2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Preview
By Jeff Youngs,
- New GLE-Class replaces M-Class
- Restyled exterior, revised interior
- Plug-in hybrid model debuts
- Two AMG performance variants
- Dynamic Select variable dynamic handling system
- Standard Crosswind Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus systems
- Enhanced driving-assistance technologies are optional
- Standard Mercedes Connect Me services, optional Remote Online services
- Optional larger 8-in. infotainment display screen
- Available intelligent LED lighting, Easy-Pack liftgate design, Magic Vision Control wipers, AMG Line styling package, Night package of blacked-out trim
- Fresh interior color and trim choices
To understand the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, you first need to understand what it is. This is last year's M-Class equipped with new styling, a revised interior, a couple of new powertrains, and other changes that constitute a mid-cycle refresh.
The new name--GLE Class--reflects the new nomenclature that Mercedes-Benz is rolling out across its entire model lineup. The SUVs will now all start with the letter "G." All SUVs except for the iconic G-Class will then add an "L" followed by a letter aligned with the corresponding car model in the company's lineup. Thus, the GLE-Class is positioned in similar fashion to the E-Class.
Additionally, the performance-oriented AMG versions are now known as Mercedes-AMG whereas previously the "AMG" portion of the name served as a suffix. For 2016, that means the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG is now the Mercedes-AMG GLE63.
Nipped and tucked both front and rear, the revised styling and new wheel selections help to distance the new GLE-Class from the former M-Class. Changes are most evident forward of the windshield, thanks to a new hood, new grille, new lighting, and a new bumper. Around back, new LED taillights flank subtle updates to the tailgate and bumper.
Interior changes are harder to spot. The driver faces a new steering wheel, a larger 8-in. infotainment display screen is available for 2016, and a new COMAND system controller debuts. The GLE-Class includes new Mercedes Connect Me smartphone connectivity and services, with optional Remote Online services available with a paid subscription. New interior colors and trim choices also debut for the 2016 GLE-Class.
Choose a new GLE-Class and you can outfit the SUV with a wide variety of options. New items for 2016 include LED headlights, Easy-Pack hands-free tailgate, intelligent LED headlights, and the automaker's Magic Vision Control heated adaptive windshield wipers.
Buyers can also make a regular-strength GLE-Class look like an extra-strength Mercedes-AMG version with a new AMG Line styling package. Fans of blacked-out trim will want the new Night styling package.
Under the Hood
The big news for 2016 is the addition of the GLE550e, a plug-in hybrid version of the GLE-Class. It employs a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, electric motor, rechargeable Lithium-ion battery, 7-speed automatic transmission, and 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD). Four driving modes include Hybrid, E-Mode, E-Save, and Charge, allowing the driver to determine when the GLE550e will use its 18.6-mi. electric driving range. Mercedes says the GLE550e can be recharged in 2 hours using an optional wallbox charger or public charging station. It takes longer using a standard household power outlet.
Expected to be the most popular version of the new GLE-Class, the GLE350 will have a 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine matched with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with 4Matic AWD available as an option.
The GLE400 includes 4Matic as standard equipment, and contains a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 engine generating 329 horsepower. The main benefit here is torque, thanks to an extra 81 lb.-ft. peaking from 1,600 rpm to 4,000 rpm.
The GLE300d is the turbo-diesel version of the SUV, featuring a turbocharged, 2.1-liter 4-cylinder engine making a modest 201 horsepower combined with an impressive 369 lb.-ft. of torque. The 4Matic AWD system is standard for this version of the GLE, which is about 1.5 seconds slower to 60 mph but delivers better fuel economy, according to Mercedes.
At the top of the GLE-Class range, the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 and GLE63 S are performance-oriented SUVs equipped with twin-turbocharged V-8 engines. The GLE63 makes 550 horsepower, while the GLE63 S generates 577 horsepower. Mercedes-AMG also reworks the transmission, steering, brakes, suspension, styling, and interiors of these high-performance GLE SUVs.
A Dynamic Select variable dynamic handling system includes Comfort, Sport, Slippery, and Individual settings. All versions equipped with 4Matic also have an Off-Road setting, and when buyers select the optional Off-Road Engineering package, an Off-Road+ setting is included. Furthermore, a Sport+ setting is added to the Mercedes-AMG variants. No matter which setting is used, this technology is designed to calibrate powertrain response, suspension settings, and handling parameters according to the chosen selection.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus will be standard equipment for every 2016 GLE-Class, as will Crosswind Assist technology, the latter system useful when owners are taking advantage of the SUV's 7,700-lb. maximum towing capacity.
Mercedes will offer a new Driver Assistance Plus option package including the contents of the Driver Assistance package, adding Steering Assist, Stop & Go Pilot, Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Protection, and Cross Traffic Assist systems.
Mercedes expects the new GLE-Class to earn a "Top Safety Pick" designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), just as the structurally identical M-Class did in 2015.
In conjunction with advance announcements about the new GLE-Class, Mercedes makes no mention of its current infotainment services package, called mBrace, but does discuss standard Mercedes Connect Me service and an optional Remote Online service with the ability to transform the GLE-Class into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Few details have been shared with regard to what is included with each, but Mercedes does confirm that Connect Me includes features related to safety, security, and real-time traffic reporting.
The GLE-Class will offer a choice between two premium audio systems, as well as a rear-seat entertainment system. Park-assist technologies such as a 360-degree camera and Active Parking Assist with Parktronic sensors will continue.
- 2015 Mercedes-Benz M-Class Overview
- Mercedes-Benz Car & SUV Quality, Dependability & Performance Ratings
- 2015 Mercedes-Benz Buyer's Guide