Expert Reviews

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

Refreshed for 2024, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class gets a new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version that delivers impressive observed electric driving range.

It’s a winning combination, giving this lavishly appointed SUV enough emissions-free abilities to cover most daily drives in the splendid calm of electric propulsion.

Styling: 8.5/10

Here in a deep metallic green and riding on optional 21-inch wheels, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e sends a message of understated elegance and muscularity. The GLE-Class received a significant refresh for 2024, with restyled LED head- and taillights, front air intakes trimmed in chrome, and a revised front bumper and grille. This tester was also dressed up with aluminum running boards ($845) and the $2,200 AMG Line Exterior package that bestows some racier body bits and brakes.

Safety: 9/10

The GLE 450e comes standard with a basic suite of safety systems, but getting the full zoot requires a $2,600 Driver Assistance package that brings adaptive cruise control that works in stop-and-go traffic, evasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assistance, among others. Sensors can detect an impending collision or rollover, and then tighten the front seat belts, adjust the front passenger seat, and close the windows and sunroof, all in an effort to protect the occupants.

Practicality: 9/10

The GLE is one of the roomiest SUVs in this class, and despite this PHEV version packing a substantial 23.3-kWh battery pack below decks, it takes only a minor hit in cargo capacity compared with its gas-only sibling. The standard powered (and foot-operated) tailgate opens to reveal a large and flat load floor behind the 40/20/40-split second row, with 934 L back there. The seats fold nearly flat, expanding cargo capacity to 2,123 L. Unlike gas-only GLE-Class models, however, the 450e is not available with optional third-row seating.

Up front, there’s plenty of useful storage – generous door pockets, a phone charge cubby, heated and cooled cup holders in the centre console, and a sizable covered bin between the seats. The glove box is big, too.

User-Friendliness: 8.5/10

Benz gives you six ways from Sunday to interact with its latest infotainment interface; there’s the touchscreen, haptic thumb pads on the steering wheel, a trackpad on the centre console, programmable gesture controls, or voice commands. It’s all a bit daunting at first, but spend some time with it and the system gets familiar quickly. The dash sports a lovely swath of open-pore timber and houses two 12.3-inch screens. On the left is a configurable gauge cluster, while the right display is a touchscreen with pin-sharp graphics. Just about anything you need, from selecting radio stations to activating massage, to being entertained by an endless cache of corny dad jokes can be called up through the obedient voice control system. There’s also a row of metallic toggle switches for HVAC control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections are now wireless.

Features: 8.5/10

The 2024 GLE-Class gets a new three-tier package structure – Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle – offered on every version, including this PHEV. The cheapest 450e comes comprehensively equipped with such niceties as an excellent surround-sound system, panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, foot-activated tailgate, integrated navigation, surround-view cameras, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, subscription-based satellite radio, wireless phone charging, open-pore wood trim, and more. The cabin is cow-free, trimmed in convincing faux leather.

Ponying up $2,350 for the Exclusive package nets head-up display, ventilated front seats, heated armrests, advanced heating for the front chairs, and augmented reality for the navigation. The full-spec Pinnacle (an additional $3,600) adds multi-contour front seats with massage, climate-controlled cup holders, soft-close doors, advanced LED lighting, luxury front headrests, and more. Extra in this tester is the lovely Macchiato Beige upholstery ($2,105) that transforms the cabin to next-level posh.

Power: 8.5/10

With a combined output from the gas and electric motors measuring 381 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, the 2024 GLE 450e has no problem getting out of its own way despite its considerable 2,648-kg (5,838-lb) curb weight. This being a PHEV, the idea is to conduct most of one’s motoring on electric power. The electric motor only makes 134 hp, but it produces a very healthy 325 lb-ft of instant torque, which is more than enough for both in town driving and relaxed highway cruising. The 450e never feels like it’s wanting for more when running just on battery power.

Comfort: 9/10

Equipped with the top-tier Pinnacle package, this GLE 450e is the very definition of comfort, especially for those in the front who enjoy heated, ventilated, and massaging seats and heated armrests. Factor in an incredibly quiet cabin (marginally less so when the gas engine kicks in) and an impressively calm and compliant ride, and you have first-rate passenger coddling conveyance. The Pinnacle’s Air Balance package purifies the air in the cabin using charcoal filters and an ionizer. The second half of the Air Balance system is an optional fragrance atomizer with a choice of four aromas. This feature is turned on/off in intervals and, unlike earlier versions, it is mercifully subtle – the fragrances won’t have your partner questioning your whereabouts prior to arriving home.

Another word to the wise: stick with the standard 20-inch wheels versus these 21-inch alloys that make themselves known over sharper impacts.

Driving Feel: 8/10

This PHEV isn’t particularly sporty, but then that’s probably for the best – especially considering the AMG version that’s on its way. It’s not as if this version isn’t a competent handler or quite quick in its own rights; it’s just that its wonderfully calming demeanour and light steering don’t inspire enthusiastic antics.

When in electric mode, the gas engine pretty much stays out of the equation until the battery depletes, and when it does fire up there’s an audible cue but no vibration or change in power delivery. Sport mode holds gears longer for the nine-speed automatic transmission, and a hold mode maintains the battery’s level of charge if you need silent or emissions-free driving later in the trip – like, say, in the city, where it’s better utilized compared to the highway. The 450e’s regenerative braking can be a bit uneven at times, with varying levels selectable via the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

Fuel Economy: 9/10

Running purely on the gas engine (with the battery depleted), the GLE 450e operates as a normal hybrid vehicle and is rated at 10.5 L/100 km in the city, 9.1 on the highway, and 9.9 combined. However, if your daily jaunts don’t exceed the 77 km (give or take) of electric range afforded by the 23.3-kWh battery, economy drops to 4.1 L/100 km. During this test week, which included a number of extended highway trips, it burned through 6.9 L/100 km of premium-grade gas. The 450e charges in 2.5 hours on a 240-volt Level 2 outlet, and in 20 minutes at up to 60 kW on a DC fast-charger.

Value: 8/10

At $90,100, the well-equipped base GLE 450e is certainly expensive, but never does this lavishly appointed PHEV ever feel anything less than its price tag. And when considering this PHEV costs only about $5,000 more than a similarly equipped four-cylinder gas-only GLE 350, the 450e seems like quite a bargain.

The Verdict

With the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e’s aggressive pricing in relation to the base gas model, this brand is making the small financial leap to this exceptional PHEV a bit of a no-brainer. Electric propulsion is the definition of luxury, and with its generous electric-only range, GLE 450e owners could conceivably forget what it’s like to pump gas. If a lengthy road trip is in the cards, they can forget about range anxiety as well. The 450e is a calming, coddling, classy, and quick luxury SUV, and for this musician, the outstanding standard surround-sound stereo is the icing on the cake.

Engine Displacement 2.0L
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4 w/ 100-kW synchronous motor
Peak Horsepower 381 hp
Peak Torque 479 lb-ft
Fuel Economy 10.5 / 9.1 / 9.9 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb (hybrid); 4.1 Le/100 km, 36.4 kWh/100 km combined, 77 km est. range (electric only)
Cargo Space 934 / 2,123 L seats up/down
Model Tested 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e SUV
Base Price $90,100
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,250 plus dealer PDI
Price as Tested $103,980
Optional Equipment
$12,530 – Pinnacle Trim, $3,600; Exclusive Trim, $2,350; Macchiato Beige Interior, $2,105; aluminum running boards, $845; 21-inch wheels, $1,430; AMG Line exterior, $2,200