2020 Mercedes GLE-Class – What’s Really Changed? Full Review

First, let’s look at the body design.

If you look at the front, you immediately notice that the new generation of GLE-Class has taken an identity of the current GLS-Class! The front grill, the hood lines and the overall feel – all points to the current GLS.  Which personally, I think is a big plus, because right away you can see the Mercedes-Benz SUV unmistakably! When I saw the previous spy shots… I was afraid that Mercedes designers will radically transform the look of this mid-size Utility vehicle, but thankfully it actually looks more like a family now.

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If you look from the side, you will not notice much changes from the previous 2019 GLE-Class, however the new 2020 unit is a little longer and has much more of the interior space. The wheelbase of 117.9″ inches of the new model has been increased by 3.15″ inches (80mm) compare to previous model. That’s huge! Also there is noticeable increase in legroom and headroom in the 2nd and 3rd rows. When I say: “previous 2019 model”, I mean 2018 – since 2019 model hasn’t even been released yet! 2019 models will have a very short run and you can watch our 2019 GLE-Class Review here.

Headlights are completely redesigned and have this new kind of aggressive stare, similar to the new CLS and GT 4-Door Sedan models. If you look from the rear and compare to the current GLE, you can see that 2020 model is much lighter, simpler and I would say it looks a little sportier.

However if you get the new GLE with the AMG Sport Styling, this car will look drastically different. The front Diamond block grille combined with much more aggressive bumpers, large wheels and the AMG-style lower body work, definitely gives you a different feel altogether. AMG sport styling is more unique, limited and looks a lot sportier. It’s just looks like something else!

By the way, GLE has been known to offer one of the best aerodynamics characteristics, and the new figures are even more outstanding: the new model improved the Coefficient of Drag to the lowest in its class down to 0.29 from the previous of 0.31.

Now, let’s take a look at the interior design.

The interior of 2020 GLE has really major improvements! Just the interior alone, will probably make a lot of you want to replace your current model for this new one. The new multifunction steering wheel gives you the easy controls and finger tips touch-sensors. The new MBUX multimedia system is not even called multimedia anymore! MBUX stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience – and what an experience it is!

High resolution wide screen is housing 2 colossal 12.3″ inches wide screens side by side, featuring the artsy graphics. Optional MBUX Assistant can actually anticipate your intentions and behaviors. For example it can turn on and off buttons, before you even physically reach them. It has an Artificial Intelligence (AI) on it’s own – That’s how insane this system is!

MBUX should become a serious competitor to Google’s Android Auto and Apple Carplay. And as far as I understand, this User Experience (UX) is a lot more technologically advanced. Have you ever had a dream to own an intelligent robot? Here is your chance to own one! The intelligent Voice Control comes with the Natural Language Understanding! The Voice is overly polite, does not scream, doesn’t swear (which is a big plus!) and can sing like a bird… well, I’m not sure about the singing part…

As you normally engage Apple Carplay by saying: “Hey Siri” or Android Auto by saying: “Ok Google”, you’ll engage MBUX system by simply saying: “Hey Mercedes.” The scope of the MBUX multimedia system is so large, that I will be making the completely separate tutorial just about MBUX alone. Consider subscribing to my MBZ Master channel to stay updated here.

The additional space inside the new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE added just enough space to squeeze the 3rd row seat, which was something a lot of you were asking for a long time. It’s not as comfy as GLS-Class 3rd row, but it will serve its purpose if the need arises. Especially it’s great for kids, – just make sure not to put your wife… or your girlfriend… or especially both of them over there, because it’s not going to end very well!

The 3rd row is optional and can be ordered with full electrical fold – similar to the current GLS-Class. The 2nd row seat can be ordered with the full 6-way electrical adjustments, and as far as I know it is the only SUV with that feature – in the entire market. On top of it, the second row can be equipped with an EASY-ENTRY option like in GLS-Class, which makes the entry to the 3rd row seat a breeze.

Ok, let’s discuss a little about powertrain.

2020 GLE 350 RWD and GLE350 4Matic – 4WD will actually feature the brand new 4 cylinder engine! What?? That sounds a little bit small for this kind of a car. Right? But many of you said the same thing when 2017 E300 came out, only come to realization that this new 4 cylinder isn’t that bad. You can watch my comparison video of 2016 E350 vs. 2017 E300 here.

The new GLE’s 4 cylinder engine actually has 14 more horsepower than E300 and outputs 255 Horses. However I think this engine is the same or extremely similar as in E300, maybe just a notch modified, because it produces the same Torque as E300’s inline 4 – the total of 273 lb per ft of torque. It’s hard to say if that power is sufficient for this kind of an SUV before this car is publicly released and I can physically test drive it, which I’m planning to review in the future.

