Mercedes-Benz has just revealed an all-new GLE SUV. There is more tech inside, more space inside, an optional third row and a 48-volt hybrid system.
The GLE starts with all-new sheet metal. Gone are the angles and sharp creases of the last generation, and in their place is a much smoother design. The styling calls to the same gently bulging but elegant look worn by the E-Class coupe and sedan. It also delivers what Mercedes calls the best aerodynamics in the segment, with an impressive 0.29 coefficient of drag.
Under that new body is an extra 80 mm of wheelbase. With 2,995 mm between the wheels, second-row legroom is up 69 mm, and luggage space grows to 825L behind the seats or 2,055 with them folded. There's enough room to add an optional third row with two folding seats.
The dashboard design is much more like the E-Class than the old GLE, though with new square air vents in place of the round versions in the sedan. And it boasts two massive 312 mm screens set side by side to offer up a digital dash and infotainment display. There are four display styles to scroll through, including two designed to give you less information instead of more.
The infotainment system uses the MBUX (that's MB-UX, not embucks) system that's been improved since debuting in the A-Class. It offers voice control as well as gesture recognition that uses a camera in the overhead console. It knows which side of the car is reaching for the screen to control things like the massage seat function. It offers around 40 voice controls including setting off-road driving modes and automatic seat adjustment based on driver size. The Hey Mercedes assistant also learns your habits and will perform actions like suggesting a number in your contacts if you often call it that day.
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Engines at launch will be an inline-six with EQ boost in the GLE 450 and a four-cylinder GLE 350, both with 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The six-cylinder is a 3.0L turbocharged engine that delivers 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The 48v EQ Boost electric motor can add an additional 184 lb-ft and 21 hp for a short period. The integrated starter/alternator that gives that power boost also allows for more use of stop-start to save fuel. The 2.0L four uses a turbo to deliver 255 hp and 273 lb-ft, though without the electric assist. Both use a nine-speed automatic.
The GLE 450 can be fitted with an E-Active Body Control 48v suspension. The air system can control both spring and damper rates at each individual wheel to improve ride while controlling body roll as well as the pitch and squat of acceleration and braking. It will even lean into a turn like a motorcycle. On rough roads, the suspension can actually capture energy to send back to the 48v electrical system.
It can even hop. A new free-driving mode detects if the car is bogged down in sand or similar conditions. The suspension will automatically raise and lower the suspension multiple times to try and give one of the wheels enough traction to free the vehicle. Like rocking in a snowbank, but done by the computer. You can also adjust the height at individual wheels using the touchscreen.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE is expected to arrive at Canadian dealers mid-next year.