For a European luxury automaker, having a great mid-size SUV offering is critical. The new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE is supremely comfortable, offers exciting performance, and it looks great. That's expected with a Benz, but what's unexpected is the huge leap forward in technology inside this vehicle.
First, the GLE offers a variety of driver assistance features, including lane change, emergency braking, evasive steering, active blind spot, and left-turn assistance. The Mercedes Distronic adaptive cruise control system will automatically obey posted speed limit signs, and help steer the GLE around basic curves.
It gets more advanced from there, including a configurable head-up display on the windshield and two 12.3-inch short-wide screens on the dash. One screen replaces the traditional gauges with a configurable information display that offers the same information as the head-up display. The center dash screen displays navigation, infotainment, and seat features. This is called the Mercedes-Benz User eXperience or MBUX. There are about 40 new functions in the MBUX system, including gesture control for infotainment. Just wave your hands in front of the screen to make changes.
When the navigation system is active, as you approach a navigation instruction, the dash display shows a camera image of the road ahead, with floating tags that identify street names, destination addresses, and floating arrows showing you which way to turn on the desired road. Voice control is also enabled. There's a "Hey Mercedes" function that can perform a web search, find some music, or chat with you in English, German, and Mandarin Chinese. It's just like Siri or Alexa.
There are three high-tech suspension options to choose from. There's a nice standard suspension, or buyers can upgrade to the Airmatic suspension with adjustable ride height. But the really innovative option is E-Active body control, which augments the Airmatic to prepare the system for what's coming up. The GLE has a radar/camera system on the front end that scans the road surface in front of the vehicle to "see" bumps. The GLE then prepares the suspension to handle whatever's just ahead before the tires hit the bump. Further, the GLE tracks your steering inputs, and actually leans into corners and curves.
Mercedes will offer this SUV as the GLE 350 with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel-drive, or as the GLE 350 4MATIC with full-time all-wheel-drive. You can also order the GLE 450 4MATIC with a powerful turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with a 48-Volt electric motor for a mild hybrid power boost, and all-wheel-drive.
Mercedes has not announced pricing because the first models won't arrive until later this Spring. The AWD models will go on sale first, and then the rear-wheel-drive GLE 350 will arrive at dealers later in the year.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE
Base price: TBD
Price as tested: TBD
Type: mid-size crossover SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder (255 hp, 272 lbs-ft) or 3.0-liter six-cylinder (362 hp, 368 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: TBD
Overall length: 193.8 inches
Curb weight: TBD
Final assembly: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
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