However I can confidently say that the new 2020 GLE450 model is getting an excellent engine, and I don’t need any test drive to prove it! After about 20 or some years, Mercedes-Benz is going back with straight 6 cylinder engines – and I love it! Don’t mistake V6 with Inline 6. I think it’s the same engine as right now being installed on 2019 CLS 450 Coupe.

Preliminary, it should have exactly the same specifications. Inline 6 cylinder engine with EQ boost outputs healthy 362 Horsepower and 369 lb per ft. of Torque. Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) manages EQ Boost and energy recuperation using the new 48 Volt system, and it also eliminates the need for a drive belt- making the car less complex and more reliable.

Now if you ask me what I like about straight I6 vs V6, let’s do a little comparison. While V6 engine is more compact and stiffer, at the same time I6 is a lot simpler in design with no cylinder offset. Also straight 6 engine is well-balanced offering steady revving. Inline 6 needs a lot less movable parts, for example only 2 camshafts instead of 4. Personally I like inline 6 engine for its simplicity and easy access, because anything that is simple and easier to fix usually tend to last longer.

Another huge improvement of 2020 Mercedes GLE-Class is the new 9 Speed Automatic Transmission – 9G Tronic, which is replacing the previous 7G-Tronic Transmission. That should improve the fuel efficiency and overall ride comfort. Optional Fully-Variable 4MATIC 4 Wheel Drive system is available for the first time ever on the GLE. This 4 Wheel Drive controls the torque distribution between the front and rear axle anywhere from 0 to 100% depending on the selected driving mode.

When driving, and especially when cornering, the 2 fully networked transfer cases improve the handling, safety and greatly reduce the steering oversteer or understeer. I don’t want to get too technical here, so let’s just say this new GLE will offer you a better handling and performance than the previous one.

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL – What is it?

Here is another major feature that has never been available on GLE-Class before. Basically it’s a hydro-pneumatic suspension, which is fully automated, actively preventing the body-roll! Meaning you don’t have to get involved, unless you want to, the suspension is smart enough to control the body level during driving, high-speed cornering, driving on uneven pavement or if you’re just trying to prove how bad of a driver you are – then you can see if this suspension can actually rescue you!

According to Daimler engineers:

“This is the only system in the market where the spring and damping forces can be individually controlled at each wheel. “

E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL is optional and also provides a Free-Driving Mode, which is now combined with the revamped AIRMATIC air suspension. Then add the Road Surface Scan and the Curve Inclination feature and you will notice a big difference in the comfort of driving comparing to the model without the E-Active Body Control.

Free-Driving Mode is a brand new off-road feature. If your 2020 GLE got stuck in a sand, dirt or snow for example, this feature can help to free the vehicle. Believe it or not, this new Mercedes model can actually jump a little a few times, which changes the ground pressure of the tires and then improves traction – the GLE then rocks itself free. Watch above video if want to see how that works!

This new E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL also comes with the Curve Inclination feature. It allows GLE to lean into the road curves like a motorcycle! This Curve Inclination leans into bends in three stages with almost no centrifugal force. If the GLE-Class is equipped with a Stereo Camera, then Road Surface Scan will constantly scan the road surfaces ahead of you, and similarly to S-Class, will prepare the suspension of GLE for the uneven road ahead – to respond proactively, by -for example stiffening each wheel independently.

Furthermore it gets even more crazy, you can actually individually adjust the level at each wheel via the touch screen of the multimedia system!  That’s very convenient especially if you are off-roading and dealing with the ditches and all kinds of the uneven pavement surprises.

E-Active Body Control has this newly advanced Mercedes 48 Volt operating system and you can also add an optional Adaptive Damping System Plus – ADS+. To wrap up the suspension part, I can assure you that it’s way more advanced than, not only comparing to the previous generation of GLE-Class, but also all other 99% of cars in the entire World!

Another new and cool feature is Active Stop and Go Assist.

The word “Active means “”Autonomous”, but it’s not 100% guaranteed to work, so you better watch out and always make sure you’re in control of the car. Don’t make your car go wild on you! The car can keep the distance from the car in front of you even when you’re stuck in traffic. As name of the feature Active Stop and Go Assist refers: It can fully stop and then go, mimicking the behavior of the car in front of you upto approximate speed of 37 mph. And once the traffic dissipates, you car will be driving at your preset speed, and if you didn’t preset the speed, then it will be the maximum allowed speed.

Some other of the new 2020 Mercedes GLE changes to mention are:

The new Energizing Comfort feature, which is similar to the most other newest Mercedes-Benz models, and also an ability to Turn Off the Active Braking Assist feature, which I wouldn’t recommend – unless there is some kind of malfunction in your car.

We will discuss more about this model in our upcoming releases, but meanwhile checkout our Enhanced Voice Control release.

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