What's the used Mercedes GLE estate like?
Don't panic if you're a used car buyer looking at a pre-owned Mercedes-Benz GLE and you see it rocking about in an erratic manner. It isn't a malfunction, rather a neat party trick; air-suspension equipped models can rock in order to work themselves free in deep sand or snow. It's a neat attribute of the GLE, as is the fact that you can buy this hefty luxury SUV for an agreeable amount less than even its best discounted price when new.
Diesel power makes up the majority of GLE engine options, starting with the 242bhp 2.0-litre 300d, and followed by two 3.0-litre engines of 272bhp 350d and 325bhp 400d power outputs. The only non-AMG, high-performance petrol model is the 362bhp 450. If money is no issue, there are two hotter GLEs; the 429bhp GLE 53 and 603bhp GLE 63s.
There are four different trim levels, starting with the AMG Line. This has 20in alloy wheels, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assistance, and blind spot monitoring. AMG Line Executive adds bigger 21in wheels and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity for the standard 12.3in screen.
You'll need to spring for AMG Line Premium if you want memory settings for the electric seats and a 360deg camera system. Finally, AMG Line Premium Plus has adaptive cruise control, a panoramic glass roof, upgraded Burmester stereo, plus an interior fragrance system called Airbalance. More on that later.
All engines (including the entry-level diesel) provide highly respectable performance and any din made during acceleration retreats into the background hum of road noise once at a cruise, although you will notice a little more wind noise at motorway speeds than in an Audi Q7. However, the GLE's standard nine-speed auto is less hesitant to respond than the Audi's, giving you greater confidence when joining a busy roundabout or overtaking.
Where the GLE can't beat the Q7 is in terms of the driving experience it offers. The steering is perfectly light for easy low-speed manoeuvres, but is pretty numb and doesn't feel as precise as a BMW X5's. The suspension - particularly on air suspension (Airmatic in Mercedes parlance) – is set up to be comfortable rather than sporty and this translates into the GLE leaning over more in corners than Q7 would.
Inside you'll find the GLE is a bit of a tech-fest, with two large digital screens spread across the glitzy looking dashboard. The infotainment system can be controlled in a number of different ways, and while we still think that iDrive from BMW is easier to use, the voice recognition software in the GLE is far better than similar systems we've tried in rival cars.
Even the broadest of rugby players would have plenty of room in the front of a GLE, and the rear is far more accommodating than most other luxury SUVs – including the Land Rover Discovery. Unlike the X5, the GLE is available with seven seats, but the rearmost are best used for short trips only; space for knees is restricted to ensure a useable boot with all seven seats in use. With them down, cargo capacity is respectable rather than remarkable; we found that both a Q7 and Discovery can carry more luggage.
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