2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class Preview

2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
September 13, 2018

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class sets a high bar for technology.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class looks back to the future. For the first time in 15 years, Mercedes’ mid-size crossover SUV has seating for up to seven passengers—and it can drive itself in certain traffic situations.

The 2020 GLE debuts Mercedes’ new traffic-assistance system that recognizes traffic jams and can keep the vehicle in its lane and away from other cars with limited driver intervention at lower speeds. This evolution of adaptive cruise control with stop and go uses myriad sensors and cameras to watch other vehicles, even when they’re being unpredictable.

The GLE can come to a complete stop for up to a minute before restarting itself to keep up with the flow of traffic. A full suite of active safety tech such as automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors are also included on every 2020 GLE.

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When it goes on sale in the spring of 2019, the 2020 Mercedes GLE will be available in two flavors: GLE350, with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 255 horsepower, and GLE450 with a turbocharged inline-6 paired to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system good for 362 horsepower.

A new all-wheel-drive system that can transfer up to 100 percent power to one axle will be optional on the GLE350 and standard on the GLE450. A 9-speed automatic puts power to either the rear or all four wheels.

The GLE450 uses the 48-volt mild-hybrid system that Mercedes debuted in its 2019 CLS, but with an additional twist beyond its 21-horsepower electric boost for high-speed passing. In the GLE, the system also powers a hydropneumatic suspension that reads the road ahead can adjust each corner of the vehicle proactively. Mercedes says that the hydropneumatic suspension can “rock” the vehicle to extract it from deep sand.

GLE350s come standard with a coil-sprung suspension and an air suspension is on the options list.

Both versions of the GLE share a clean, elegant look with a wide grille flanked by standard LED headlights up front. From the side, the crossover SUV’s C-pillar is raked, a throwback to the 1998 ML320 that vaulted Mercedes into the luxury off-roader market. Unpainted fender flares integrated into the GLE’s fenders are also something of a heritage item; the original ML offered unpainted flares as a popular option. The GLE will ride on 19-inch wheels as standard, with 21-inchers as an optional extra.

Inside, the new GLE couldn’t be more different than its predecessors, however. Two 12.3-inch displays under a single pane of glass sit in front of the driver and above the center stack. The screen behind the steering wheel serves as a digital instrument cluster, while the other is a touchscreen for infotainment. Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment software makes its mainstream debut in the GLE-Class. It’s already offered in the brand’s Sprinter vans and G-Class off-roader. A hand-gesture control system will be on the options list.

The 2019 Benz GLE hits the market in early 2019 first as the GLE350 and GLE450 with the automaker’s 4Matic all-wheel drive. The rear-wheel-drive GLE350 will follow in the summer of 2019.

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