The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a five-passenger SUV that’s offered in five different models differentiated largely by the engine selection: GLE 350, turbocharged GLE 400, GLE 550e plug-in hybrid, AMG GLE 63 and AMG GLE 63 S. Partway through the model year, the AMG GLE 43 replaced the GLE 400.
The optional Premium 1 package includes keyless ignition and entry, a navigation system, satellite radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, a rear 115-volt, household-style power outlet, a blind-spot monitoring system and a lane departure warning system. The Premium 2 package includes all of the Premium 1 items plus adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam headlights, heated and cooled cupholders and rear sunshades. The Premium 3 package further adds adaptive cruise control, a collision avoidance system, a lane departure warning system and an automated parking system.
The Exterior Sport package includes 20-inch wheels and an AMG body kit. There’s also the Night package, which has the Exterior Sport package contents plus gloss-black exterior trim pieces and wheels. Leather upholstery is optional for the GLE 350.
The GLE 400 includes all features from the Premium 1 and Exterior Sport packages, as well as a turbocharged engine, multicolor ambient interior lighting and leather upholstery. An Off-Road package is available for this model only, which includes a low-range gearing, a unique Dynamic Select calibration and a front underbody skid plate.
The GLE 550e plug-in hybrid includes all the Premium 1 features plus leather and unique cabin treatments.
The GLE 400’s replacement, the AMG GLE 43, features a more powerful engine, AMG-exclusive 20-inch wheels, an AMG-tuned adaptive air suspension, a sport exhaust, exterior styling upgrades, a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum shift paddles and pedals, simulated leather upholstery, and the contents of the Premium 1 package.
The Parking Assist package is available on all the above trims, and it adds a 360-degree camera system and the automated parking system.
The AMG GLE 63 includes the GLE 43’s features, plus the Premium 2 and Parking Assist packages, a turbocharged V8 engine, larger brakes, active stabilizer bars, front and rear parking sensors, special leather upholstery, and heated and ventilated seats.
The range-topping AMG GLE 63 S increases the horsepower of the turbocharged V8 and adds 21-inch wheels, a carbon-fiber engine cover, a sport steering wheel, suede headliner and unique upholstery.
Notable standalone options include a panoramic sunroof, a trailer hitch, adaptive air and off-road suspensions, tri-zone climate control, multi-contour front seats with massage, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system and a 13-speaker Harman Kardon or a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium audio system.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is offered with a total of four different powertrains. All-wheel drive (4Matic) is standard on all but the GLE350, where it’s an option that replaces rear-wheel drive. All engines come with fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start technology.
The GLE350 is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and has a seven-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy numbers are 20 mpg combined (18 city/23 highway) with rear-wheel drive and 19 combined (18 city/22 highway) with all-wheel drive. In Edmunds performance testing, the GLE350 with all-wheel drive went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, an average time for this segment.
The GLE400 gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that produces 329 hp and 354 lb-ft and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The EPA estimates it will earn 20 mpg combined (18 city/23 highway). A low-range transfer case and locking center differential are optional.
The GLE550e plug-in hybrid model couples a 114-hp electric motor to the turbo 3.0-liter V6 and seven-speed automatic-based transmission, boosting total output to 436 hp and 479 lb-ft. Zero to 60 mph is claimed to take 5.3 seconds. EPA fuel economy is estimated to be 43 mpg equivalent when starting with a fully charged battery and 21 mpg when operating in normal hybrid mode. Maximum driving range on electricity alone is said to be approximately 18 miles.
Under its hood, the AMG GLE63 takes a big step up to a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that cranks out 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. The AMG GLE63 S sports a version of the same engine that produces 577 hp and 561 lb-ft. Both engines use a specially tuned version of the seven-speed automatic, and fuel economy for both is EPA-rated at 15 mpg combined (13 city/17 highway). Mercedes says the AMG GLE63 makes the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.3 seconds and the GLE63 S does the same in 4.2 seconds.
Properly equipped, the GLE350 with rear-wheel drive can tow up to 6,600 pounds; the GLE350 4Matic and all other models can tow up to 7,200 pounds.