2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

Starting MSRP: $65,100 - $109,300

Estimated MPG: 17 city / 23 hwy

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe Review

With a stance that shouts “sport” more than “utility,” the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Coupe is the athletic brother to the GLE sport utility vehicle. It’s a vehicle of many personalities -- quiet and smooth around town, but able to unleash a raucous concert of exhaust notes with Sport+ mode selected. Impressive performance comes from a twin-turbo V6.

By John M. Vincent
Last Updated 05/03/2016

There are two variants of the 2016 GLE Coupe, and both feature Mercedes’ AMG tuning. The base GLE450 AMG Coupe is anything but basic, with a starting price of $65,100 and several technology and safety packages available. Step up to the $109,300 AMG GLE63 S Coupe and you’ll earn a 577-horsepower, twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 and a host of additional AMG performance upgrades.

Fastback SUVs have worked well for some automakers (BMW) and been disastrous for others (Acura, Honda). The Mercedes GLE Coupe takes aim directly at the BMW X6, but touts a wider variety of personalities available through its electronically managed driving modes and more intuitive information and entertainment systems.

Exterior

Exterior
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The sporty GLE AMG Coupe rides on the underpinnings of the excellent Mercedes GLE, but takes on a four-door coupe shape, replacing the ample rear cargo area of its stablemate. What it loses in utility, more than makes up in performance and eye-catching design.

The front end of the GLE Coupe is dominated by an array of air intake grilles, but most are actually appearance pieces successfully designed to give a high-performance look. Mercedes’ massive three-point star logo houses advanced electronic safety system sensors.

Twin five-spoke 21-inch AMG wheels are standard, and their open design showcases the large brake rotors and calipers necessary to slow this heavy SUV’s momentum. Two styles of 22-inch wheels are available.

The GLE’s rear-end is a bit understated compared with the rest of the vehicle. The long roofline blends to the curvy rear end with just a small lip spoiler to break up the flow. A satin metal accent panel at the bottom edge neatly integrates the four exhaust outlets.

Interior

Interior
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With the GLE Coupe, Mercedes-Benz continues to set the standard with luxury interior design and materials. Leather seating surfaces are optional, with driver and passenger multi-contour massaging seats available. Numerous wood and carbon fiber-look accents are available, including a gorgeous natural brown ash open-pore wood design that crosses the leather-trimmed dash and door panels.

The screen for the standard COMAND navigation and information screen follows Mercedes’ current modular design, where the iPad-like display almost looks like an afterthought in the process. Despite the high-gloss appearance of the screen, there’s very little glare and information is displayed in a clear, intuitive manner.

As with many German vehicles, the dash is populated with dozens of small buttons and switches. Fortunately, many of the systems can also be controlled through the COMAND interface, steering wheel-mounted switches or via voice prompts.

As you would expect in an SUV, there’s a generous amount of room for the driver and front-seat passenger. With the coupe-like design, headroom in the rear seat begins to be compromised, but not to the extent of competing vehicles. Through a two-step process, the rear seats fold nearly flat in a 60-40 split design. A pass-through center console and panoramic sunroof are available as part of the $3,500 Premium package.

It’s in the rear cargo area where the fastback design creates its greatest compromise. While you would expect the cargo area to be much smaller than what a standard SUV offers, it’s also much more difficult to access. You have to lift luggage high to get over the very exposed rear fascia, and the threshold is very deep. Owners would be well advised to carry a towel to protect the rear bumper from scratches and dings from loading and unloading the cargo area.

Performance

Performance
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The GLE450 AMG Coupe’s heart is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Each time the engine is started, an adaptive drive system tunes the engine and other vehicle systems to a default comfort mode that creates a pleasant and relatively efficient driving experience.

Spin the Dynamic Select dial a click or two to the left and the GLE’s AMG persona comes to life. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the throttle response, transmission shift programming, stability control and air suspension settings are reset for a more enthusiastic driving experience. Dial to Sport+ and the GLE’s exhaust becomes a raspy, burbling symphony deep enough to set off the neighbor’s car alarm.

An Airmatic adaptive air suspension is standard, as is a performance-tuned version of Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system. The nine-speed automatic transmission is managed from a diminutive electronic shifter on the steering column or through steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

While the GLE Coupe certainly doesn’t handle like a sports car, precious few SUVs have anywhere near its on-road prowess. The available Active Curve System ($2,910) constantly adjusts the front and rear stabilizer bars based on driving conditions and style, firming the ride up for twisty sections while offering a more relaxed ride when conditions warrant less aggressive control.

As expected, the AMG performance upgrades take more than a bit of the mileage estimates. The GLE450 AMG Coupe is EPA-rated at 17 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, with a combined 20 mpg rating. In city traffic, an auto start/stop function enhances efficiency.

Technology

Technology
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While Mercedes remains a step behind some others in its seamless integration of technology, the GLE packs quite a punch in terms of available tech. Five years of the company’s mbrace basic telematics connectivity is included with all sales and leases of the vehicle, and an in-car Wi-Fi hot spot is available.

A navigation system is standard with no charge for the first three years of system updates. Most infotainment functions are managed through the COMAND controller with its scroll wheel and advanced touchpad, which can even accept handwritten inputs.

Active full-LED headlights with LED running lights and active high-beam assist are standard. Different regions of the LED array within the headlight illuminate at different times to light the way around corners and stay out of the eyes of oncoming drivers.

The base audio system is excellent, but Mercedes offers two higher-grade systems: a Harman Kardon Logic 7 system and a Bang & Olufsen BeoSound premium system.

Safety

Safety
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The list of standard safety equipment included on the Mercedes GLE450 AMG Coupe reads like an encyclopedia of safety. The critical backup camera is standard, while the available surround view camera system helps fill in the blind spots that the GLE Coupe’s shape creates.

Forward collision warning and intervention is standard, and can intervene at speeds of up to 65 mph to prevent or mitigate the damages and injuries resulting from a front-end collision.

Mercedes’ groundbreaking Pre-Safe and Pre-Safe Plus systems are standard. The systems prepare the vehicle when it determines a collision to be imminent, maximizing the chances that passengers will survive the impact. Adaptive braking technology senses when you might need to brake quickly and moves the brake pads closer to the discs in anticipation.

Available advanced electronic safety systems include a smooth adaptive cruise control system with steering assist, which can guide the GLE Coupe through gentle curves. Active blind spot and lane keeping assist systems gently keep the GLE Coupe from improperly straying from its lane.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The GLE450 AMG Coupe’s main competition is the BMW X6 xDrive35i and its base price of $65,100 (plus $925 destination) is a tick higher than the $62,900 BMW, though the Mercedes offers a higher level of standard equipment. Start adding option packages and technology not offered on the X6 and the Mercedes will easily surpass the BMW’s top price.

Buyers looking for a highly equipped Mercedes GLE450 AMG with the advanced safety packages, active curve assist and one of the upgraded audio systems should expect a price in the mid-$80,000s.

BMW does offer a rear-wheel drive version of the X6 at a price of $60,600, while all GLE models feature all-wheel drive.

Overall

Overall
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If you’re looking for a sport utility vehicle, but you’re willing to sacrifice much of the utility in exchange for sporting intentions and style, the GLE might just be the ticket. Engine performance and handling are exceptional for such a large vehicle, and there’s no substitute for the three-point star on the grille.