic of this SUV. All of these suspension features and modified design look a little weird. And then she goes in and drives and she’s like, “Oh, that’s cool.” You can’t ask for much more than an updated SUV.
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