Mercedes GLE SUV Review & Prices
The Mercedes GLE is big, comfortable and spacious, but you do have to sacrifice some practicality in the plug-in hybrid version
Find out more about the Mercedes GLE SUV
It’s a big, imposing seven-seater that’s really spacious inside and has a great selection of engines, but there are loads of posh SUVs that are also worth considering, such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 – and all of them cost less.
Despite its muscular appearance, the Mercedes GLE is offered with a frugal plug-in hybrid engine, so it’s a bit like Arnold Schwarzenegger on a vegan diet.
And much like the famous Austrian, the GLE doesn’t exactly blend into everyday life. An update in 2023 gave it a slightly different look, with new lights and a new grille, as well as alloy wheels up to 22 inches in size, but it’s just as handsome and eye-catching as ever, and you won’t lose it in a supermarket car park.
The inside more than lives up to the exterior, too. There’s loads of leather and wood – though it’s all fake for eco-friendly reasons, you’d never know so it’s still suitably classy. That said, a BMW X5 just feels a touch more upmarket.
To help make sure all this wood and leather doesn’t make the Mercedes GLE feel like a stuffy old country club, it also comes with one of the best infotainment systems in the business, courtesy of two sweeping displays atop the dashboard. It’s all very easy to use and responds to your touch quicker than most alternatives.
It’s not form over function, though, because there’s loads of space in the front and back with plenty of cubby holes, including nifty heated and cooled cupholders. However, the boot is 630 litres, which is smaller than all alternatives bar the Lexus RX. It should be big enough for most situations, though, and when the third row of seats are folded down you get a flat load area.
The Mercedes GLE is a big, comfortable, posh SUV, with excellent on-board technology, too
There are some compromises here for the plug-in hybrid, though – the boot capacity drops, you don’t get reclining rear seats and there’s no seven-seat option. But these are common issues among hybrid alternatives, to be fair.
Where the plug-in version makes a case for itself is running costs. It has an official electric range of over 60 miles, but even the more realistic 40 miles you see in the real world means that if you can keep the batteries charged, most people could commute without ever needing the petrol engine.
If you can’t keep it charged – or won’t benefit from the low company car cost – there’s a non-hybrid petrol and two diesels, which might suit you better. There are also high-performance AMG 53 and AMG 63 S versions if running costs are less of a concern…
The AMG models are the most fun in corners, thanks to having more power and a sportier suspension, but regardless, you’ll want a BMW X5 or Porsche Cayenne if twisty road enjoyment is top of the agenda.
Where the Mercedes GLE makes more sense is cruising quietly and comfortably around town and on the motorway. The steering is light and it’s really manoeuvrable for such a big car, while running on electric power in the hybrid makes it particularly quiet, too.
Although it doesn’t particularly excel in any area, the Mercedes GLE is still a compelling option. It looks great and has a lovely interior, with enough practicality for most, even if alternatives offer more capacity.
Interested? Find out how much you can save by browsing the latest Mercedes deals on carwow. You can also get a great deal on a used GLE, and check out other used Mercedes models. And when it’s time to sell your current car, carwow can help with that, too.
The Mercedes GLE SUV has a RRP range of £77,985 to £93,265. Prices start at £77,985 if paying cash. The price of a used Mercedes GLE SUV on carwow starts at £35,000.
Our most popular versions of the Mercedes GLE SUV are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|GLE 300d 4Matic AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic [7 Seat]||£77,985||Compare offers|
|GLE 400e 4Matic AMG Line Premium + 5dr 9G-Tronic||£92,755||Compare offers|
|GLE 400e 4Matic AMG Line Premium 5dr 9G-Tronic||£87,505||Compare offers|
The Mercedes GLE is not a cheap car. Perhaps an obvious statement for a posh SUV, but even when you compare it to similar alternatives, it falls on the expensive side of things.
Prices start at just under £80,000 for the basic diesel, nearly £5,000 more for the petrol and another £5,000 again for the plug-in hybrid. Go for one of the top-spec Premium Plus models with a couple of options and you’re looking at a £95,000 car.
The Porsche Cayenne is the only alternative that starts at more than £70,000, the rest start below this figure, including the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90, meaning they cost at least £10,000 less than the GLE. The Lexus RX is less expensive still, but it’s not as practical.
The Mercedes GLE is comfortable and easy to drive around town, but the BMW X5 is more fun in corners
For such a huge car, the GLE isn’t too intimidating to drive around town. The turning circle is reasonably tight by large 4x4 standards, and every model has a nine-speed automatic gearbox for wafting along in traffic without troubling your left leg.
Better all-round visibility would help with manoeuvres and parking, but fortunately the 360-degree cameras are brilliant, so you can rely on them to get you out of a tight spot. Literally.
