- Trim Tested: AMG GLE 53 Coupe
- Price as Tested: $105,324 (including destination charge)
- Likes: Comfortable ride and ultra-quiet cabin; once at highway speeds, power is delivered effortlessly
- Dislikes: Transmission can be jerky at lowest speeds
- Changes for 2021: The GLE coupe was fully redesigned for 2021 and includes a new version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system.
The AMG GLE is a powerful and handsome luxury SUV, with a well-made cabin that’s chapel quiet, even at highway speeds. If you need to pass anything at highway speeds, the engine is very responsive, and the GLE shoots ahead. The downside is getting to highway speeds: the transmission can be jerky at starting-off speeds – annoyingly so.
We drove the GLE for a week, and these are our impressions.
The GLE, although it’s an SUV, drives like a sports sedan: the handling is impeccable. There’s virtually no body lean when taking sharp curves quickly, and the steering is nicely weighted and responsive. And, as we mentioned, the acceleration – once the SUV is at highway speed – is downright breathtaking.
But when trying to get started, the GLE’s transmission has very sharp shifts, and not in a good way. There’s some hesitation that feels as though the transmission is hunting for the right gear, and then a lurch as the gears connect and propel the SUV forward. If you have a commute that requires long distances at high speed, this might well be the vehicle for you. If you drive in the city at a slow, stop-and-go pace, then you might want to look elsewhere.
Comfort & Quality
The cabin is typically awash in Mercedes black. It’s very dignified, and there aren’t many hard surfaces that the driver comes in contact with.
The front seats are comfortable, even over very long distances. The second row is a little small for adults; I wouldn’t find it easy to sit behind the driver’s seat if it was set for me, and I’m 6-foot-1. The “coupe” shape also limits headroom in the second row – the regular GLE would be a better choice if you regularly carry back-seat passengers. Still, there’s enough room in the back for two adults; three would be pushing it, but a child could fit comfortably between the adults.
The ride is comfortable and the suspension soaks up the bumps and rattles nicely. There wasn’t much in the way of wind and road noise, and the exhaust note only permeated the cabin when the gas pedal was being stomped.
Technology & Usability
Mercedes hasn’t quite grasped the value of Apple’s CarPlay, or at least the automaker seems to want to dissuade drivers from using it. Unlike some other car companies, the touchscreen doesn’t expand CarPlay to the full available width. It’s kept to around 7 inches wide, leaving large swaths of the touchscreen just dark while CarPlay is being used. And beware: there are three USB-C ports to connect a phone to the MBUX system, but only one of them supports CarPlay. We played a bit of tech roulette before we finally figured out the tiny sketch of a smartphone was meant to indicate the correct port.
Of course, in an SUV that’s north of $100K, there’s a lot of other technology on board the AMG GLE 53. Even though there’s a touchscreen, there’s also a pad below to help drivers control the screen. The touchpad, though, is touchy, and incidental contact with it can change what you’re seeing on the touchscreen.
Carfax vehicle overviews let shoppers compare a vehicle’s specs against its competitors. However, some aspects of a vehicle – performance, comfort, usability – can only be evaluated through actual driving. That’s why we evaluate as many vehicles as we can, so you’ll know what to expect.