Mercedes-Benz is all-in on two things: SUVs and electrification. The company is taking its massive line-up of SUVs, sedans, coupes, and convertibles and systematically adding electrification across the board — in advance of a planned all-electric fleet in time to meet world regulatory requirements. The latest is the critical U.S.-market midsize SUV, the GLE.
The full name is a mouthful — the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic. We’ll just call it the GLE. It’s a midsize two-row luxury SUV with seating for five adults. In the 450e trim, the GLE is equipped with a plug-in hybrid system that carries enough battery power to drive up to 48 miles on electricity alone before using a drop of gasoline. That makes the GLE one of the longest-range PHEV models on the market.
In classic Mercedes style, the GLE is a handsome vehicle. It’s dignified, understated, and looks like a luxury SUV. Beyond that, the GLE adheres to the basic SUV two-box look and is unremarkable. If you don’t get a close look, it could be any SUV offered by any manufacturer. The big three-pointed star on the nose is your primary visual cue that this is a Benz.
Once you slide into the driver’s seat, the real purpose of the GLE become apparent. This is a vehicle designed for commuting in comfort, or for taking the whole family. The seats are supremely comfortable, heated and ventilated, and the touch surfaces and appointments are high-quality.
Little touches make the difference, like the handles on either side of the center console. It looks like they’re designed with the idea that you’ll be going off-road like a G-Wagen, but that’s really not happening with a GLE. The handles do provide someplace for the front-seat passenger to put their hand. As an example, I took my 82-year-old mother out to lunch in the GLE, and she liked the handle.
The 450e PHEV comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, and the plug-in hybrid electric motor. With 48 miles of range and quick recharges, I barely used any gasoline in the week I drove this SUV. Performance is excellent for the size of the GLE with 381 total system horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.
This SUV will hit 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and tow up to 7,700 pounds. The GLE comes with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. By the numbers, the 450e returns 58 MPGe, but the important number is 24 mpg on the highway once you start running on the gas engine.
Safety and Technology
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2023 GLE-Class as a “Top Safety Pick+,” its best designation. As a 2024 model out early, the institute has not yet rated this year’s model, but it’s the same SUV, so a similar rating can be expected.
As you would expect from Mercedes-Benz, there’s a full suite of safety and advanced driver assistance tech in the GLE, and this test vehicle came with the optional driver assistance package, including adaptive cruise control, steering assistance, lane change and emergency stop functions, evasive steering assistance, active blind spot assistance, and even a function where the vehicle prepares itself if someone’s about to hit you from behind. The GLE will modulate its speed based on the map of the road ahead, to make sure you don’t hit a corner too fast, and it will automatically obey all speed limits, unless you choose not to.
On the dash, you get a single pane of glass that stretches from the driver’s side to the center of the vehicle. This houses a 12.3-inch widescreen driver information center and a 12.3-inch infotainment center. The advanced Mercedes-Benz User eXperience (MBUX) provides some of the best voice control on the market today, plus enhanced reality navigation and more. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and of course there’s a mobile device charging pad.
The GLE drives very well on the electric motor. There’s plenty of power, and the SUV rides with perfect Mercedes aplomb. This is a vehicle that you can enjoy on the freeway or on a winding secondary road. It’s no sports car, but it’s quiet, comfortable, and offers excellent year-round traction with its all-wheel drive system. As mentioned, the GLE is designed for commuting and family use, and it excels at doing that while keeping you and your passengers in comfort.
The 2024 GLE 450e is its own trim level, and it comes only with 4Matic all-wheel drive. The base price is $69,500, but it’s easy to add from Mercedes’ long list of options and packages. We definitely recommend the driver assistance package at $1,950, as this includes all the latest advanced driver assistance at an almost absurdly low price. The Burmester sound system at $1,600 as part of the Executive trim pack is also worth getting, as it includes ventilated seats and the augmented reality navigation.
Other options like the power-adjustable second row seat, panoramic sunroof, and trailer hitch can be included based on personal preference. In all, the test vehicle came to $81,080 including a $1,150 destination charge. We could probably bring in a perfect 450e for our tastes about $5,000 cheaper, but at that price, it’s a small difference. The bottom line is easy: if you’re looking for a midsize luxury SUV, the GLE 450e is a compelling choice.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic Specifications
|Dimensions: L: 194.3 inches/W: 76.7 inches/H: 70.7 inches/Wheelbase: 117.9 inches
|2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with electric motor; 9-speed automatic transmission, AWD
|24 mpg combined/58 MPGe/48 miles range
|381 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $69,500; As tested: $81,080 including $1,150 destination charge
If you are looking for an efficient vehicle with minimal emissions but are not sold on electric vehicles because public charging networks leave a lot to be desired in your neighborhood or along you regular driving routes, the Santa Fe PHEV ought to make your consideration list.
Its standard packaging and long list of driver assistance, connectivity and convenience features add to the vehicle’s overall appeal — but the electrified powertrain does drive up the price. Prices for a standard Santa Fe with only an internal combustion engine start at around $29,000. The nicely contented Hyundai Santa Fe I drove came in just under $50,000, moving it out of the reach of many thrift-minded families.
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic - Frequently Asked Questions
What are the competitors to the GLE 450e?
Competitors include the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4Xe, Ford Explorer Hybrid, BMW X5 hybrid and Audi Q5 hybrid.
Is the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e reliable?
According to U.S. News & World Report, the GLE has a predicted reliability score of 80 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average.
Can I charge the GLE 450e at a public charging station?
Yes, you can charge the GLE at any Level 2 public charging station.