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2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE First Drive: Electrifying

The SUV and coupe versions get new styling and tech for 2024 Automotive columnist: , Updated:

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Coupe and SUV
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Coupe and SUV
Photo: D.Heyman

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE.

•    The Mercedes mid-size crossovers get new styling and tech for 2024.

•    Two AMG and two standard models will be available.

Tuscaloosa, AL - Much of the hullabaloo these days when it comes to Mercedes surrounds their EQ line -- which includes an electric version of the GLE, dubbed EQE. But there’s plenty of life still left for the popular GLE crossover and crossover-coupe; to wit, Mercedes is adding new styling and features to both models for 2024.

To see up close the makeover the GLE SUV and GLE Coupe have been given, we made our way to Tuscaloosa, Alabama – home of both the famous Crimson Tide college football team and the plant where the GLEs are built – to see what this updated mid-size SUV is all about.

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Front
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Front
Photo: D.Heyman

The exterior
The GLE has undergone a minor styling revision for 2024, punctuated by new LED daytime running lights, a new front apron on the AMG 53 models and new LED taillights. The AMG models also now get an AMG emblem atop the hood instead of the Three Pointed Star they used to get - though as you can see, the latter still rests proudly at the centre of the broad grille. There are also two new colours – Alpine Grey and Sodalite Blue – as well as new 22-inch wheels for the AMG 63 model. 

Overall, the look is handsome but not overstated, Mercedes preferring to let their more overt styling rest with the EQ line of vehicles. 

I have to say that even with the new taillights, they still haven’t got the Coupe’s rear fascia quite right. It’s still too kicked up at the rear, as if it’s wearing its pants too high. In Mercedes’ defence, the BMX X6 and X4 suffer from a similar affliction; of all the four-door coupes out there only the Cayenne really gets it right. 

Strong points

  • Front fascia refresh works well
  • Black wheels, red brake calipers

Weak points

  • Rear end of Coupe model
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Interior
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Interior
Photo: D.Heyman

The interior
On the tech front, this is ultra-slick with its twin digital displays for gauges/infotainment, jeweled Burmester audio speakers (a Mercedes-Benz staple that now gets Dolby Atmos support), metallicized climate and audio controls and high-quality leather seats and door inserts. For 2024, we see the arrival of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which was a long time coming considering much less expensive SUVs and CUVs already offer it. 

It's possible to customize and modify the gauge cluster with a touchpad mounted to the left steering wheel spoke. That’s also what you use to toggle the heads-up display, although you do have to remember to swipe up from the main menu to get there. 

The steering wheel has been redesigned, adding more responsive buttons but still featuring the same oddly shaped plastic shift paddles. You also get the twin spoke-mounted dials, one of which is for adjusting the drive mode, the other for everything from adjusting damper settings to exhaust note. 

The infotainment display can be controlled either by a thumbpad on the right wheel spoke, via touchscreen or by a touchpad mounted atop the transmission tunnel. There’s also “hey Mercedes” voice control, now more responsive and open to more commands than previous, and there are new cameras allowing you to see what’s happening below you when off-roading. With all that joining the augmented reality navigation system, you have a very robust on-board computer.

That’s all good, but the sheer amount of data on the screens can be overwhelming; certain versions of the gauges look busy. Yes all this info is available, with different ways of accessing it, but fact is I had to spend 12 minutes finding certain basic menus. That shouldn’t be, and there are vehicles out there – not all of them luxury ones -- providing infotainment systems that are slick-looking and powerful, but easier to operate.

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Seating
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Seating
Photo: D.Heyman

From seat comfort and features to driver’s seating position to accessibility, the front row space is all right on. The back row is fine as well with room for two adults with little drama. Though of course, it’s a little different in the Coupe, the steep roofline and rear deck of which do compromise rear headroom. It also means you can’t load your wares quite as high as you can in the regular SUV.  

Style-wise, I’m a fan of the smart use of aluminum throughout the cabin – especially on the achingly gorgeous Burmester speaker grilles. The two-tone leather seating is a great mix of high-quality materials and the lighting is spot-on, no matter which of the ambient lighting colours you choose (or are chosen for you; the lighting changes with the selectable cockpit themes). 

