© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Mark Savage's auto review column, Savage On Wheels, looks at a new vehicle every week and tells consumers what’s good, what’s not so good, and how the vehicle fits into the marketplace.

2024 Mercedes Benz GLE 450 4Matic review

2024 Mercedes Benz GLE 450 4Matic right side
Mark Savage
Savage On Wheels
2024 Mercedes Benz GLE 450 4Matic right side

If you’re into gizmotronics and SUVs overbrimming with fiddly bits while still cuddling you with luxurious leather, well then Mercedes-Benz has something special for you.

Its name, or call letters, is GLE.

GLE is a midsize SUV with multiple power choices, an optional third row seat (although that would be tight) and even seven colors that cost nothing extra. However, the tested Cardinal Red Metallic GLE 450 4Matic adds $1,750 for its sparkly redness.

But that’s the least of it for a braggin’ wagon that’ll wow the neighbors as it’s naturally handsome with a big Mercedes peace sign (non-Boomers look it up) on its darkened grille ($400 extra for black trim). The 450 version is a middler. That is, it’s mid-grade luxury of the three GLE offerings, yet still approaches $100,000.

So, let’s put the pricing right out front, because from a performance and luxury standpoint it has everything and then some.

The base GLE 350 starts at $63,800 with delivery while the tested GLE 450 tilts the banker’s scales at $70,650 and the totally upscale GLE 540 lists at $87,850. But wait, there’s more.

While the base model features a perfectly fine 2.0-liter turbo I4 making 255 horses, the test SUV packed a 3.0-liter turbo I6 delivering an ultra-smooth 375 horses via a 9-speed automatic, same in all models. Top-end is the 4.0-liter turbo V8 in the GLE 580, making 510 horses. Oh, and there’s a plug-in hybrid model now too, the GLE 450e with its electric power boosting the horses to 381. It’s even the same price as the tested 450, which has a mild hybrid system to smooth its stop-start system and aid engine efficiency.

Our test model though went bonkers adding 25 options. That’s 25, count ‘em! Total add-on cost nearly $27,000, or the price of a decent small car.

Beyond paint there is the plush black and tan leather interior costing $1,620, along with black piano lacquer flowing lines wood trim for $850, and a body-colored roof spoiler for $685. That’s for the exterior. Oh, and don’t forget the illuminated brushed aluminum running boards (a bit narrow) for $650 or the fancy AMG (racy Mercedes division) 21-inch five-spoke wheels with black accents for $1,100.

Functionally and inside, there’s even more layered onto the $70,000 sticker.

For instance, and I can’t list everything here, there’s a Driver Assistance package for $1,950 that includes most of the safety features one might assume come standard. Not here. This includes lane change assist, emergency stopping assist, evasive steering assist, lane-keeping, blind-spot warning, speed limit assist and more.

Need your front seats warm, along with the front arm rests and door panels? That’s a $575 package. And these are rapidly warming seats. A Pinnacle trim package cools the front seats, adds a booming 590-watt Burmester surround system, plus heated and cooled front cup holders. You read that right. Oh, and Pinnacle adds front door courtesy lights that shine a big Mercedes logo on the ground next to the car when the doors are open. Nice at night!

Close these soft-close doors and they latch themselves, but that’s a $550 add-on and another $500 for heated rear seats.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Final tally was $97,505 for the test vehicle.

As for performance, well, the 375-horse turbo I6 is impressive as it must haul this 5,060-pound SUV to highway speeds that Car and Driver insists happens in about 5.5 seconds. The acceleration is smooth and quiet. Braking down from such speeds is also impressive with 14.8-inch rotors up front and 13.6-inch rotors in back.

The handling is well-balanced in corners and steering effort is light making for easy in town maneuvering and highway cruising.

The ride is mostly well controlled and cushioned, yet there’s a minivan-type feel here where some pavement creases can deliver abrupt thumps. There’s an air suspension ($1,710 extra) that uses adaptive damping, so you’d think that would totally smooth out the ride in Comfort mode. It will, Mercedes claims, help rock the vehicle effectively to extract the SUV from mud or sand when you take the GLE off-trail or onto a beach. OK?

I’m thinking the 4Matic (AWD) system is likely more help there, and it is standard on all GLE models.

Inside the suave, smart and serene interior the coddling occurs as not only are the seats and door panels a fine leather, but the seats can be adjusted a variety of ways and also engage in heavy or mild massaging for driver and front passenger. Don’t doze off now!

All this is accomplished by tapping a couple buttons on the info screen portion of the dual 12.3-inch displays that merge as one unit covering two-thirds of the dash. The adjusting is easy, but one must slide one or more screens to find it. Yet Mercedes also offers the Hey Mercedes digital assistant here. So, one can verbally ask for a massage with no tipping required.

The center touchscreen is easy to use, but there are so many levels it’s best to engage all features you want before starting to drive. That Burmester stereo is special and there’s wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay too, along with a super navigation system a power tilt-telescope steering wheel and ambient lighting. A wireless phone charger cradle sits in the console below the screen.

In addition to the leather on the doors, seats and armrests all trim is satin chrome on speaker covers, air vents, door releases and dash climate control buttons, all of which are well labeled. The heated steering wheel button though is hidden in plain sight on the left side of the steering column, where literally no one else puts it, so not intuitive. It adds $450 to the cost.

The touch-sensitive controls ($600) on the wood and leather steering wheel’s hub are overly sensitive and are sometimes engaged by the slightest brush. A couple times the radio suddenly went to nearly full volume requiring a quick roll of the console-mounted volume control. The one on the steering wheel is difficult to modulate.

For families, the GLE 450 will happily hold five adults comfortably with plenty of rear seat legroom in particular and generous cargo space behind that second row seat. Fold those down and this hauls like a wagon or minivan.

Overhead is a massive panoramic sunroof, a $1,000 option that includes a power sunshade. Bravo!

Naturally the hatch is powered but is a bit too tall when open for folks 5'6" or less to press the power hatch button. A solution, of sorts, is another button inside the cargo area that will lower the tail an inch or so, primarily for loading and unloading. Seems a bit much to use every time one wants to close the hatch. Just use the key fob.

Several passengers asked, why is it so quiet in the Benz?

Well, for $1,100 an Acoustic Comfort package adds more cabin insulation, and side windows include acoustic and infrared absorbing films, the later also used on the windshield. This option seems worth it as it brings a sense of serenity to the interior.

Two things a driver will need to get used to though are the thin gear shift lever on the steering column’s right side and the massive roof pillars that obstruct side views somewhat. The latter is an issue in most SUVs though. The shifter location is just unusual in today’s vehicles.

Note too, the GLE 450 drinks premium fuel and gas mileage on this mild hybrid is just OK. The EPA says to expect 19 mpg city and 26 highway. I got 22 in a fairly even mix.

Still, the performance is strong, and the luxury level gadgetry and gizmos excel in the GLE. Seems all it really needs is a Turbo Encabulator (look it up, you’ll thank me). Wonder how much that would add to the bottom line?

FAST STATS: 2024 Mercedes Benz GLE 450 4Matic

Hits: Luxury look and feel, plus oodles of tech and doodads. Strong power, light easy handling, multiple drive modes, AWD, and extremely quiet interior. Luxury leather interior with heated/cooled seats with massage feature, killer stereo, mega-sunroof, wireless charger, comfy well-formed seats, 24-inch dual one-piece display screens. Excellent brakes, safety systems and even heated/cooled cupholders.

Misses: Firm ride still can jiggle on bumpy roads, tall hatch a bit hard to reach, drinks high-octane gas, column shifter is odd placement, massive roof pillars obstruct side views, slim running boards and high price.

Made in: Vance, Ala.

Engine: 3.0-liter I6 turbo, 375 hp/369 torque

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

Weight: 5,060 lbs.

Wheelbase: 117.9 in.

Length: 193.9 in.

Cargo: 33.3-74.9 cu.ft.

MPG: 19/26

MPG: 22.0 (tested)

Base Price: $70,650 (includes delivery)

Invoice: N.A.

Major Options:

Cardinal red metallic paint, $1,750

Beige/black leather interior, $1,620

Black piano lacquer flowing lines wood trim, $850

Roof spoiler, $685

Load sill protector, $220

First aid kit, $35

Wood/leather multifunction steering wheel, $600

Winter pkg. (heated wheel, heated washer system), $450

21-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels w/black accents, $1,100

MB-Tex upper dash & door beltlines, $350

Dashcam, $200

Panoramic sunroof, $1,000

Trailer hitch, $600

Trailer maneuvering assist, $350

4-zone climate control, $860

Illuminated brushed aluminum running boards, $650

Heated rear seats, $500

Soft-close doors, $550

Driver assistance pkg. (active distance assist Distronic, active steering assist, active lane change assist, active emergency stop, active speed limit assist, active brake assist w/cross-traffic function, evasive steering assist, active lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot assist, Pre-Safe Plus rear collision protection, route-based speed adaptation, active stop-and-go assist, speed-limit assist), $1,950

Warmth and comfort pkg. (rapid heating front seats, heated front armrests and door panels), $575

Night pkg. (black front splitter, grille trim, rear diffuser, side mirrors, window trim, roof rails, $400

Acoustic comfort pkg. (increased cabin insulation, windshield w/infrared reflecting film, side windows w/acoustic and infrared absorbing film), $1,100

AIRMATIC pkg. (AIRMATIC suspension, adaptive damping system), $1,710

AMG Line exterior (AMG body styling with body color wheel arches, AMG wheels, AMG Star pattern grille), $3,150

Pinnacle trim (Burmester surround sound system, augmented video for navigation, cooled front seats, HUD, multi-contour front seats w/massage, heated/cooled front cupholders, MBUX interior assistant, Air-Balance, LED intelligent light system, Mercedes star logo projectors for front doors) $5,600

Test vehicle: $97,505

Sources: Mercedes-Benz, www.kbb.com

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
Related Content