The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
The driver gets electric adjustment for backrest angle and seat height, as well as adjustable lumbar support to help ward off lower back pain on longer journeys. Moving the seat back and forth is the only adjustment you'll need to perform manually. True, the standard seats aren’t quite as supportive through corners as the ones you get in an Audi Q7, but SUV fans will enjoy how far they sit from the road.
Add the optional AMG Line Premium package and, among other things, you get a seat position memory feature and an electrically adjustable steering wheel, both of which are features that come as standard on the AMG 53. It’s also worth mentioning that extra side bolstering makes the 53’s seats more supportive in corners than those of other models.
As standard, the GLE also gets a 12.3in digital instrument cluster. It has crystal clear graphics and can display a vast array of driving information, but it’s a little trickier to customise than Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system, and the touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel can be a bit fiddly to use. On the other hand, the relatively few buttons on the dashboard are simple to use and within easy reach of the driving seat, as is the central control touchpad, which we’ll discuss in the infotainment section.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The GLE’s lofty seating position helps give you a good view of the road ahead, and, while the windscreen pillars can partially obscure your view at junctions, they don't present a serious issue.
Because of the GLE’s slightly angular and narrow rear end, the view out of the back isn’t as clear as it is in some SUVs. However, a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors are standard, and a 360deg bird's eye view camera is available as part of the AMG Line Premium package.
As a bonus, every GLE comes with powerful LED headlights as standard.
Sat nav and infotainment
Every GLE comes with Mercedes’ latest infotainment system, which features two 12.3in displays joined together to look like one widescreen that stretches across more than half of the dashboard. It has plenty of features, including a DAB radio, Bluetooth and sat nav, plus a Siri-style ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice command function that can recognise natural speech more effectively than the systems of many rivals.
You can control the system by swiping and pressing on a touchpad between the front seats, by using another tiny touch pad on the steering wheel or by simply pressing the screen. When you’re driving, the touchpad methods are the easiest to use; you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to continually study the display, thanks to how the main pad provides haptic feedback to help you navigate through the menus. That said, the rotary controller of the BMW X5’s iDrive infotainment system is even more intuitive.
Most of the GLE’s interior materials look and feel suitably expensive, and there’s plenty of soft-touch plastic on the dashboard. But, give the GLE’s dashboard a bit of a poke and a prod – particularly around the climate control panel – and it doesn't give quite the impression of solidity as you’ll find in its Audi and BMW rivals. Still, it’s certainly not a million miles away, and the difference isn’t something that would bother you on a daily basis.
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