Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV Hybrid Review and Prices
The plug-in hybrid GLE is a big, comfortable SUV with outstanding electric range. It’s not quite as practical as its regular petrol and diesel counterparts, though
What's not so good
Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV Hybrid
The Mercedes GLE plug-in hybrid SUV takes the whole idea of real-world electric range properly seriously.
You see, where most plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models only have space to house a fairly small power source, this big, posh, comfortable 4×4 has more batteries stashed in it than an Amazon warehouse.
So instead of being able to travel roughly 30 miles or so on a charge like most PHEVs, the GLE350de’s 23kWh (usable capacity) battery will let you travel nearly 60 miles on a full charge.
That’s an impressive figure, particularly when you realise that alternatives such as plug-in versions of the Volvo XC90 and Range Rover Sport will struggle to deliver half of that. Only BMW’s X5 PHEV, with its 54-mile range, really comes close to the big Mercedes.
So straight away, the electrified GLE (you can read our review of the standard, non plug-in car here) is something of a class leader. And that electric range isn’t just an empty, on-paper claim either – we saw just over 55 miles from a charge out in the real world.
With charge times as low as 3.5 hours from a home wallbox, you probably won’t need to wake the car’s four-cylinder diesel engine from its slumber all too often either. But even if you do, you’ll find it to not only be usefully punchy (all-up, the car puts out 320hp); but decently frugal too. It just doesn’t deliver the same smooth engine note as a six-cylinder diesel.
On a long motorway run the GLE will hover around the 40mpg mark, and you won’t really hear a peep from the engine as it churns away in the background either. But unlike a lot of other PHEVs, there isn’t a dedicated drive mode that lets you top the battery up using the combustion engine, which is a bit annoying on those longer runs.
It’s a shame that the plug-in GLE misses out on a seven-seat layout; but that electric range is seriously impressive.
Still, on its standard-fit air suspension you can waft along the motorway in comfort (though there can be a bit of jitteriness over low speed bumps around town); and wind and road noise aren’t too intrusive.
You also get an arsenal of useful driver aides to help take the strain out of those long-distance slogs up and down the motorway too. Adaptive cruise control that can automatically maintain a set distance between your car and the one in front comes as standard, as does active lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring.
Being a big car, parking in town takes a bit of additional concentration, but the view out from its perched driving position is pretty good. You also get front and rear parking sensors as standard, as well as a rear parking camera, to make life that bit easier. Our range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus car also benefited from a 360-degree parking camera.
Annoyingly, you can’t get this plug-in version of the GLE with seven seats, like you can with the standard car. It’s a strict five-seater only. And because that big old battery is housed beneath the boot floor, luggage capacity drops from 630 litres to 490 litres. Still, the interior still feels just as plush and high-tech as ever.
But otherwise, this is an impressively comfortable, easy-driving and sturdy handling plug-in SUV. With prices starting at £65,710 it’s pricey, but that outstanding electric range and a benefit-in-kind rating of just 7% are pretty hard to sniff at.
So if this Mercedes GLE hybrid sounds like it could be the car for you, then head on over to our deals page to see how much you can save through carwow.