I’m not totally sold on the brown woodgrain interior seen in our tester, however. It doesn’t really say “AMG” or “high performance” to me. Some carbon or dark ash inserts would be a better choice. 

Strong points

  • Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
  • Wireless charging
  • Improved voice commands

Weak points

  • Rear headroom in Coupe
  • Brown wood inserts in AMG model
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Three-quarters rear
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Heyman

The drive
Power comes courtesy of three engines (four if you include the two tunes one of them gets), all mild hybrids for 2024. 

The GLE 350 has a 2.0L turbo (255 hp, 295 lb-ft of torque), the GLE 450 a 3.0L turbo inline-6, (375 hp, 369 lb-ft). Then you have the GLE 53 AMG 3.0L (451 hp, 561 lb-ft) and the GLE AMG 63 S model we tested. This fire-breathing twin-turbo V8 mild hybrid is good for 625 hp and a colossal 812 lb-ft.

That all gets transmitted to the wheels – two or four, depending on conditions – via a 9-speed torque-converter auto transmission, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Indeed, the GLE AMG 63 S has a very, very good powertrain. Straight power is one thing, but the way the mild hybrid system steps in to help you off the line and improve power delivery as you move through the gears is really the highlight. Power interruption between shifts is basically imperceptible and it allows for acceleration no matter the speed you’re at or the gear you’re in.

When it comes time to slow things down, it takes pressure off the gas engine, saving fuel in the process. 

And fear not, the V8 still sounds absolutely ferocious, delivering an ear-bending mix of old-school muscle car and GT racer. 

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Profile
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Profile
Photo: D.Heyman

No surprise, the GLE 63 is a fine handler. At over 2,500 kg, it’s no lightweight and you will feel it as the turns accumulate and the body starts moving around more, but it takes a lot to get it unsettled when it comes to handling. A little more feel through the steering wheel would be welcome, but the rack is a responsive one, and you can get it to weigh up by using Individual drive mode, which lets you set specific settings for the powertrain and chassis.

Personally, I stuck with heavier steering and a more relaxed powertrain even though the GLE 63 is the high-performance model. Often I wanted to cruise serenely along more than than tear strips out of it, and that’s tough to do as the controls are on the heavier side in the GLE 63. Still, the vehicle provides great wheel control and keeps the body nice and level through longer sweepers. Aside from a few cowl shudders over angled road imperfections (which do twist the chassis, just a little), this is a ride as luxurious as a Benz SUV costing in and around 90 grand should have.

Strong points

  • Gobsmacking power
  • Handling for this large SUV

Weak points

  • Ride is firm, controls are heavy

Here are a few of your questions about the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE:

Do both the Coupe and SUV models get the same trims?
Correct. Anything you can get with the SUV, you can get with the Coupe and vice versa.

Other markets get a GLE 450 plug-in hybrid version. Is that coming to Canada?
At the time of writing, there is no plans to bring that model – officially called GLE 450e – to Canadian markets. 

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Exhaust tips
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Exhaust tips
Photo: D.Heyman

The final word
Hot damn, is the 63 quick. It remains a testament to the heyday of the internal combustion engine, but with just a little electrification to bring it up to speed with current market trends. 

The question then is, do you go Coupe or SUV? I didn’t to drive the former on this event, but it’s a vehicle I’ve sampled before, pre-facelift. And having done so, I just don’t see enough value to go with the Coupe. Even in AMG form, I still prefer the styling and practicality of the SUV, as there’s little to no difference between the two other than styling. The Coupe is the model for those who like to play the disruptor when it comes to their vehicle, but the SUV is the one for me, just as it was the year before this, and the year before that.


On-board space
Fuel economy

The competition

Acura MDX
Audi Q5/Q5 Sportback
Audi SQ5/RSQ5
Genesis GV80
Lexus RX Series
Porsche Cayenne/Cayenne Coupe
Volvo XC90

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Rear
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE - Rear
Photo: D.Heyman

Road Tests and Reviews

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
Review this Vehicle
Space and Access
Driving Dynamics
General Appreciation
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