Last time I checked, Mercedes-Benz had seven SUVs in their American lineup. Need a small luxury SUV? The GLA-Class is not bad for the sub-$34,000 base price. Want an alternative to the BMW X6? The Mercedes GLE Coupe will fulfill your fantasies. But if you want a Mercedes that can shame the BMW X5, both on and off-road, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is your top choice.
“The GLE exhibits iconic Mercedes-Benz design while remaining true to its character as an off-roader,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG. “With its design idiom it perfectly embodies our design philosophy of sensual purity, thus representing modern luxury.”
We got our first taste of Mercedes-Benz’s EQ Boost mild-hybrid system in the 2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan. In that car, the 48-volt ISG or Integrated-Starter Generator provides short blips of power as the turbochargers spool up.
It’s not much different in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE. The electric generator works with the 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six motor to deliver more torque. The engine is good for 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. If you really need to know, the 2019 BMW X5 xDrive40i can only muster 335 horsepower and 330 lb-ft. of torque from a similar inline-six turbo motor with the same displacement.
The generator also feeds power to the A/C compressor and water pump to lessen the burden on the gasoline motor. I assume this will make the GLE more responsive and more eager to attack as you bury the throttle.
The base model GLE 350 and GLE 4MATIC make do with a smaller turbocharged 2.0-liter four-banger. It summons 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque. Each engine is bolted to an AMG-spec nine-speed automatic. The EQ Boost system is only available on the GLE 450 4MATIC with the 3.0-liter inline-six motor.
[bctt tweet=”It is all creepily high-tech inside the GLE. The features will make you think twice about bashing this SUV on a nearby dirt road or off-road trail!” username=”Automoblog”]
On & Off-Road Supremacy
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE definitely looks like a luxury SUV with a long wheelbase and short overhangs. It also comes with ultra-bright LED headlights, 19 to 22-inch wheels, and chrome surrounds on the windows. But with an upright radiator grille, chrome-plated front underguards, and a large hood with twin power domes, there is no mistaking the go-anywhere capabilities.
“The new GLE is not only more comfortable than ever before on the road, but also shows its superior off-road character off the beaten track,” explained Ola Källenius, responsible for corporate research at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Cars development. “This alone shows our determination to reinforce our claim to leadership in the SUV segment.”
All trim models come with the 4MATIC intelligent all-wheel drive system. The base model gets a mechanical transfer case that feeds the torque an even 50:50 between the front and rear wheels. Higher trim models receive an electronically-controlled multi-disc clutch which can transfer 100 percent of the available torque between the front and rear axles. The torque-on-demand transfer case can also enhance handling on paved roads.
New E-Active Body Control Suspension
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE comes optional with the E-Active Body Control Suspension. This new system is developed in-house by Mercedes. It works in harmony with the AIRMATIC suspension to enhance ride comfort, grip, and agility. According to Mercedes-Benz, it’s the only system available that allows the spring and damping forces to be individually controlled at each wheel.
The newly-developed suspension also offers a unique free-driving mode. It can raise or lower the suspension automatically to change the ground pressure on each tire. The theory is to help the SUV if it gets stuck in a mud pit or sand dune.
The new suspension system allows the SUV to lean into bends similar to a motorcycle. The result is sharper cornering and more confident handling even at higher speeds. The system can be equipped with a stereo camera that scans the road surfaces too. This allows the suspension to react in advance.
Of course, if all this tech wizardry scares you, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE can also be fitted with a conventional suspension.
Next-Generation Driver Assistance Systems
No new Mercedes is complete without an array of clever driver-assistance features. The Active Distant Assist system recognizes and responds to traffic jams or slow-moving traffic.
The Active Stop-and-Go Assist feature is also great for traffic jams, helping drivers maintain a safe distance from the vehicles ahead. It can haul the SUV to a complete stop and get it moving once again, up to one minute after coming to a stop. And it can do this without any inputs from the driver.
The new GLE comes with the latest generation of MBUX, or Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It has two large 12.3-inch screens arranged in-line for a widescreen viewing angle. The system even supports hand gestures courtesy of the MBUX Interior Assistant. It is all creepily high-tech inside the GLE. The features will make you think twice about bashing this SUV on a nearby dirt road or off-road trail!
The new Mercedes-Benz GLE is a huge step up from the previous model. With a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase, interior spaciousness improves. The extra room also allows enough space to fit an optional third-row seat. The front seats are electrically-adjustable and offer different seating kinetics for better comfort. The seats adapt to changes in posture by allowing minute movements in the backrest and seat cushion.
Pricing & Availability
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE lineup is available now. The GLE 350 starts at $56,200, while the GLE 450 begins at $61,150. An AMG variant – the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 – is due late next year.
Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.