From BlueTEC to 63 S, Mercedes’ GLE-Class variants easily over shadow its old ML moniker

Mercedes-Benz has shelved the nearly 20-year old M-Class moniker. For 2016, the company’s mid-size SUV has been rechristened GLE-Class, which is not to be confused with the GLE Coupe.

Set to debut next week at the New York Motor Show, the GLE stands out from the outgoing M thanks to a comprehensively redesigned front fascia that borrows styling cues from the afformentioned BMW X6-fighting GLE Coupe that was presented earlier this year at the Detroit Motor Show. The off-roader gains sharper headlights with integrated daytime running lights, more upright twin-slat radiator grille, revamped lower bumper, and more muscular-looking hood with two power domes.

Inside, the GLE benefits from a larger, more user-friendly screen that runs Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system and a sportier three-spoke steering wheel. New interior colors such as porcelain, espresso brown and ginger beige add an extra touch of elegance to the cockpit.

Going green

The GLE is Mercedes’ first regular-production plug-in hybrid SUV. Positioned near the top of the lineup, the GLE550e 4MATIC is powered by a gasoline-electric drivetrain consisting of a 329-horsepower direct-injected V6 engine and a compact electric motor that makes 114 ponies. Together, the two power sources send 436 horsepower and a massive 479 foot-pounds of torque to all four wheels via a hybrid-specific seven-speed automatic transmission.

Built into the gearbox, the motor draws electricity from a 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The pack can be fully charged in about two hours when plugged into a wallbox charger.

A switch located on the center console lets the driver choose one of four driving modes called Hybrid, E-Save, Charge and E-Mode, respectively. Hybrid uses both power sources to deliver the best possible blend of performance and fuel efficiency, E-Save shuts off the electric motor in order to keep the battery’s full charge for a later time and Charge tops up the pack on-the-go. In E-Mode, the GLE can drive on electricity alone for over 18 miles at speeds of up to 81 mph.

Hybrid aside, the M’s engines carry over to the GLE with only minor modifications. The GLE400 4MATIC (formerly called ML400) uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 mill rated at 329 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque, and the GLE350 (née ML350) is powered by a direct-injected V6 tuned to generate 302 ponies and 273 lb-ft. of twist. Both models can tow up to 7,700 pounds when properly equipped.

The GLE300d replaces the ML250 BlueTEC. Power comes from a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine that pumps out 201 hp at 3,800 rpm and a stout 369 lb-ft. of torque between 1,600 and 1,800 rpm. The oil-burner shifts through a seven-speed automatic that can be paired with an off-road-focused reduction gear and an inter-axle differential lock.

Sports car on stilts

Mercedes’ newly-formed Mercedes-AMG sub-brand has taken the outgoing ML63 and turned the dial up to 11. The familiar 5.5-liter V8 remains but the GLE63 4MATIC now packs 550 horsepower, over 30 ponies more than the ML63, and 516 lb-ft. of torque. Finally, the new-for-2016 GLE63 S 4MATIC rounds out the lineup with an evolution of the V8 whose output has been bumped to 577 horsepower and 561 foot-pounds of torque. These figures allow it to reach 60 mph from a stop in just 4.2 seconds – nearly on par with the 2016 C63 – before topping out at 155 mph.

The AMG siblings feature thoroughly upgraded brakes and a sport-tuned suspension. Additionally, both models come standard with an Active Curve System that uses active anti-roll bars on both axles to keep body roll in check both on and off the track.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class will go on sale across the nation in the coming months. Pricing information will be published closer to its launch.


Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.
Emerging Tech

Too buzzed to drive? Don’t worry — this autonomous car-bar will drive to you

It might just be the best or worst idea that we've ever heard: A self-driving robot bartender you can summon with an app, which promises to mix you the perfect drink wherever you happen to be.

Michigan OKs digital license plates with Rplate’s connected car platform

The state of Michigan approved the use of digital license plates on motor vehicles registered in the state. Reviver Auto, the manufacturer of the Rplate connected car platform, worked with Michigan's Department of State to pass the bill.

This Chevy Silverado pickup truck is made from more than 300,000 Lego bricks

To promote The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part, Lego and Chevrolet teamed up on a life-size replica of the automaker's Silverado pickup truck made from more than 300,000 plastic bricks.

Prices for using Tesla Supercharging just skyrocketed

Tesla is updating their Supercharging pricing based on local electricity rates and customer demand, which has lead to an increase in charging costs by as much as 33 percent in some regions.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Can electric motors finally make three-wheeled cars great?

Every few years, someone tries to sell a three-wheeled vehicle to Americans. Historically, it hasn’t gone very well. We’ve got our suspicions about why people don’t buy trikes, and they boil down to this: a trike is just not a real…