The standard-fit air suspension means that the Mercedes GLE is really comfortable, but the plug-in hybrid model is a bit heavier than the regular cars, which makes sharp bumps more noticeable. It’s no deal-breaker, though, and the light steering and smooth brakes only add to the easy town driving experience.
With the batteries regularly topped up, the hybrid is your best bet for driving around town. Keep it smooth and the petrol engine is rarely called upon as you waft silently around.
On the motorway
The hybrid engine is actually really good at resisting the urge to call on combustion, and you can even drive the Mercedes GLE on electric power at motorway speeds. You will quickly eat into the battery’s 60-mile official range by doing this, so generally you’re better off leaving the system to its own devices to choose whether petrol or electric is best for the situation.
All of the engines have enough power to get you up to speed with little fuss, and overtaking is easy, but the suspension does have a tendency to fidget a bit at higher speeds, and it’s not as quiet as the BMW X5 or Audi Q7 on the motorway.
The GLE is a comfortable companion for long drives though, and has excellent adaptive cruise control that keeps pace with traffic without being too intrusive.
On a twisty road
The Mercedes GLE has a clear focus on comfort, and as such it’s not the most agile beast in the bends. It’s particularly noticeable in the heavier hybrid, where you can feel the added weight and notice the body leaning. Take manual control of changing gears and it can be slow to respond, too. Even the regular GLE isn’t the sportiest – if you want an upmarket SUV that’s fun on a twisty road, consider the Porsche Cayenne.
That, or look at the AMG versions of the GLE. The AMG 63 S in particular might be incredibly expensive, starting at more than £140,000, but it has a whopping 612hp and suspension upgrades that make it a hoot on the right road.
Cabin space is cavernous whether you sit in the front or back, but the boot’s a bit smaller than you’ll find elsewhere
There’s loads of space for those in the front, and the driver gets lots of adjustment in the steering wheel and seat so even taller drivers should be able to get comfortable. It’s all electrically operated, but it takes an age for the electric motor to move the wheel in and out and up and down. You’d be done in less than half the time with manual adjustment, but that wouldn’t seem right in a luxury car, would it?
Aside from the fairly pokey glovebox – an air freshener takes up a lot of space – there’s loads of storage in the front of the cabin. The door bins are massive, although it’s a shame they aren’t lined to stop things rattling around, and you get lots of room for odds and ends under the driver’s armrest.
There are two big cupholders – heated and cooled on all models, by the way – between the front seats with room for a flask or a really big takeaway cup. If you have a narrower bottle or can, the holders will grip it at the push of a button to stop it from toppling over.
Space in the back seats
The GLE is a hugely spacious limo on stilts for those in the second-row of seats, but it’s more like a three-door city car for those in the third-row.
If you are in the second row there’s plenty of head and legroom, even in cars with a sunroof, which does a great job of making the back feel really light and airy. Storage is pretty good, with large door bins and nets on the seat-backs in front, while you also get a couple of USB-C slots and switches to control the temperature in the rear.
The transmission tunnel gets in the way a bit if there are three of you, but two tall adults will be more than happy on a long journey.
You’ll wipe the smile off their faces if they ride in the third row on the way home, though. Leg and headroom are meagre, but it’s the lack of room for your feet that really makes seats six and seven a no-go area for grown-ups. Even kids won’t relish being in the very back for long periods.
It’s better to think of the GLE as a five-seater with a couple of extra seats for emergencies. Both the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery are better full-time seven-seaters.
It’s also worth noting that the plug-in hybrid is only available as a five-seater, while all other engines come with seven seats as standard.
If you need to fit a bulky child seat, you’ll be glad of the wide-opening doors. However, it’s annoying that you need to remove a cover to access the ISOFIX mounting points, because they can be easy to lose. There’s just about room for an adult to squeeze in the middle if you have two child seats fitted.
The Mercedes GLE has a reasonably sized boot, though it’s smaller than most of its alternatives offer. In five-seat mode, you get 630 litres in petrol and diesel models and 490 litres in the plug-in hybrid, with the Lexus RX’s 461-litre boot the only smaller option.
A BMW X5 and Volvo XC90 are only a bit more spacious, at 650 litres and 680 litres respectively. The biggest boot award goes to the Porsche Cayenne, which has a whopping 772 litres, just ahead of the 740 litres found in the Audi Q7.
Plug-in hybrids generally have smaller boots because the system’s batteries are typically placed beneath the boot floor, so eat into space. The Volvo XC90 has the biggest hybrid boot here at 680 litres, followed by the Q7’s 650 litres and 627 litres in the Cayenne – all considerably bigger than the GLE hybrid’s boot.
