2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e Plug-in Hybrid

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in Midsize SUVs
2018 MODEL

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Detailed Review

Creating a hybrid SUV with performance and fuel-efficiency may have been Mercedes’ main goal, but they got too carried away with trying to find the leprechaun over the rainbow. Alas, when he did get found, they were greeted by little to nothing in consolation. Mercedes-Benz created a great hybrid SUV, if not an exceptional performer at the very least. But, performance is not everything.

Seated under the hood propelling all the wheels is a 3.0L V6 with an 113hp electric motor, mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. As a GLE model, it comes with a range of premium and opulent features, with its interior encompassing a wide and spacious room which can seat 5 passengers.


With the GLE 550e, Mercedes has put itself in a very stiff competition where it sees more getting bashed from its rivals. To compete with the Silver Arrow comes its German rival, the BMW X5 X-Drive 40e, and Sweden’s Volvo XC90 T8. Interesting competition? You bet.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Features

Being the only hybrid model in the GLE-class segment, the 550e starts at $66,700. It offers features of the highest Premium 1 package, available to its younger brother, the GLE 350 while powering its powertrain with an electric motor with a fuel-injected engine. The luxury model is kitted with opulent and top-notch materials, like the rich and quality-textured leather stitches running throughout the cabin, and great performance under its hood.

Trim

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e Plug-in Hybrid

MSRP

$66,700

Key

Features

  • 19-inch twin 5-spoke alloy wheels
  • Nappa leather multifunction steering wheel
  • Power liftgate
  • 8-inch high-resolution color screen Harman-Kardon LOGIC7 sound system
  • Trailer Stability Assist
  • Power tilt/telescoping steering column

If you’d rather drive with sheer performance under your control, you’d have to look up north at the AMG models. These power drives start at $67,750 for the performance-enhanced GLE 43, whereas the proper performance-division crafted SUV’s start at $102,550 for the GLE 63, and $109,700 for the flagship GLE 63 S.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Engine

"The GLE550e plug-in hybrid comes at a higher cost but grants a have-cake-and-eat-it-too mentality. With a total of 436 horsepower, this hybrid-luxury SUV can zoom from 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds -- a few ticks faster than the AMG GLE43 performance variant."-KelleyBlueBook

Engine and Transmission

Delivering power to all the wheels, the powertrain is configured with a 3.0L V6 twin turbocharged engine coupled to a 7-speed transmission. Rated at 329 hp and 354 lb.-ft of torque, the power doesn’t just end yet, as it is further rocketed by an 85 kW electric motor, boasting a solid 436 horses and 479 lb.-ft of torque.

Models

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

MSRP

$66,700

$63,500

$64,950

Engine

3.0L Twin-Turbocharged V6 + 85 kW electric motor

2.0L Turbocharged Inline-4

2.0L Turbocharged Supercharged Inline-4

Electric Motor

113 hp AC Induction

111 hp AC Synchronous Motor

87 hp Electric Motor

Transmission

7G-TRONIC 7-speed Automatic

8-Speed Automatic

8-Speed Automatic

Horsepower

436 hp

308 hp

400 hp

Torque

479 lb-ft

332 ft-lbs

472 ft-lbs

The SUV zips down the tarmac with elegance, exhibiting that beasty demeanor that Mercedes is known for. In its own terms, the hybrid SUV propels the wheels smoothly but it hides remarkable performance under its hood and can deliver it, but for that, you’d have to tune in to Sports mode. 

Driving on different modes unleashes the GLE 550e’s true capability of a hybrid SUV; selecting the Sport mode utilizes all that torque. Other modes exist to conserve the battery, charge it via gasoline power, or drive on standalone electric power.

Acceleration

Galloping the SUV this size from 0-60 mph in 5.2s is by no means a shabby performance for a plug-in hybrid SUV. Taking that into consideration, the quarter mile does seem to be rather disappointing, with a time of 16.6s. In the 0-60 mph speed test, the BMW X5 manages to keep up, even with a lesser powered powertrain.

Models

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

0-60 MPH

5.2 sec

5.8 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter mile

16.6 sec

14.6 sec

15.5 sec

Engine

3.0L

2.0L

2.0L

Ride and Handling

SUV’s are expected to be unflustered by bumps and unevenness on the tarmac. Enter GLE 550e – which comes without standard Air suspension (which unfortunately is an optional package), still, it manages to ride nimbly and provide generous cabin comfort. Having said that, the heavy duty is meant to be driven on flat and gentle roads.

Each driving mode makes a difference to its ride traction and handling, along with performance and subsequent exhaust sounds, where the SUV stiffens its legs as you crank along the available modes – Comfort, Slippery, Sport and Sport +. Driving on Comfort mode should be your go-to selection for it has a relaxed demeanor, allowing a decent, cushioned roll over the tarmac.

As an SUV, the GLE550e feels less confident when driving on twisty roads, proving more useful when cruising or maneuvering a lesser twisty path.

