Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e gets PHEV right
The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a popular SUV thanks to its good looks and high amount of luxury for the price paid. For 2024, Mercedes changed a few things for the GLE including big interior updates, an upgrade to its infotainment system, and styling changes to the front and rear plastics. The biggest change, though, is the addition of a plug-in hybrid model, the 450e.
At a glance
- New PHEV model has more range than any previous Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid
- DC fast charging capability
- Features the latest Mercedes-Benz infotainment with natural voice commands
- Doesn’t appear to have a third row option
The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e combines a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with an electric motor, a 9-speed automatic transmission and a 23.3-kWh battery pack. That’s a substantial upgrade in battery size from previous plug-in hybrids from Mercedes. And it gives the 450e about 40 miles (64 km) of range per charge. Mercedes hasn’t released official numbers yet, but most of those who’ve test-driven the new PHEV SUV report 35 to 40 miles (56 to 64 km) of driving range.
Our tests averaged 36 to 37 miles (58 to 59.5 km), although that number dropped significantly when using the freeway instead of slower surface roads. We were able to verify that the 450e can go past 75 mph (121 km/h) in EV mode without engaging the engine to add any extra power. Given the average daily commute for most drivers, the vehicle should achieve most people’s daily drive without needing the engine – or at least needing it only very occasionally.
That’s a significant statistic for this PHEV. Having at least 35 miles (56 km) of daily range without using fuel is a milestone that allows most plug-in hybrid owners to truly realize the benefits of a PHEV. There’s no range anxiety or "map out a route" requirement if driving long distances, and most daily driving is covered without having to burn petroleum.
The 35-mile+ range is especially notable because this isn’t a small compact vehicle, but a large SUV known mostly for its luxury and power. It's a true win-win during this EV transition stage where not everyone is able to make the leap to full-electric yet.
The 2024 GLE 450e can be plugged into not just standard Level 2 chargers, but also DC fast chargers. The latter allow it to be charged from 20 to 100% in about 10 minutes. Standard Level 2 charging takes up to 2.5 hours, depending on amperage. Our 240-volt, 50-amp charger charged the 450e from near zero to full in about two hours and 40 minutes. Fast charging is another unusual trait for a PHEV.
Changes to the interior of the GLE include a new steering wheel outfitted with Mercedes’ new sensory controls. These are better tuned and require less concentration and finger pressure from the driver compared to sensor-based buttons used in the the previous model we reviewed. They’re also more intuitive, offering a broader range of activation and a "hover" feature that displays the feature one’s finger is about to activate on the driver information screen. This function helps eliminate false button presses from finger-fudging while on the go. It's far better than the "search pad" used previously.
These sensor-buttons are further augmented by a few simple gesture controls and Mercedes’ very well done voice activation on the MBUX infotainment system. This natural language response system requires only a "Hey Mercedes" prompt followed by a question or command, making navigation, audio tuning, phone calls and more an easy, hands-free option. It includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with wireless connectivity as standard. This is by far the best hands-free infotainment system we've used thus far.
Like most Mercedes-Benz vehicles sold in North America, the 450e has a luxurious interior with top-shelf materials choices and a spacious but comfortable feel. Whether real or faux leather is chosen (this depends on options), the upholstery feels beautiful, and textures throughout the cabin are well chosen.
For us, however, the greatest knock against the vehicle is in the rear seating. There is no third row option for this PHEV model – at least none that has been announced, and our test model had only two rows. That’s too bad, as other models of the GLE can seat up to seven.
On the road, the 2024 GLE 450e is a good drive. Adaptive dampers, an air suspension system, and intuitive steering all aim to make it feel smaller and lighter than it actually is when maneuvering. This couples with the smooth response of an EV and the quick speed of the turbo-four to inspire confidence in most driving scenarios. It’s not a speed demon when compared to the AMG options in the GLE lineup, but it’s no slouch either. Our tested 0-60 mph (92 km/h) sprints from a full stop were in the 6-second range, which isn’t bad for an SUV this size.
Mercedes-Benz has not announced pricing for the 2024 GLE lineup, including the 450e PHEV. That will come closer to production, which is slated for the third quarter of 2023. We expect it to be in the US$60,000 or higher price bracket.
Product page: Mercedes-Benz GLE