Luxury mid-size SUV
With both traditional and coupe body variants available, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class model range hit Canadian roads in 2015 for the 2016 model year to enhance and expand the Mercedes crossover model range. Standard GLE models were traditional crossover SUVs, available with various engine options and optional equipment packages. The GLE Coupe packed similar hardware and features, but wore a sleeker and more curvaceous body.
Look for air suspension, navigation, a panoramic sunroof, advanced safety systems, performance headlights, an available AMG sport package, a drive mode selector, climate-controlled seats, push-button ignition, massaging seat functionality, and plenty more.
With standard AWD on board, flexible and luxurious interior accommodations, and no shortage of the industry’s best safety, convenience, and connectivity features included, the Mercedes GLE line should appeal readily to a shopper after top levels of all-weather confidence and an upscale driving experience.
Engine options included numerous six- and eight-cylinder units, including a 3.0-litre diesel V6 (GLE 350d), and a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 with 362 horsepower (GLE 450 AMG). Shoppers after V8 power can check out the mighty GLE 550, which packed a 4.7-litre turbocharged V8, good for 430 horsepower. A V6-powered plug-in hybrid model, called the GLE 500e, was also available.
Look for an automatic transmission with paddle shift, and standard 4Matic AWD on all models.
What Owners Like
Owners report an excellent blend of power and fuel mileage on models with the diesel engine, and pleasing performance from all of the GLE’s other available powerplants. A rich and sophisticated interior and plenty of high-end features helped round out the package. Ride quality is highly rated on most models, though units with bigger wheels may ride too stiffly for some tastes.
In all, expect this one to comfortably and confidently tackle any voyage, even in inclement weather. Some owners note that the air suspension and clever AWD system work well to tackle even more challenging off-road conditions, when required.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes include a learning curve to some of the interior controls and interfaces, as well as limited outward visibility on GLE Coupe models, thanks to the shape of the vehicle. Other drivers wish the vehicle was slightly less complicated – as fully loaded units have many advanced features and systems that can require some investment of time to learn.
One further owner-stated gripe is also worth noting: some owners report less-than-satisfactory performance from the standard halogen headlights included on some models. If you’re shopping a GLE with standard halogen headlights, make arrangements to drive the vehicle at night to confirm the performance for yourself. One owner even wrote this DIY post about upgrading the halogen lighting system.
Here are some owner reviews.
Pro Tip: Certified Pre-Owned
Consider buying your used GLE from a certified pre-owned (CPO) program at a Mercedes dealer. Buying from a CPO program is advised by many owners, despite the sometimes-higher pricing. Many shoppers find the peace of mind to be worth the ask: as dealer-sold CPO models are subjected to comprehensive checks, and typically have all maintenance, inspections, conditioning, recalls, and software updates up to speed – reducing the likelihood of owner headaches. Further, CPO models may benefit from additional warranty coverage, either included, or available at an added cost. This is worth consideration, as high-end German luxury utility vehicles are not commonly sought out for low repair bills as they age.
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Remember that a safety certification is in no way a guarantee that the vehicle you’re buying is in a trouble-free state, and that your single best defence against buying someone else’s upcoming repair bills is to have a Mercedes technician inspect the vehicle, in full, before you buy.
Pro Tip: Quality of Life Improvements
Let’s talk about a few ways to spend a few extra bucks to help ensure maximum long-term enjoyment of your used GLE. First, ensure the unit you’re considering is totally healthy in the battery department, to help fend off electronic issues that can often result from a weak battery. To keep the GLE’s battery (and all systems that rely on it) working properly, spend the $30 on a trickle charger and hook it up to the vehicle at all times when it will be parked for more than a few days.
Next, consider some professional paint and leather cleaning and protection. Look online for a reputable local detailing operation, and weigh the cost of paint correction and sealing treatments, as well as leather cleaning and conditioning treatments, against your available budget. These treatments can help protect your investment by maintaining its appearance for years to come, though they can be pricey.
The Test Drive
Some owners have reported fussy electronic parking brakes. The GLE has an automatic parking brake that applies itself whenever the vehicle is parked, and automatically releases when the throttle is first applied the next time the driver sets off. This process should be virtually invisible. If that’s not the case in the GLE you’re considering, it may set off with a jerk or clunk if the parking brake doesn’t release quickly enough. Some owners have been successful in having dealers adjust or recalibrate the parking brake system to prevent this issue.
Owners should check the fuel door, several times, over the course of their test drive. This push-to-click release allows the fuel door to be opened after pressing down on the edge until a “click” is heard. Press the door closed until you hear a click to shut it. If the door in the GLE you’re considering fails to open or close as expected, a dealer should investigate. This is a relatively rare problem, but one that’s easy to check for. Here’s some more reading. If the release fails, a secondary release cable is located within the vehicle for opening. Full details are in the owner’s manual.