Braking

Stopping a 5456 pounds SUV from 60-0 in 130ft is worse than average. The results from panic brake test seem uninspiring, the brake pedals feel mushy at first. As a Plug-in Hybrid, the SUV has a regenerative energy braking kicks in, which converts the energy when the car is decelerated into charging the electric motor. 

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

Brake Front (in.)

13.0

13.7

13.2

Brake Rear (in.)

12.8

12.6

12.1

Curb Weight (lbs.)

5456

5220

5105

60-0 MPH (ft.)

130 ft

113 ft

113 ft

Stronger rivals see the Mercedes slip down as the worst in this segment; although being light, both, the BMW X5 40e and the Volvo Xc90, take a laudable 113ft.

Towing Capacity

A paltry offering of 4410 pounds tow capacity, the Mercedes openly exhibits its weakness as heavy duty SUV. Its competition here clearly outshines it, with the BMW X5 taking the chequered flag at almost 6000 pounds. On the other hand, the Volvo XC90 is relatively average for its size, towing 5000 pounds.

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

Towing Capacity (lbs.)

4410

5952

5000

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Fuel Economy

Designed to deliver performance and fuel efficiency, it is safe to say the GLE 550e delivers on both fronts. Albeit managing only meager 12 miles of electric driving, it provides a combined 21 mpg on pure gas, which is a commendable feat. Driving on the Hybrid mode, the mix of electric and gasoline returns an impressive combined mpg of 43.

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

MPG (city)

NA

NA

NA

MPG (highway)

NA

NA

NA

MPG (combined)

43

56

62

While the Mercedes may impress with its performance and hybrid nature, the economy returned by its competitors say a lot about where Mercedes need to improve upon; lagging behind the BMW X5 and the Volvo XC90, the Silver Arrow once again fails to compete aggressively with the competition.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Interior

“The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE has an extremely well-built interior. The cabin looks stylish, and every surface features high-quality materials like leather, wood, or carbon fiber. Both rows of seats are comfortable and roomy enough to accommodate adults. Cargo space is above average for the class. There are plenty of standard and available tech features, and the infotainment system is fairly intuitive.” – Cars.USnews

Seating and Comfort

Seating 5, the spacious 4-doored SUV has comfortable and plush seating in the front and back. Luxurious and posh cabin paves way for a nice aesthetic surrounding, while the opulent features enrich the grandeur of the GLE 550e. Legroom and headspace are on the positive side, without having much to complain. Having said it seats 5, we feel 4 would rather feel happy in the car rather than the said capacity.

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

Passenger capacity

5

5

5

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

108.6

40.5/61.5/40.4

38.9/57.7/40.9

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (In.)

40.4/58.5/40.3

38.8/60/36.6

38.5/56.5/37

Third (Head/Shoulder/Leg)(In.)

38.5/58.4/38.4

NA

35.5/54.1/30.1

Interior Features

The grand and roomy cabin offers many features like:

  • Power Front Seats w/Driver Memory
  • Heated Front Bucket Seats
  • Cruise Control
  • Chrome/Aluminum Interior Accents and Mb-Tex Leatherette Upholstered Dashboard
  • Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
  • Leather Steering Wheel w/Auto Tilt-Away
  • 60-40 Folding Split-Bench Front Facing Manual Reclining Flip Forward Cushion/Seatback Rear Seat

Infotainment System

Mercedes calls it the COMAND Infotainment, which is a center-mounted, 8-inch display, controlled by a rotary knob and a touch-sensitive pad seated beside it. The system is not a touch screen, nor is it gesture-controlled.

While the system is intuitive and offers a myriad of features, its usage has quite a learning curve to master. Ignoring the clunky controls, or rather, once you get used to it, the COMAND infotainment system serves you well.

The features offered by the infotainment system are:

  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • COMAND Navigation with up to 3 years of update
  • 5 years of SiriusXM traffic and weather service
  • Voice Control
  • SiriusXM Radio with 6-month All Access trial

Cargo Volume

An SUV with a generous cargo volume is a huge brownie point. What size brownie would the GLE 550e provide? A medium-sized, for its above average boot space of 38.2 cube feet available when the rear seats are down is, well above average. Having said that, the 80.3 cube feet space available with the seats up is a generous volume for its size.

The Beemer loses to rest of the field by a mere 4 cube feet, while the Volvo crosses the line first with a fine availability of boot space when the seats are up or down.

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

Cargo Volume with rear seats up (ft.3)

80.3

76.7

85.7

Cargo Volume with rear seats down (ft.3)

38.2

35.8

41.8

 

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Exterior

Handsome in wagon or fastback bodies, the 2018 Mercedes GLE wears an urbane SUV look.” – TheCarConnection

Dimensions and Weight

It’s heavy, long, and tall, with a short wheelbase and ground clearance. The GLE 550e is boxy, and a sturdy built SUV, with a conventional design. There is nothing appealing to it; rather the big Silver Arrow insignia and the distinct Mercedes design is what differentiates it from its rivals. In comparison with its rivals, both the contenders measure lighter, longer, narrower and shorter, but with a better ground clearance.

