2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class

Consumer Reviews
0 Reviews
The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
February 2, 2021

Buying tip

The GLE350 is just fine for most users, though we wouldn’t fault anyone for spending for the strong inline-6 and hydropneumatic suspension in the GLE450.

features & specs

18 city / 23 hwy
18 city / 22 hwy
15 city / 19 hwy

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a no-compromise SUV with excellent performance, a spacious interior, and tons of style.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Mercedes GLE is a mid-size, five-seat luxury SUV that squares off against the BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Jaguar F-Pace, and Cadillac XT6. 

Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class a good car/SUV?

Review continues below

You’ll pay for the privilege, but the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is among the best ways to spend upward of $60,000 on an SUV. 

Overall, we score the 2021 GLE at 7.3 out of 10. It’s safe, spacious, luxurious, and even fun to drive—especially in hot AMG versions. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The GLE lineup is massive: GLE350, GLE450, GLE580, AMG GLE53, and AMG GLE63 S—but don’t forget about the GLE Coupe variants with their comparatively rakish rooflines and limited cargo capacity. The GLE Coupes come only in AMG variants. 

What's new for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class?

This year, the GLE lineup expands with new sporty versions from Mercedes’ in-house AMG tuning arm. The GLE53 makes use of a turbocharged inline-6 teamed with an electric starter-generator, while the GLE63 S pops in a twin-turbo V-8. The 53’s no slouch at 429 horsepower, while the big brother GLE63 S is a rocket thanks to its 603-hp rating and absolute mountain of torque. 

Otherwise, Mercedes tweaks the GLE’s options list this year. GLE350, GLE450, and GLE580 SUV versions return with turbo-4, turbo-6, and turbo V-8 power, meaning there’s a luxurious Mercedes SUV for just about any budget. GLE Coupes cost more for less, and frankly we’re not sure we understand the appeal in their altered rooflines and lower cargo capacity. 

Most buyers will stick with the 255-hp turbo-4 in the GLE350, which is just fine for typical driving and can be paired with either rear- or all-wheel drive. The GLE450 is all you’ll likely need if towing a boat or camper is a necessity. Anything else is pure excess, but we can understand the AMG allure. 

All share the same swoopy looks inside and out, and all leave the same Alabama assembly plant. First and second rows are supremely comfortable, while the optional third-row seats are tolerable for kids in a pinch. 

Mercedes bakes in a slew of collision-avoidance features, though adaptive cruise control is a costly extra on most versions that ought to be standard by now. This year, wireless smartphone charging and ambient lighting are newly standard. 

How much does the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class cost?

The GLE lineup starts around $55,000, while the GLE S runs more than double that. 

Where is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class made?

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama.


2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class


Muscular without going overboard, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE is an attractive two-box SUV.

Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class a good-looking car?

Very much so, enough that we rate this SUV at 8 out of 10 points for its looks—a figure normally reserved for sports cars. The 2021 GLE marries the swoopy style of Mercedes’ sedans with a more upright SUV body, and it doesn’t skimp on the details. Expressive grille designs that vary by trim level as well as a rakish C-pillar shared with the original M-Class SUV that vaulted Mercedes into the market nearly 25 years ago help the GLE stand out. 

Coupe versions are nearly identical in the front, but have more sloping front and rear rooflines that trim down passenger and cargo space. They’re attractive and popular, but we’re still befuddled by the idea of an SUV with less space.

Inside, the GLE’s interior looks as though it was lifted from the company’s luxurious E-Class sedan. Twin displays housed under a single glass pane make up the instrument panel. Shop carefully as Mercedes offers a host of interior hues and trim combinations; don’t settle, especially at these prices.

Review continues below

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class


Mild to wild, with lots in between, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is a delight to drive.

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class 4WD?

Unless you live in the sun belt, every Mercedes GLE you’ll find at your local dealer will come with the brand’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The base GLE350 can be had with rear-wheel drive, but don’t expect to find one outside of California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, or Arizona. 

How fast is the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class?

In base GLE350 form, the SUV keeps up well with traffic and has plenty in reserve for passing thanks to its willing 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4. It’s able to hit 60 mph in 7.0 seconds, according to Mercedes, a tenth slower with all-wheel drive.

Overall, the lineup scores a 7 out of 10 on account of its good performance and ride. AMG versions would score higher. 

Load up the GLE with passengers and you’ll wish for the 450’s 362-hp 3.0-liter inline-6, which is teamed with a 48-volt electrical system that offers a 184 lb-ft of torque boost allowing for engine-off highway cruising. It’s able to accelerate to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, and is capable of towing up to 7,700 pounds, too.

Better yet is the GLE580 that uses a 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 483 hp to reach 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. 

New this year are two AMG versions, the GLE53 and GLE63 S. The GLE53 uses an AMG-ified version of the inline-6 rated at 429 hp, which should provide for thrilling performance; Benz promises a 0-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds. The GLE63 S uses a hand-assembled twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that squirts out 603 hp and 627 lb-ft of torque, and its 48-volt system can add up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft in certain situations. It can deliver a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds.

