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2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe: New Car Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe is a premium 4-door "coupe" crossover. We’re now past the stage of incredulity that a company would take a vehicle that has practicality as a reason for its existence and make it less practical. Instead, let’s accept the GLE-Class Coupe as another facet in the grand kaleidoscope of automotive choice.

Just as the BMW X6 is based on the regular X5, this model is derived from the regular GLE. To create a greater distinction, Mercedes-Benz calls that version the GLE SUV, which is reviewed separately.

Taken on its own merits, this is a stylish machine with a high-class driving experience and an elevated driving position. Both variants are also exclusively in the rarefied air of the AMG level, with equipment and credentials that are sportier than those of the regular GLE SUV. As long as buyers don’t mind giving up some usefulness in the (speedy) pursuit of design, this is a great contender.

What’s New for 2018?

The GLE 43 gets a little boost in power, from 362 horsepower to 385 (torque remains the same). This model is also eligible for a new Performance Studio package, which has nothing to do with performance but everything to do with cosmetics, while the GLE 63 offers a couple of new wood trims. See the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class models for sale near you

What We Like

Excellent driving experience; good looks; great AMG engines

What We Don’t

Not especially practical

How Much?

$71,495-$112,855

Fuel Economy

The GLE 43 has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission are standard. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 17 miles per gallon in the city, 22 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in combined driving.

The twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V8 in the GLE 63 S generates a mighty 577 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. Again, all-wheel drive is standard, but this model has a 7-speed automatic transmission. Consumption is EPA-rated at 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe comes as two differently equipped versions according to the drivetrain.

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 ($71,495) has an adaptive air suspension, 21-inch alloy wheels, a sport exhaust, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, drive-mode selection, LED lighting with adaptive headlights, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, heated/power-adjustable front sport seats with driver’s-side memory settings, synthetic leather upholstery (much better than it sounds), a Nappa leather-wrapped/power-adjustable steering wheel, a power lift gate, roof rails, self-dimming rearview and driver’s-side mirrors, an 8-in center screen with Mercedes-Benz’s proprietary Comand infotainment system, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, HD Radio, a USB port, crosswind assist and a driver-drowsiness monitor.

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S ($112,855) adds 22-in alloy wheels, bigger brakes, active anti-roll bars, a carbon-fiber engine cover, leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors, plus aluminum shift paddles and pedals.

The Premium 3 options package has advanced safety equipment, including adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, active brake assistance with a cross-traffic function, active blind spot monitoring and assistance, steering pilot, a 360-degree camera system and a self-parking feature (this last item is standard in the GLE 63 S)

Other options include tri-zone automatic climate control, soft-closing doors, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rear-seat entertainment system, a Bang & Olufsen Beosound 14-speaker audio system and massaging front seats.

Cargo space with the rear seats in place is 23 cu ft. When they’re folded down, that expands to 60.7 cu ft. If anyone was wondering, the regular GLE SUV enjoys 38.2/80.3 cu ft. The Coupe also has a fairly high lip over which users must lift their luggage or shopping.

Safety

The GLE comes standard with antilock brakes, a forward-collision warning system, side curtain airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, traction and stability control, crosswind assist and driver-drowsiness monitoring. Options include a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control with automatic braking, blind spot monitoring and lane-keep assistance.

The GLE-Class Coupe has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested the GLE SUV and given it a Top Safety Pick+ rating.

Behind the Wheel

There’s no getting away from the fact that this vehicle is big and heavy, but the AMG engineers have done their best (which is as good as "best" gets) to impart some real speed and agility. Both models have selectable driving modes that can firm up the air suspension, wake up the steering and bring some more urgency to the throttle response. It’s easy to scroll between these modes, especially rocking between Comfort and Sport to suit the road and traffic conditions.

The high-performance GLE 63 AMG S is a real competitor at the sportiest level, with the highest top speed of the GLE range: 174 mph. This 5,225-lb beast can also sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds. But it costs more than its closest rival, the BMW X6 M.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 BMW X6/X6 M — Superb to drive and with its own charm in the looks department. The M version is astonishingly good.

2018 Porsche Cayenne S — Not a sloping roof in sight, but super-classy and with wonderful dynamics. Closer to the GLE 43 than the 63 S, with 420 hp and a price in the $78,000 region.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class SUV — Just in case someone loves the GLE but wants more space for rear passengers and cargo, the conventional SUV version is perfect.

Used Porsche Cayenne Turbo S — Buy one of these new and it will cost more than $160,000, making the GLE 63 S look almost like a bargain with its seven extra horses. But select a certified pre-owned (CPO) example and you’ll have an extreme SUV and still be able to take a vacation.

Autotrader’s Advice

There are some people who always want the best version available, in which case they go for the GLE 63 S and feel forever frustrated that all that power can never be fully exercised on public roads without incurring the wrath of the highway patrol. The GLE 43 is a smarter move. It’s quick enough for most tastes and leaves money on the table to opt for the extra safety equipment, and maybe a few more extras such as the superb Bang & Olufsen audio system.

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