2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic Test Drive: Easy Livin’

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The suggested retail price of $84,390 for a handsomely equipped 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic may cause some eyes to roll, or launch an argument solely about the car’s options, and finally become the subject of depreciation jokes. That all goes out the window, though, when a plush and ventilated seat massages you; or when the MBUX voice assistant—”Hey, Mercedes”—responds to a general question with a snarky answer; and when Curve mode gracefully anticipates a road’s upcoming turns. Impressively, these examples only scratch the surface of an SUV that seems to care more about the safety of its passengers than do most ride-share drivers.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic: MBUX Infotainment System

Easily the best touchscreen display in the industry, the dual 12.3-inch display, which seamlessly merges the instrument cluster with the infotainment system, can at first be complex and overwhelming to grasp. Unwittingly, my attention diverted often to the floating screen due to an eagerness to learn every menu as quickly as possible, but the center-console trackpad and steering-wheel touch controls helped minimize the tendency to reach out and use the touchscreen.

After using the MBUX infotainment system for about three days, I had a solid handle on flipping through the different menus to adjust settings effortlessly. The more I dug, the more cool stuff I found, such as the driving-style themes, energizing comfort, massage tips, seat kinetics, and web browser. I learned quickly that putting the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic in the park position, and exercising patience, are essential to becoming savvy with the MBUX system.

Arguably, MBUX’s most appealing user trait is the accuracy and responsiveness of all three menu-navigation controls (steering-wheel touch buttons, trackpad, and touchscreen). The “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant turned into a form of entertainment, and one of my favorite responses went something along the lines of, “I can’t complain even though I still do.” My primary uses of the voice assistant included finding a restaurant for curbside pickup, getting an update about weather conditions, and to ask “Mercedes” how she was doing. One small annoyance was a bit of difficulty when using the trackpad to skip song tracks; maybe I need more practice, or maybe it’s an inherent flaw, but it’s something to be aware of.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic: Luxury and Comfort

For a more upscale look and peaceful ride, three interior upgrades include the Acoustic Comfort Package ($1,100), Black Nappa leather upholstery ($2,990), and Premium Package ($1,000). The Premium Package adds colored ambient lighting throughout the cabin, including the door panels and center-console grab handles; this lighting system is one of the best in the business. “Colormix” was my default setting, simply because I could not decide on a single color, and it also made things inside more interesting. Everything from the leather surfaces to the aluminum and natural-wood trim screams “high quality” and feels fantastic to the touch.

The assortment of comfort and convenience options for this mid-size luxury SUV is astounding. On a cross-country road-trip test, the available amenities would make long stretches of miles more enjoyable and less dreary. As for the third-row seat, it’s claustrophobic and not very comfortable; I imagine some kids who have been back there feel the same way. In the final tally, our 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE test vehicle had $22,245 worth of optional equipment, which can be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s not unusual to find that level of extra equipment fitted to Mercedes’ test vehicles.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic: Performance and Handling

My two preferred driving modes were Sport and Curve, and every so often, I also toggled Comfort mode on harsher patches of freeways where Sport was a tad bit aggressive. The Airmatic suspension, a $1,700 option that includes the Adaptive Damping System Plus, provides a firm yet polished ride quality that makes road blemishes go virtually undetected. A turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six with a 48-volt system (aka EQ Boost which powers auxiliary functions), nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel-drive are standard.

The transmission changes gears swiftly, and the engine is smooth to the point that you barely feel it tremble—even when pushing the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic from standstill to, say, 75 mph. In the Experience theme setting, a feature that adjusts the ambient lighting, drive mode, and infotainment displays, it’s amusing to see the horsepower and torque displayed in real-time. The sportier steering wheel from the AMG Line interior feels good to hold, and the actual steering is rather quick and direct. The brakes grab hold firmly, but not so much that you are tossed around in your seat by unwelcomely sudden and abrupt stops.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic, filled with luxury and comfort as it is, offers a pleasant driving experience whether you run errands, head out on a night drive, or haul kids across town to a pool party. In the end, our test car lived up just fine to that initially surprising $84,390 price tag.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4Matic Quick Facts

  • Fully customizable instrument cluster
  • Front driver/passenger seat lumbar adjustable via the infotainment system
  • Available third-row seat costs $2,100
  • E-Active Body Control Package is the most expensive option, at $8,200
  • AMG body-trim available with AMG Line Exterior w/Night Package

2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $61,150/$84,390 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve I-6/362 hp @ 5,500-6,100 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,000 rpm plus electric starter/generator motor/21 hp
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 19/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 194.0 x 76.7 x 70.7 in
WHEELBASE 117.9 in
WEIGHT 4,991 lb
0-60 MPH 5.5 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 130 mph



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