All GLEs use a 9-speed automatic transmission that pairs well with the family of engines. The former full-hybrid and diesel versions are long gone.

Optional on less-costly GLEs and standard—in various states of tune—on higher-end ones is an air suspension that proves a plush, but controlled ride. The standard coil springs are just fine in base versions, but we do recommend at least trying out the air suspension, which can be augmented with the automaker’s hydropneumatic active body control system. That setup works in concert with various sensors to scan the road ahead and adjust the suspension in anticipation of bumps. Yes, the setup works amazingly well. 

The twin-turbo V-8 in the GLE63 S is almost reticent to unleash its power in Normal mode during everyday driving. It requires a deep stab of the throttle to kick in the turbos and unleash its wave of power. The Sport modes make the power easier to access and help the SUV leap off the line. The suspension is quite firm as well, perhaps too firm for regular suburban driving.

Review continues below

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class

Comfort & Quality

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class cocoons its occupants in luxury.

The 2021 Mercedes GLE is outfitted like a luxury SUV in every possible way, including its price tag. We score this SUV at 9 out of 10 points for front-seat and second-row comfort, decadent materials, and great cargo hauling. 

By the numbers, the 2021 GLE measures 117.9 inches between its wheels, and 194.0 inches overall.

Front-seat riders get thrones that are all-day supportive. For an extra cost, heated, cooled, and massaging seats lavish occupants. Row two isn’t quite as luxurious, but it’s good for the SUV’s size, and access is easy. The optional third row is suitable for kiddos but not adults.

The GLE63 S Coupe's thick seat bolsters and faster roofline require conspire to make occupants strain their necks when getting in—a price to pay for style.

Cargo space is impressive at 74.9 cubic feet with the second row folded flat, and 33.3 cubic feet with the seat raised in its rearmost position. (On the Coupe versions, it's 63.2 cubic feet with the rear seats down, 27.5 cubic feet with them up.) Roof rails up top offer even more utility when needed. 

We’ve only driven well-equipped GLEs with lots of leather and wood, but base models we’ve seen are equally as nice inside.

Review continues below

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class


The 2021 Mercedes GLE does a good job anticipating and avoiding crashes.

How safe is the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class?

For now, we rate the 2021 GLE at 8 out of 10 points. That score could go higher if the NHTSA crash-tests one.

Every GLE rolls out of the factory with automatic emergency braking that can see and brake for cars and pedestrians, plus blind-spot monitors. An advanced adaptive cruise control is paired with active lane control and a system that will automatically look for an opening in traffic and switch lanes when the turn signal is tapped. The tech is pricey, but worthwhile.

Outward vision is good, but not great. The relatively high belt line and beefy roof pillars make the optional surround-view camera system a feature to consider. Coupes are even worse. 

The IIHS rates the GLE a Top Safety Pick+.

Review continues below

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class


Those few features the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE lacks can be found on its lengthy options list.

Mercedes does not skimp on features when it comes to the 2021 GLE. We rate the range at 8 out of 10 on account of the standard fare, big touchscreen, and huge list of optional extras.  

Which Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class should I buy?

Most shoppers will be well-served by the GLE350, which at around $55,000 (plus a couple grand for all-wheel drive) is hardly lacking in features. It gets standard synthetic leather seats, power front seats, twin 12.3-inch screens (the right one governs infotainment), navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, keyless start, 19-inch wheels, and LED headlights. It’s our pick, with available all-wheel drive.

If you plan to tow, regularly haul around a lot of passengers, or live where it’s hilly or mountainous, consider upgrading to the GLE450.

Options on both those versions include leather upholstery, wood trim, four-zone automatic climate control, Burmester audio, a third-row seat, 22-inch wheels, and an AMG body kit.

The GLE580 is a trifle extravagant. It gains almost all those features as standard, and takes a more luxurious bent than the similarly-priced (by the time a few options are added) GLE53. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class?

Mercedes asks around $117,000 for a GLE63 S, and even then the automaker dangles upward of $20,000 in optional extras.

Review continues below

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class

Fuel Economy

Look for around 22 mpg in regular use from most versions of the 2021 GLE.

Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class good on gas?

By mid-size luxury SUV standards, the 2021 Mercedes GLE is just reasonably frugal. 

The GLE350 checks in at 21 mpg city, 26 highway, 23 combined with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive versions use a little more gas. 

More powerful versions aren’t that much thirstier thanks to their 48-volt mild hybrid tech. The GLE53 AMG is pegged at 18/22/19 mpg. That holds true until you hit the mega GLE63 S, which guzzles at a rate of 15/19/16 mpg. 

All GLEs use premium unleaded fuel. 

Review continues below
Continue Reading

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
MSRP based on GLE 350 SUV
Change Style
See Your Price For 2022
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
Compare the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE Class against the competition
  • 2021 Audi Q7

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 BMW X5

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 Lexus RX

    Compare Cars
  • 2021 Volvo XC90

    Compare Cars
Compare All Cars
Looking for a different year of the Mercedes-Benz GLE Class?
Read reviews & get prices
Related Used Listings
Browse used listings in your area
See More Used
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.