Dirty Sock Smell
According to numerous owners of various Mercedes models including the GLE, a foul smell at engine start-up (possibly similar to musty socks or a dirty gym bag), may be caused by water and/or mould forming within the climate control system. Though the climate control system is designed to drain water captured by the A/C system out of the vehicle, some situations can cause moisture to accumulate within the system, with unsavory-smelling results. Here’s some more reading. Dealers may be able to reprogram the climate control system to better eliminate accumulated moisture, and some owners have dealers perform a cleaning and deodorizing procedure that can help. An occasional few-minute blast of hot air from the climate control can help evaporate any moisture accumulation, too.
Some owners have reported various clicking, popping, or snapping sounds from their GLEs. Causes listed are varied, and can range from a poorly insulated cupholder tray that can be fixed with some felt tape, to improperly torqued transmission cross-member bolts, to worn suspension components. Best advice? Test drive the GLE with your ears open. After confirming that the stereo and climate control fan work properly, turn them off and listen carefully to the vehicle. Any unwelcome sounds are cause for further investigation by a Mercedes technician. Do not assume an odd sound is something minor.
Other areas reported as sources of unexpected noises include the sunroof (lubricating the weather seals can help here), door openings (ditto), and various interior trim panels. Here’s some more reading. Note that many owners have reported luck in having squeaks and rattles remedied under warranty by a dealer.
Spend some portion of your test drive trying each and every feature within the GLE that runs on electricity, several times, to confirm proper operation. The COMAND controller dial, all screens, all motorized seat adjustments, the drive mode selector, all windows and locks, the sunroof, the motorized tailgate, and all controls on the steering wheel and dash should all be run through their paces to confirm proper functionality. Now’s the time to make sure that every one of the GLE’s features and systems, and their controls, are working properly.
Some owners have reported unsatisfactory wear and durability from the leather seating on certain models. As such, shoppers are advised to scrutinize the condition of the leather seats, and especially the driver’s seat. Examine the outboard seat bolsters for signs of excessive wear, loose leather panels, abrasion, or ripping. Confirm that the leather surfaces are snug and tight against the seat cushion beneath, not loose and wrinkly. If the seats seem to have higher-than-expected levels of wear, or appear to have loosely fitting leather that’s wrinkly, not smooth, call this into your pricing negotiations.
Here’s some more information on the plug-in hybrid GLE 500e. If you’re interested in a used one, be sure to shop patiently – noting that sales volumes were relatively low, for various reasons. Further, be sure that your local Mercedes dealer is certified to repair and service this special hybrid-powered model, as some owners report that certain dealers won’t/can’t work on them.
Availability will be fairly limited. As a basic precaution, don’t buy a GLE 500e without a full visual, mechanical, and electronic inspection by a hybrid-trained Mercedes technician. Also, ensure that all available software updates have been applied for maximum peace of mind.
Problems with this-generation GLE’s diesel driveline are reported with insufficient frequency against total sales volumes to warrant much concern, but we’d advise that shoppers set on a diesel-powered model have a dealer inspection carried out, with a keen focus on the fuel delivery system. Have a technician check all fuel lines, the fuel pump, the AdBlue injection system (which requires occasional refilling), and the engine computer for any trouble signs. These steps can reveal a potential problem before you buy, saving you money and stress.
The GLE’s air suspension system is one of the market’s most advanced – though as it tends to go with air-suspension-equipped vehicles, some caution is required before buying. Be on the lookout for warning and error messages relating to the system in the instrument cluster; and move the air suspension through its various modes (as outlined in the owner’s manual) several times, confirming that the system operates consistently and without warning messages. It may take several seconds for the suspension height to change, and this is normal. As air suspension hardware ages, leaks, corrosion, and moisture ingestion into the air system can all lead to problems. An extended warranty which covers the air suspension is worth considering. Be sure to strictly adhere to all maintenance and inspection requirements for the system (as outlined in the owner’s manual), for maximum peace of mind.
A (very) rough ride and sloppy body motion control are two signs of a worn-out air suspension system. Here’s some more reading.
If the used GLE you’re considering is still covered by some portion of remaining factory warranty, be sure to report any problems you experience to a dealer for inspection and documentation, as soon as possible. This can help speed future warranty claims, in some cases, even if the problem becomes worse after the warranty period ends. Note, further, that the warranty does not cover issues or damaged caused by vehicle modification, or by a failure of the owner (or past owners) to maintain the GLE in full, as outlined in the owner’s manual.
Most GLE owners report few if any problems, with more commonly reported issues tending to be minor in nature, and easily remedied. Key in buying a quality used GLE is confirmation that the vehicle was maintained and inspected regularly, to the letter, as outlined in the owner’s manual. Seek service records to prove this, and add an extended warranty to taste. After a thumbs-up from a technician, a used GLE can be bought with confidence.
The GLE was subjected to a considerable list of recalls, designed to address latent safety defects, free of charge. There are eight recalls for the GLE Coupe, and a whopping 17 recalls for the standard GLE model. Ask a dealer service advisor to confirm which, if any, recalls are outstanding for the specific model you’re considering, and plan to have the work performed as soon as possible for maximum safety.
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+ (2016)