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The Mercedes-Benz M-Class gets a major update and a name change for this year. From 2016 on, it will go by its new name, the GLE. Beyond a change in nomenclature, the GLE gets a new front fascia that echoes the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup, giving the GLE more brand continuity. New taillights in the back also improve the styling, leaving the GLE with clean, contemporary looks. The biggest change however, is a brand new coupe version. With low slung styling and powerful performance oriented engine options, the GLE Coupe should be a good match for anyone looking for a sporty, yet practical ride that has no problems conquering the elements.
The standard Mercedes-Benz GLE comes in one of six different trims, while the coupes offer a further two trims to choose from. A total of six different engines are offered amongst those various trims, starting with a 2.1L Turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine. 201 horsepower may not seem like a lot, but the engine also makes 369 foot-pounds of torque from just 1600-1800 RPM, plenty to get the GLE moving away with urgency. The gasoline-powered 3.5L V6 offers less torque, but it does make more horsepower, with a total of 302. A more powerful, but also more efficient 3.0L twin-turbocharged engine makes 329 horsepower and offers a good compromise between fuel economy and power, while a 362 horsepower variant of this same engine is also available on the GLE Coupe. Two 5.5L twin-turbocharged V8's are offered at the top of the range, the standard version making 550 horsepower, while the more powerful "S" version makes 577 horsepower. All GLE's send power to the wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The Base GLE350 comes standard with the 3.5L V6 engine sending power to the rear wheels. An all-wheel drive version is also available, adding roughly $2500 to the base price of the GLE350. Standard features on the GLE350 include 19-inch wheels, adaptive, computer controlled suspension, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, power, power folding rearview mirrors, synthetic leather upholstery, wood trim, an 8-inch high resolution screen, Bluetooth audio streaming and a built in garage door opener.
The GLE300d 4Matic is the least expensive all-wheel drive option and comes similarly equipped to the GLE350. Its diesel engine however, sets it apart, with up to 29 mpg available on the freeway.
The GLE400 4matic comes with the bi-turbo 3.0L V6 and all-wheel drive. Standard features include a Harman/Kardon stereo, SiriusXM satellite radio, a navigation system, a power tilting sunroof, a powered liftgate and 20-inch wheels.
With its 550 horsepower V8, the AMG GLE63 can sprint to 60 mph in a claimed 4.2 seconds, making it faster than many sports cars. Unlike those sports cars however, the GLE63 will coddle occupants in Napa leather upholstery and burnished walnut trim. The GLE63S meanwhile adds 21-inch wheels, more performance oriented suspension and bigger brakes, making it the ultimate version of the standard GLE.
The GLE Coupe gets lower and leaner bodywork; squint at it just right and you can almost see the profile of a sports car within the styling lines of this mid-sized SUV. The GLE450 AMG Coupe gets a 362 horsepower version of the bi-turbo V6 that powers the GLE400 as well as air suspension, 21-inch wheels, Napa leather upholstery and LED headlights. The top of the line AMG GLE63 S Coupe rides on 22-inch wheels, has more direct steering, and a performance exhaust system, letting everyone in earshot hear that 577 horsepower V8 under hard acceleration.