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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2016

You may have already heard of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, which has replaced the M-Class for the 2016 model year, bringing a new name and a few subtle revisions. But despite the similar moniker, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is a completely different vehicle, from its engines to its distinctive look, and it holds a totally new place in the Mercedes lineup: that of a sporty, stylish, coupelike SUV.

If the BMW X6 is the first thing you think of when you hear that description, you're on the right track. The new GLE Coupe will compete directly with the X6, just as the upcoming GLC Coupe will square off against the smaller X4 as both Mercedes and BMW grow their SUV lineups to meet increasing demand. And just how does the GLE Coupe do, both as an X6 rival and an overall sporty luxury SUV? Here's what we think.

What's New for 2016?

The GLE Coupe is a totally new SUV for 2016, though it shares many mechanical components with the regular GLE, which in turn carries over a great number of characteristics of the brand's popular M-Class SUV.

What We Like

Bold styling; impressive performance; lots of available equipment; more room in back than you might expect

What We Don't

Still not that much room in back; aging interior largely borrowed from GLE and M-Class; high base price; not much cargo space

How Much?

$66,100-$110,200

Fuel Economy

The GLE Coupe offers two engines. The base-level GLE450 uses a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes an impressive 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with a 9-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, and it boasts up to 17 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.

Meanwhile, the sporty AMG GLE63 S comes standard with a turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 that makes 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. It's also mated to standard all-wheel drive, though the AMG's transmission is a 7-speed automatic. Fuel economy stands at a middling 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The base-level GLE450 ($66,100) comes standard with an impressive list of equipment. There are 21-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, adaptive LED headlights, heated power front seats, automatic wipers, an adaptive air suspension, an 8-in central display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Mercedes' MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, a navigation system, a backup camera, a power tilt-telescopic steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power lift gate and a USB port for music.

Upgrade to the Premium package, and you'll get a panoramic sunroof, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist and keyless access with a push-button starter. Drivers can also opt for the Parking Assist package, which includes front and rear parking sensors, an automated parallel parking system and a surround-view camera system.

Meanwhile, the high-performance AMG GLE63 S ($110,200) comes standard with both the Premium and Parking Assist packages and adds 22-in wheels, full leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and a series of performance-oriented upgrades such as improved brakes, a sport exhaust, sport-tuned steering and sport seats.

The Convenience package is optional on both models and adds soft-closing doors, an interior air purifier, heated and cooled cupholders and a Rear Climate package with tri-zone automatic climate control and heated rear seats. Also optional for both is the Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert and forward-collision warning with automatic braking. The GLE450 offers full leather upholstery and ventilated front seats as an option.

Safety

Although the GLE Coupe has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the M-Class (which includes a totally different body design but many of the same mechanical features) earned a perfect 5-star overall score. We hope the GLE Coupe replicates that performance. It's the same story with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: While the GLE Coupe has not yet been tested, the standard GLE has earned the nonprofit's Top Safety Pick designation.

As for safety features, all GLE models come standard with the basics: anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags and traction control with stability control. Options include lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic parallel parking, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system and a forward-collision warning system with automatic braking.

Behind the Wheel

Despite the GLE Coupe's heft teamed up with a standard V6 engine, it moves swiftly. Even the GLE450 offers a lot of power, excellent performance and strong acceleration. But if you want serious performance, you'll want the AMG GLE63 S, which touts sports-car-like acceleration, a throaty exhaust note and some serious upgrades over the base-level GLE.

As for handling, there's little doubt the GLE Coupe is impressive. Although steering is a bit vague, it's direct and quick, and the coupe zips around corners like a vehicle with much less physical size and weight. Of course, it's no replacement for a sports car, and you can feel physics at work in tight turns or at high speeds. As for ride quality, the GLE Coupe's driver-selectable adaptive air suspension ensures that you can choose between sporty and rough or compliant and comfortable depending on your mood.

Although sloped-roof vehicles such as the GLE Coupe usually cause us to complain about rear visibility, that isn't quite the case here. Visibility isn't perfect, to be sure, but it's much better than in many sloped-roof models (the old Acura ZDX comes to mind) and not too far off the boxier, more traditional GLE.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 BMW X6 -- The boldly styled, performance-oriented BMW X6 is the GLE Coupe's closest competitor. We happen to think the GLE Coupe looks more aggressive than the X6, but if you're looking for a sporty luxury SUV with some style, both of these models should be on your shopping list.

2016 Infiniti QX70 -- Think of the QX70 as a bargain-priced alternative to the GLE Coupe for drivers who don't want to spend $70,000-plus on a new vehicle. It also offers bold styling, lots of technology and available V8 power.

2016 Land Rover Range Rover Sport -- The Range Rover Sport offers driving styles from docile and civilized to loud and sporty, and while it doesn't have the GLE Coupe's look, it comes with an excellent reputation.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe will have a limited appeal, as it's primarily aimed at shoppers who want SUV ride height and sports-car performance for serious luxury-car money. If that's what you want, we recommend a well-equipped GLE450, which offers excellent performance without going overboard like the crazy-fast AMG GLE63 S.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe: New Car Review - Autotrader