2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4MATIC

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4MATIC

As it relates to interior design, the GLE, like most current Mercedes offerings, is a winner.

It’s hard to believe that the original Mercedes-Benz M-Class came out nearly twenty-five years ago. With its body-on-frame layout, it was a ground-breaker for the segment and inspired a slew of rivals over the ensuing decade. After multiple generations and a re-name, this midsized luxury crossover is still as popular as ever. This is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4MATIC, the one that the vast majority of Canadians will opt for.

Starting at $69,900, the GLE 350 goes right up against the likes of the BMW X5. The Audi Q7 is in a similar size class, however it offers a third row that humans actually fit into. Value-conscious buyers can also shop the Acura MDX and Lexus RX. It’s worth mentioning that the GLE 350 offers a third row option for $2,400, but given the relatively compact dimensions when compared to the Audi, it’s for emergency use only.

This latest generation of the GLE is objectively pretty, with excellent proportions and rounded styling. In tune with Mercedes-Benz’s current styling language, the lines are crisp and handsome. Our tester was equipped with 20-inch wheels that fill up the wheel wells nicely. It’s not as aggressive-looking as the X5, but the GLE has a conservative look to it that will make it popular for those looking to not necessarily stand out from the crowd.

As it relates to interior design, the GLE, like most current Mercedes offerings, is a winner. The design is stunning, with lovely open pore wood finishing the dashboard and door panel inserts. The ambient lighting game has been cranked up a notch, as well, and Mercedes has the best in the business in this regard. Space is more than adequate with the seats providing all of the comfort expected for a Mercedes-Benz crossover. As long as the GLE is seen as a two-row family hauler, it’s more than up to the task.

Twin 10.25-inch displays housing the MBUX infotainment system are the heart of the GLE 350’s technology, though this interface remains capable but infuriating to use. Simple commands like changing tracks require multiple movements, and while the displays are brilliant, the system still needs some polishing. Those with the patience to use voice commands will find it easier to use, and the augmented reality for the navigation system is a nice touch.

One of the main marketing gimmicks – I mean, conversation points – around the latest GLE has been the E-Active Body Control suspension. Not available on the GLE 350, this active air suspension system causes the GLE to bounce up and down in quite a fashion. It’s supposed to be for the purpose of rocking it out of a sticky situation when off-road, but the only purpose in which we can see it used is for TikTok fame.

Powering the GLE 350 is a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine that’s turbocharged. The Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 also both come with boosted four-cylinders, and frankly, they’re barely enough for the weight of these beasts. Output is 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft. of torque, for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.1 seconds. The four isn’t quite as torquey as the 3.0-liter in the GLE 450 or GLE 53 models, but it’s fairly smooth and thanks to some sound engineering, sounds far better than the Volvo’s four.

We have previously complained about ride quality and overall smoothness on GLE models equipped with the air suspension, but this conventional layout is substantially better. It feels notably less fancy than an air ride setup, but the GLE 350’s ride is actually quite good and well sorted. There won’t be any complaint about secondary or tertiary motions that induce nausea, like we have seen in the higher trim models.

Mercedes-Benz has yet to announce official consumption ratings for the 2021 GLE 350 4MATIC, but we observed 11.4L/100km in a combined cycle. As expected, premium 91-octane fuel is required on this model. All models of the GLE come with standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive in Canada, and this configuration is rated to tow 7,700-pounds.

Building onto the $69,900 price point, our test vehicle was equipped with a series of packages including the Premium Package, Premium Plus Package, and Technology Package. A Sport Package at $1,500 adds the more stylish visuals and 20-inch wheels. The other bits are all nice to have in a luxury vehicle at this price point, including heated arm rests and door panels, Burmester audio system, heads-up display, etc. The as-tested $79,000 price seems steep, but is well within what comparable models in the segment sticker for.

Whether looked at in a vacuum or amongst its rivals, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 350 4MATIC is an excellent choice. Stepping up to the GLE 450 with its bigger engine will set buyers back $77,500 to start, but adds over a hundred horsepower and a powertrain more suited to the SUV’s size and personality. The GLE 350 is comfortable and quiet, and definitely a worthy step up from the smaller GLC.

See Also:

2020 Volvo Xc90 T8 Inscription

2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e

2022 Acura MDX Platinum Elite

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