The core versions of the GLE look expensive next to key rivals, particularly the base 250 d; it delivers roughly the same emissions as BMW’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder X5 xDrive30d, so isn’t as efficient as you’d expect, and the BMW is also usefully faster and more refined yet costs the same to buy.
Still, the 250 remains the best value model in the range, and the GLE goes some way to making up for a fairly high price with generous equipment. Even entry-level Sport trim (available on only the 250) gets 19in alloy wheels, sat-nav, Bluetooth, USB and a DVD player, as well as man-made leather upholstery, climate control, heated front seats, and auto lights and wipers. AMG Line cars add 20in alloys and sportier styling touches inside and out.
The top-end petrol models actually compete more closely with their rivals on price, again – particularly when you consider the generous equipment. As with any high-powered petrol SUV, they’ll be very expensive to run, and that includes the hybrid GLE 500 e, which is unlikely to return very good economy in the real world. The Mercedes M-Class – which is the older version of the GLE that used many of the same mechanical parts and engines – performed poorly in the most recent rounds of our reliability tests, finishing in the lower half of the table in both cases. At least there’s a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and breakdown cover with every new GLE to protect you from the worst of it.
All GLE models get seven airbags including a knee airbag, traffic sign recognition, and a generous suite of electronic driver aids including systems to warn you of an impending collision, if you might be getting tired, to automatically counteract crosswinds, and to keep the car from slipping during cornering. Blind spot warning, lane assist and full automatic emergency braking systems are optional extras.