Model

Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e

Volvo XC90 T8

Curb weight (lbs.)

5456

5220

5105

Length(in)

189.1

192.4

194.9

Width(in)

84.3

76.3

79.1

Height(in)

70.7

69.4

69.9

Ground clearance (in)

6.7

8.3

9.3

Wheelbase (in)

114.8

115.5

117.5

Track width (in) F/R

64.9/65.5

64.7/65

66/66.1

Exterior Features

Offered with the GLE 550e are a plethora of features, with the likes of:

  • 19-inch twin 5-spoke wheels
  • Speed Sensitive Rain Detecting Fixed Interval Wipers
  • Lip Spoiler
  • Chrome Grille
  • Power Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
  • Express Open/Close Sliding And Tilting Glass 1st Row Sunroof w/Sunshade

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Safety

Safety Features

Amongst a plethora of opulent and quality features offered, the 550e also offers a wide range of safety conveniences including –

  • Antilock Braking System (ABS)
  • Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
  • Crosswind Assist
  • Trailer Stability Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist Blind Spot Sensor
  • Back-Up Camera
  • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
  • Lane Keeping Assist Lane Departure Warning

At the time of writing this review, the GLE 550e is yet to be rated by the NHSTA and the IIHS.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Competition

BMW X5 X-Drive 40e vs Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

Literally competing head to head, the BMW X5 40e has a lot more to enact on stage than the numb, smaller-cast role of the GLE 550e. Observing both the cars’ figures, it does not really matter much for they both perform almost as good as each other, or in some instances, better by a margin.

Having said all that, the BMW carries a $3000 cheaper price tag, has a better design element as compared to the boxy, conventional tone of the Mercedes, offers way greater driving experience, and comes with the quality features and conveniences. The Mercedes just seems to have slipped here and we’d recommend the BMW.

Volvo XC90 T8 vs Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e

The Swedish manufacturer truly does give its German rival a stiff competition on many different levels. For one, the design of the XC90 T8 is a lot more contemporary, then arrives the performance and drivability, excellent safety features and conveniences, with opulent and spacious interiors to add icing to the cake. Oh, and all that for a cheaper $64,950, which you’d think isn’t by much but on further inspection, you’d wonder why you thought that in the first place.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid Final Verdict

No doubt, the GLE 550e is a wonderful car and has many positives about it. But for $66,700, you’d rather look at other competitors in the market than this 4-doored box. With that being said, if you plan on owning a hybrid SUV with the famed Silver Arrow insignia on the grille, you’d be better off spending $49,990 for the little brother, the all-rounder GLC 350e, and upgrading it with the available optional features and packages.

Pros

Impressive electric-only driving range

Generous boot space with rear seats down

Great engine performance for a hybrid SUV

Cons

Disappointing tow capacity

Controls for the infotainment system not user-friendly

What's New?

The 2018 GLE 550e carries on unchanged from its previous iteration.


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$66700

bodystyle

4dr SUV

passenger capacity

5

drivetrain

AWD

engine type

displacement

333 cu. in.

horsepower

577 hp @ 5500 rpm

torque

561 lb.-ft. @ 1750 rpm

transmission

7-speed automatic

chassis

brake rotors (f/r)

13 in. ventilated disc brakes/13.8 in. ventilated disc brakes

dimensions

wheelbase

114.8 in.

length

189.7 in.

width

78.9 in.

height

70.7 in.

curb weight

5456 lbs.

ground clearance

6.7 in.

capacity

cargo volume

38.2 cu ft.

towing capacity

4410 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

5.1 sec.

standing ¼-mile

13.7 sec.

braking (70-0 mph)

190 ft.

fuel economy

city/combined/highway

24/21/18 mpg

highway range

378 mi.

warranty

roadside assistance

No



Styles

 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid in designo Diamond White Metallic color  2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid in designo Cardinal Red Metallic color  2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid in Dakota Brown Metallic color  2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid in Brilliant Blue Metallic color  2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid in Black color
designo Diamond White Metallic

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Trims and Configurations

MSRP


 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e plug-in hybrid GLE 550e 4MATIC

GLE 550e 4MATIC

power
577 hp @ 5500 rpm
fuel
Premium unleaded (required)
mpg
21 combined

$66,700


Style Prices MPG Engine Transmission Drivetrain Seats Colors
GLE 550e 4MATIC 4dr SUV AWD (3.0L 6cyl Turbo gas/electric hybrid 7A) Starting at $66,700 MSRP (24/21/18) 577 hp @ 5500 rpm, 3 L, V8, premium unleaded (required)
See Full Specs
7-speed automatic all wheel drive 5   Black
  Brilliant Blue Metallic
  Dakota Brown Metallic
  designo Cardinal Red Metallic
  designo Diamond White Metallic

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