SUV of the Year

Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class: 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalist

New Midsize Luxury SUV Offers Incredible Variety

New Midsize Luxury SUV Offers Incredible Variety

Automakers invited to an Of the Year party are welcome to field as many variants as they’re willing to send—within reason. Mercedes-Benz wanted to represent its new GLE model line with nine vehicles. We talked them down to five. Still, that provided us with two body styles (SUV and new “Coupe”), five engines, two transmissions, a $58,000 range in pricing, and an array of features from basic to night vision. The GLE is what Mercedes-Benz once called the ML-Class, which arguably invented the midsize premium crossover in 1997. The introduction of the fastback/hatchback “Coupe” body style is the latest example of a four-door thing being described as something that’s traditionally been a two-door. Then again, a sedan used to be an enclosed single chair carried on poles by servants. Times change.

Stay tuned to MotorTrend.com as the 2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year contenders and finalists are revealed in advance of the official winner announcement on the evening of November 16. Learn about other SUV of the Year contenders and finalists at the links below. Check out the SUV of the Year evaluation process HERE, and discover how our Of The Year awards have evolved HERE.

If you’re looking for the ne plus ultra GLE Coupe, then the $110,225 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S is the one, with its 5.5-liter, twin-turbo V-8 with 577 hp, all-wheel drive, and a 0-60 time of just 3.9 seconds. Frank Markus summed it up: “The Coupes have wildly impractical packaging and controversial styling. That said, they’re highly capable off-road, and I prefer them to the BMW X6 for their superior on-road behavior (engine, sound, ride quality, and interior packaging).”

The “two-box” GLE we feel best represents the SUV is the midlevel $65,685 GLE400 4Matic, powered by a V-8-like 329-hp, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6. Although a miserly 2.1-liter, inline-four, turbodiesel GLE300d 4Matic earns better EPA combined fuel economy (24 mpg), the GLE400 4Matic’s 20 mpg combined isn’t a bad trade-off for its 5.6-second dash to 60 mph (versus 8.9). Still, we wonder why a new transmission found solely in the GLE450 Coupe wasn’t used across the line. Christian Seabaugh opined, “It seems to be the perfect opportunity to put the nine-speed in across the board.” The cabin of the new GLE SUV didn’t make us feel as special as one would hope, either. Said Scott Evans: “Same old but slightly more refined Benz interior, particularly the center stack. Time to try something new, guys.”

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class GLE300d 4Matic GLE400 4Matic GLE500e 4Matic GLE450 AMG Coupe 4Matic AMG GLE63 S Coupe 4Matic
Base Price $53,585 $65,685 $70,000 (est) $66,025 $110,225
Price As Tested $71,943 $81,835 $75,000 (est) $84,645 $122,044
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.1L/201-hp/369-lb-ft turbodiesel 16-valve I-4 3.0.L/329-hp/354-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.0L/436-hp/479-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus 114-hp/151-lb-ft electric motor, 436 hp/479 lb-ft combined 3.0.L/362-hp/384-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6 5.5L/577-hp/561-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8
Transmission 7-speed automatic 7-speed automatic 7-speed automatic 9-speed automatic 7-speed automatic
Length x Width x Height 192.9 x 78.9 x 68.1 in 192.9 x 78.9 x 68.1 in 192.9 x 78.9 x 68.1 in 192.9 x 78.9 x 68.1 in 192.9 x 78.9 x 68.1 in
Wheelbase 114.8 in 114.8 in 114.8 in 114.8 in 114.8 in
Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 5,028 lb (53/47%) 4,837 lb (53/47%) 5,522 lb (50/50%) 5,109 lb (53/47%) 5,359 lb (54/46%)
Acceleration, 0-60 mph 8.9 sec 5.6 sec 5.2 sec 5.1 sec 3.9 sec
Quarter Mile 16.6 sec @ 81.7 mph 14.1 sec @ 97.3 mph 13.7 sec @ 100.6 mph 13.8 sec @ 99.1 mph 12.5 sec @ 110.5 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 130 ft 130 ft 126 ft 107 ft 112 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.77 g (avg) 0.75 g (avg) 0.71 g (avg) 0.96 g (avg) 0.93 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.8 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) 27.8 sec @ 0.65 g (avg) 29.8 sec @ 0.57 g (avg) 25.3 sec @ 0.76 g (avg) 25.2 sec @ 0.77 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 22/29/24 mpg 18/22/20 mpg Not yet rated 17/23/20 mpg 14/18/15 mpg
Energy Consumption, City/Hwy 171/130 kW-hrs/100 miles 187/153 kW-hrs/100 miles N/A 198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles 241/187 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 Emissions 0.90 lb/mile 0.99 lb/mile N/A 1.01 lb/mile 1.25 lb/mile
Real MPG City/Hwy/Comb 23/20/22

2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Contenders:

2016 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalists: