If you feel you’ve reached a point where a luxury SUV needs to part of your life, but your thrifty side sees no need to overpay for such an indulgence, a previously owned 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class might just be the perfect solution. Formerly known as the M-Class, Mercedes-Benz changed the name to GLE in 2016, then added a few visual upgrades and a plug-in hybrid model. A 4-door coupe version also joined GLE lineup, but is not included in this review.
The 2016 GLE-Class offers a wide range of models and features. From the base GLE350 V6 to the diesel-powered GLE300d to the tire-scorching GLE63 AMG, there’s a GLE-Class to fit just about anyone’s needs. For 2016, the GLE550e plug-in hybrid was added, offering a 436 horsepower hybrid that can travel 18 miles solely on electric power. Among its peers, the GLE-Class is not as soft-riding as the Lexus RX, but not as harsh as the BMW X5 — this Benz hits the sweet spot between performance, comfort and utility. The GLE-Class is also renowned for its excellent safety record.
Another advantage of buying a late model GLE is the ability to get a certified pre-owned (CPO) GLE-Class through an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealer. Do so, and you’ll get an extended warranty, plus a rigorous inspection process.
What We Like
Numerous model options; excellent safety features; diesel and plug-in hybrid option; most models feature standard all-wheel drive; roomy interior
What We Don’t
No third-row seat option; routine maintenance can be pricey; steep learning curve for navigation and audio interface; skimpy standard equipment list for the price
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The GLE-Class is powered by a number of engine choices, and all but the base GLE350 utilize an advanced all-wheel-drive setup known as 4MATIC as standard equipment (it is optional on the GLE350). A 7-speed automatic is also standard on all models.
The GLE350 uses a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy for the GLE350 at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The GLE350 4MATIC burns a bit more fuel at 18 mpg city/22 mpg hwy. The diesel-powered GLE300d is powered by a 2.1-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder producing 200 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for this model is a respectable 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.
Moving up the line brings the twin-turbocharged V6 in the GLE400 and the V8-powered ML63 AMG. The GLE400 has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 producing 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, about average for this class. The GLE550e plug-in hybrid employs a 3.0-liter V6 hybrid producing 436 hp with a combined 21 mpg, 43 mpge combined and an all-electric range of 18 miles. The high-performance GLE63 AMG gets a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V8 producing 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is understandably low at just 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2016 GLE-Class comes in five distinct trims: GLE350, GLE300d, GLE400, GLE550e and GLE63 AMG.
The base GLE350 includes rear-wheel drive, a power sunroof, 8-way power and heated front seats with 4-way power lumbar for the driver, a 8-inch color COMAND display with an 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD radio (also equipped with HD Radio), Bluetooth, mbrace2 telematics, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power rear liftgate, MB-Tex imitation-leather upholstery, fog lights, 19-in alloy wheels and a tilt-telescopic steering wheel. Standard safety features include nine airbags and Mercedes’ Collision Prevention Assist.
The GLE300d features most of the same equipment as the GLE350 but adds 18-in wheels, 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a turbodiesel engine.
The GLE400 receives more exterior trim, the Premium package, Keyless Go, 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio, 20-in wheels, leather seating, ventilated front seats and the Lane Tracking package.
The GLE550e includes most of the same features as the GLE400, minus the ventilated front seats.
The GLE63 AMG adds 20-in wheels, a performance suspension, steering and brakes by AMG, the AIRMATIC suspension, active roll stabilization, 10-way heated and ventilated front sport seats, a flat-bottom performance steering wheel, navigation, a 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and leather upholstery on the seats, dash and door panels.
Most of the M-Class’ best equipment can be found in the option packages. The Premium package adds hard-drive navigation with 10 gigabytes of music storage, an iPod interface, a 14-way power driver’s seat with 3-position memory, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, power-folding side mirrors and a rearview camera.
The Exterior Sport package adds 19- or 20-in AMG 5-spoke wheels and AMG lower-body styling.
The Lighting package adds bi-xenon headlights with curve illumination, adaptive high beams and headlight washers.
The On/Off-Road package adds the AIRMATIC adjustable suspension, a 2-stage transfer case, a locking differential, skid plates and six selectable driving programs.
The Driver Assist package adds an active blind spot monitoring system, lane-keep assist system plus DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control.
Notable stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, a leather interior, massaging front seats, Mercedes’ PARKTRONIC park-assist system, heated rear seats, 20-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio, 21-in wheels, a heated steering wheel, Active Curve System, a rear-seat entertainment system and a wood-and-leather steering wheel.
The GLE-Class holds its value fairly well in the first few years and sees average depreciation values after that. A 2016 model with low miles that’s in good condition shouldn’t be hard to find. If you can find a CPO (see the Safety Ratings & Warranties section for details) model, it may be your best bet. To get a good idea of the GLE-Class’ price range, we suggest checking the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class:
The 2016 GLE had numerous recalls. Among the issues of note include an oil leak in the Active Curve System that might result in an engine fire; excess insulation that may impede front passenger airbag deployment; possible loss of electric power steering due to water entering the power steering control unit; incorrect airbag control unit software; incorrect classification system may deactivate front airbags and a low beam headlight out of adjustment.
Should a recall be issued at a later date, remember that all recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they’ll fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website; simply enter your vehicle’s identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
Mercedes-Benz provided the GLE-Class with a 4-year/50,000-mile fully transferable warranty that includes engine, powertrain and bumper-to-bumper coverage. If you buy a CPO GLE-Class, you’ll receive a vehicle that has undergone a rigorous inspection by a certified Mercedes-Benz technician. The CPO warranty covers the car for 12 months, with no mileage limit from the date the original warranty expires, as well as any remainder of the original factory warranty. Buyers can also opt for extended coverage for up to two years and unlimited miles from the original service date after the limited warranty expires. All CPO cars must be less than six years old to qualify for the program.
As for safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 GLE-Class its best rating of Good in every category, a Superior rating in the crash avoidance and mitigation test and a Top Safety Pick + award.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Infiniti QX70 — The QX70 also offers a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, but it doesn’t offer a V8 despite having sportier handling than most GLE-Class models. You’ll get better and more reliable features for the money with the QX70, but a smaller interior and a tiny cargo bay.
2016 BMW X5 — The X5 is a better performance vehicle than the GLE-Class, but its ride can be harsh, and like the GLE, models get expensive as features are added. The X5 also offers an efficient turbodiesel model and plug-in hybrid.
2016 Acura MDX — You’ll get better reliability and resale from the MDX, plus a larger interior, a more comfortable ride and a third-row seat. A loaded MDX costs less than a similarly equipped GLE-Class.
We think you’ll get your best bargain with either the GLE350 or GLE300d. The standard V6 is more than adequate, and the diesel-powered GLE300d will give you better acceleration and fuel economy. Try to find one with the Premium and Driver Assist packages, and you’ll have a nicely equipped luxury SUV at a reasonable price.