Lower the middle row and the space is enormous, with a flat floor. You could almost move house. Certainly taking the eldest and all their possessions to uni at the start of term won’t be a problem, because the capacity of around 2,000 litres is bigger than anything else here.
The Mercedes GLE interior is great to look at and use, but some surprisingly iffy plastics can be found
If you are spending this kind of money, you’ll struggle to buy a bad car. Given that every SUV on your shortlist more than likely does the job and does it well, you can afford to let the car’s looks and design sway your decision.
Climb inside the GLE, and you may be tempted to sign the order form there and then.
What really turns the Merc’s showroom appeal up to 11 is the fabulous twin-screen infotainment system. Although there are two screens, they look like one continuous display, dominating the dash and making whatever else you drive suddenly seem 10 years out of date.
The screen in front of you takes the place of traditional dials but with loads of extra info. There are four different looks to choose from, and you can configure the display to show the trip computer, telephone info, sat nav, and a whole lot more.
You change the screen using a controller on the right-hand side of the steering wheel. Annoyingly, the 2023 update brought in Mercedes’ touch-sensitive wheel-mounted buttons. They’re really tricky to use when you want to and are easy to accidentally swipe when you don’t.
The left-hand screen takes care of most infotainment functions. Like its twin, the display is crisp, clear, and colourful. This second screen is touch-sensitive, and it’s quick to respond to any inputs.
Mercedes also fits a physical line of climate control switches beneath the display, which is great for quickly changing the temperature on the move.
You also get a Burmester sound system included as standard on all models. This is a fantastic addition that’s often only included on top-spec Mercedes trims – the speakers look great and sound better.
Quality is mostly really high, but there are some wobbly switches and hard and scratchy plastics in places – the button for the armrest storage is particularly cheap-feeling. You don’t necessarily notice straightaway because the overall standard is so good, but a BMW X5’s cabin is more consistently finished.
If you want to keep the carbon footprint of your motoring down, the Mercedes-AMG models are best avoided. The GLE 53 emits up to 241g/km of carbon dioxide, while the GLE 63 S emits 288g/km. Both models use mild-hybrid tech to take the strain off the engine and improve economy, but even so you’ll do well to beat low-20s mpg. Though with 435hp in the 53 and 612hp in the 63 S, that’s perhaps no surprise.
If you want to be as green as you can be in a big, luxury SUV, the ‘400e’ plug-in hybrid is your best bet. The 2.0-litre petrol engine combines with an electric motor for 381hp, while the battery range is up to 66 miles in official tests, though it’s more likely to be around 40 in the real world.
As with any hybrid, you’ll have to keep the batteries charged to get anywhere near the official figures of 282.5mpg. Our test car was showing about 30mpg once the battery was depleted, demonstrating how quickly the efficiency drops when the petrol engine has to go it alone.
The 400e has the lowest benefit-in-kind for company car drivers, though, so even if you can’t keep it consistently charged it could still work out cheaper in the long run.
If you’re buying privately and can’t charge the hybrid, there are two regular diesels and a petrol to consider. The basic 300d diesel has 289hp and is sprightly enough, but the 450d is more powerful at 387hp and is less strained by lugging around a big SUV, particularly with lots of people and stuff onboard.
The most powerful model in the non-AMG range is the GLE 450 petrol. It makes 401hp and can go from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, but its 28mpg fuel economy figure lags well behind the rest.
The plug-in hybrid is the cheapest on road tax, falling into one of the lowest bands. The AMG models sit at the other end of the scale, with the 63 S actually being in the most expensive band – though even the regular non-hybrids are not that far off the top.
Back in 2019 the safety experts at Euro NCAP put the Mercedes GLE through their series of tests and it emerged with the maximum five-star rating. Merc’s SUV scored 91% for adult occupant protection, 90% for child occupant protection, 78% for pedestrian safety and 78% for its safety assistance features.
Standard kit includes a system to warn the driver if they are getting tired, a blind spot warning, and an active lane keeping feature to keep the car in the centre of the lane if it starts to drift out without indicating. There’s also a dashcam that can record in the event of a crash, and can also send images to your phone if something happens while you’re away from the car.
Top-spec Premium Plus models get the Driving Assistance Package Plus, which adds adaptive cruise control, a system to warn if you’re opening the door into traffic, and an evasive steering assistant.
There have been no major red flags for Mercedes GLE reliability, though it’s worth noting that Mercedes doesn’t have a brilliant record for building mechanically bullet-proof cars, though its cabins generally stand the test of time.
Like other Mercedes cars, the GLE comes with a three-year new car warranty which should protect you against any unexpected bills for the first 36 months. While its unlimited mileage coverage makes it stand out from most other premium brands, all fall well behind the 10-year warranty offered by Lexus, provided the car is annually serviced at an approved dealer.