Its power is impressive; its convenience is less so. There were some complaints back in 2015 when Mercedes-Benz changed its naming structures for its SUVs from GLK, ML and GL to GLC, GLE and GLS, but really it just made their locations in the lineup easier to pick out. Like the C-Class, the GLC is the small SUV. The GLE is medium like the E-Class and on from there. At the same time it introduced the new names, it also introduced this GLE Coupe to do battle with the BMW X6s of the world. This fourth generation (first MLs, then GLE) began in 2019 and there’s both a lot to love and lot to hate about the latest model.
Hate: The Shape
Styling is a personal preference, but for us, this coupe-shape makes no sense on an SUV. We know Mercedes was just following its German rival into the segment, but viewed from a three-quarter angle, the GLE just reminds us of an egg, or a jellybean. And despite those shapes being suited perfectly for cheating the wind, they just don’t look that great curbside. We do appreciate the new Panamericana grille on the GLE, it’s certainly better than the original nose it put on. But the back looks both too plain and too fat to our eyes. From certain distances, it really looks like a poorly proportioned sedan drawn by a child. The wheel arches are also squared off, making the gap between the fender and the tire look strange.
Love: The Tech
Mercedes’ new MBUX system is probably the top of the food chain in infotainment. Though it uses a touchpad, which is our least favorite way to control a system, it added touchscreen capability in addition to the voice and steering wheel controls. The twin 12.3-inch screens are bright and colorful, and the action is quick with no delays after poking or swiping. The menus are broken up into the usual categories: media, navigation, settings, comfort, etc., and after a few minutes it was easy to find what we needed, when we needed it. Helping that are the redundant mode buttons to get to your main screens. The AMGs have a selection of racing functions too with lap timers and g-meters and the like. Those are fun to have on the screen even when you’re not on track.