Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
No one will feel cramped in the front of a GLE; it’s a fairly wide car so there’s no chance you’ll be clashing elbows with the person sitting next to you. Even if you add the optional panoramic glass roof (part of the AMG Line Premium Plus package) there's plenty of head room.
In addition, there are lots of useful cubbyholes dotted about the place, along with good-sized door pockets.
The second row of seats is surprisingly roomy – there's more leg room than you’ll find in a Land Rover Discovery or an Audi Q7, for example, so tall adults can really stretch out and relax. There are just two Isofix mounts in the GLE, though; rivals, including the Q7, have up to six.
Seven seats are standard in the GLE 400d and above, they’re optional in the 300d and 350d, which have five seats as standard. Meanwhile, the plug-in hybrid 350de doesn't offer a seven-seat option, due to packaging limitations imposed by the electrical system.
Unfortunately, space in the third row isn't very generous. Taller adults will feel very cramped, much more so than they would in an Audi Q7 (let alone a Discovery or BMW X7), and access isn't great, either.
Seat folding and flexibility
Split-folding second-row seats, with a 40/20/40 configuration, are standard on the GLE, regardless of whether you choose a five or a seven-seat version. However, while the third-row seats in some rivals, including the Q7, can be raised and lowered electrically, this job requires bicep power in the GLE.
Another handy feature on all seven-seat models is electric adjustment for the middle row. The seats can be moved forwards and backwards, and the backrest angle can also be adjusted – a nice luxury for back-seat passengers.
The front passenger seat is electrically adjustable across the range, and the optional AMG Line Premium trim package adds a seat position memory feature.
In five-seat versions (or with the rearmost seats folded away in seven-seat versions) boot space is reasonable rather than exceptional. There's certainly more space than in a BMW X5, but in our tests the GLE could swallow only eight carry-on suitcases below its parcel shelf. The Land Rover Discovery managed nine cases, while the Audi Q7 took 10.
The loadbay is usefully square in shape, though, with little wheel arch encroachment. Plus, even with the third-row seats in use, you can still squeeze a useful amount of luggage in there. For trips to the tip, or when carrying offspring and their essentials to start a new semester at uni, you can of course fold down all but the front two seats; doing so lends the GLE the carrying capacity of a small van.
Those after maximum load-lugging capacity would do well to note that the plug-in hybrid 350de’s boot shrinks from 630 litres to 490; that comes down to it having a higher boot floor to accommodate the battery pack. The load area itself is still conveniently shaped, however.
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