Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
While the GLE looks pretty expensive at first glance, it's actually priced roughly in line with its luxury SUV rivals, which include the Audi Q7 and Land Rover Discovery. Within the lineup itself there’s a bit of a price jump from 300d to 350d, and a smaller one from 350d to 400d. The performance difference between these is significant, though. If you’re considering the 350d it’s hard to ignore the appeal of the 400d’s extra power, especially as both engines emit the same amount of CO2, as well as returning similar fuel economy.
Understandably, the least powerful model, the 300d, is the most economical Mercedes GLE; it actually betters most rivals, both officially and in our real-world tests. However, despite also emitting less CO2 than many of its peers, the GLE is still in the top band for benefit in kind (BIK) tax, making it a pricey choice for company car users.
That’s where the plug-in hybrid 350 de steps in; its 19g/km CO2 emissions and official 66 miles of electric-only range make for seriously low BIK tax bills. We’ve yet to put it through our real-world economy testing, but with an official economy figure of 403.6mpg, we have high expectations.
When it comes to PCP finance, the rival Discovery and Q7 are available with cheaper monthly payments. However, if you’re looking to buy outright, it’s worth noting that the GLE is predicted to hold on to its value better than the Discovery, X5 and Volvo XC90.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry level spec is called AMG Line and is reasonably well equipped. Along with the fancy infotainment system discussed earlier, you get luxuries such as leather seats, wireless phone charging, a self-parking system, adaptive main beam assist, four-zone climate control (on seven-seat models) and cruise control.
If you want more luxuries, most of them are bundled into packs that come with hefty price tags. Consider the AMG Line Premium Package if you want a few more gadgets, but the AMG Line Premium Plus Package is too pricey to recommend.
If you plan on taking the GLE off the beaten track, there’s also an off-road package that adds underbody protection. However, you can’t add this to the 300d.
Every GLE comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, which is pretty much par for the course in this class. There's also roadside assistance for three years, so you won't be stranded at the side of the road if you break down.
Mercedes’ reliability record isn’t great; the brand finished a lowly 24th out of the 31 manufacturers that were included in the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey. However, bucking the trend of the manufacturer’s other models, the GLE finished at the top of the Luxury SUV class for reliability, ahead of the likes of the Q7, Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC90.
Safety and security
The GLE comes with an impressive list of standard safety equipment, including blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking and a pop-up bonnet that helps to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.
All of this helped it score an impressive maximum five-star safety rating from expert body Euro NCAP. If you look at its test results in detail, there were a few weaknesses noted: in the lateral impact pole test the GLE received a marginal for chest protection, while in a rear end shunt, protection from whiplash (specifically for children) could have been better. However, none of this is overtly serious – the Q7 and X5 for example, performed better in those two specific areas, but fell down in others. Ultimately, these are all safe cars.
As for security, an alarm and immobiliser are fitted to help ward off thieves.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
The RX is comfortable and well equipped, but it's not as good...
Classy, practical and refined, the XC90 is a fine seven-s...
A brilliant luxury SUV, majoring on comfort and ...
Well equipped and well priced, but not as practical or classy...