SUV pioneer will have you thinking there’s nothing better.
Some say that the Mercedes-AMG 63s are a bit much. Just a bit. For them, Mercedes builds mini-me AMGs. This 53 4Matic takes that position In the GLE range. Of which you have the choice of two. This wagon, or the sleek turtle on stilts.
It’s mostly right up to date. Like it’s splendid new 429 HP 384 lb.-ft 3-liter straight six turbo gas hybrid engine. With both an exhaust gas turbo and an electric charger. Add a 48-volt EQ electric motor generator residing in its 9-speed gearbox. For a 20 HP 200 lb.-ft bonus EQ Boost. Out tests prove it a bit of a rocket, too. 5.2 seconds to 60 is no slouch.
A Sport Utility Vehicle Pioneer
Mercedes-Benz says its GLE is the pioneer of the street-oriented Sport Utility Vehicle. Originally developed to replace the G Wagon a quarter century back, the light came on when they figured that the new concept would appeal to a somewhat different owner profile to the G. So, the ML was born its own car. That masterstroke proved an overnight success that soon had every rival and his dog sniffing out a share of the exploding new soft SUV segment.
The iconic G-wagon of course lives on. And ML morphed into GLE. To fit into Merc’s new SUV naming convention and link them to its sedans. So, this fourth generation E-Class sized SUV called GLE has become one of a broad base of Mercedes SUVs. From GLA, GLB and GLC, through this one to GLS. Don’t forget each now also has an EQ electric arm to its family tree. And offshoots like coupé versions and even Maybach.
Old School Tech an AMG GLE 53 Advantage
Our AMG GLE 53 4Matic cuts through the wind in elegant aerodynamic style. Bristling with Active Body Control suspension, 48-volt electrics and best Mercedes safety, its longer, wider, lower, and rides on a longer wheelbase. Its slick cabin is more spacious, comfier too. The huge boot grows cavernous with the 40:20:40 split second seat row stowed. Although power seat folding was conspicuous by its absence.
A commanding driving position and peerless infotainment makes for a wafting, elegant motoring experience. Starship Enterprise ‘Hey Mercedes’ MBUX artificial intelligence infotainment spreads out across the broad dash. Its steering controls may be last season. But that’s actually an advantage. Two tiny touch pads, one on each stalk, run everything. The infotainment to the left, car bits on the right.
GLE 53 Proves Mercedes Gains
Quite brilliant, actually. And far better than the latest MBUX steering wheel system. Sure, this wheel is ‘ugly’ by comparison to that slick new thing. But it works simply, effortlessly, and easy. Unlike that new one, that defies its good looks with logic beyond average human consumption. So this GLE not only benefits great new tech under the bonnet. It has fantastic old school infotainment tech too!
Getting down to brass tacks, Mercedes has gained ground over the years. GLE 53 proves that conclusively. It has a regal feel on the road, with cool cutting edge tech. Mercedes has also stolen a dynamic march. The X5 was mighty fifteen years ago. It made a mockery of its flabby SUV rivals to make the self-acclaimed Sport Activity Vehicle the king of the hill. Roll on a couple of generations and it’s all change…
Versatile On & Off the Beaten Track
The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 is versatile on and off the beaten track, in E-Class luxury. The cabin is silent, and it rides supremely. The original SUV also delivers great road agility and superior 4×4 ability. GLE’s 4Matic Plus all-wheel drive splits torque front to rear depending on road conditions and driver input. That’s backed by electronic rear differential and eight driving modes tailored for whatever road you encounter.
There’s no noticeable over or understeer, or any real body roll when driving quickly over a good, tight, and sweeping tar road. Courtesy of Active Engine Mounts, Active Roll Stabilization, and a Ride Height controller to keep it on an even tack, no matter what the load. So, GLE also feels surprisingly light. It seems smaller than it is, stops on the proverbial tickey, and earns the driver’s trust way beyond what you’d ever expect from a car this size.
GLE 53 is Best of its Range. At the Very Least
On the other side of the spectrum, the big is reassuring and fun to drive off-road. Scaling daunting inclines is a synch. No settings, no fuss. Just feed it a gentle throttle and steer. GLE does the rest for you. Child’s play. And it even has a monster 3.5-tonne braked towing capacity.
Superbly built, supremely comfortable and safe as houses, this Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 may be a step down under its full cream 63 sibling. But it’s still great to look at and wonderful to drive, whatever the conditions.
It’s the kind of car that makes you wonder if there’s actually a better one out there. Whether this is indeed the best car on the road. To be frank, you wouldn’t be far wrong. It’s a class act, beyond. The best of its range, at the very least.
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4Matic+
Engine: 429 HP 384 lb.-ft 3-litre turbo gas I6 +hybrid
Drive: 9-speed Automatic AWD
0-40 mph: 2.44 sec
0-60 mph: 5.21 sec
0-100 mph: 11.91 sec
¼-mile: 13.4sec @ 106 mph
50-75 mph: 3.29 sec
75-100 mph: 4.95 sec
VMax: 155 mph
Fuel: 20 mpg
Range: 560 miles
LIST PRICE: $76,960 MSRP