Mercedes-Benz GLE

The standard Mercedes-Benz GLE comes in six different trims, while the GLE coupe offers 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. It makes 201 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque--plenty to get the GLE moving 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 385 horsepower and offers a good compromise between fuel economy and power, while this same engine is also available on the GLE coupe. Two 5.5L twin-turbocharged V8s are offered at the top of the range, the standard version making 550 horsepower, while the more powerful "S" version makes 577 horsepower. All GLEs send power to the wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The base GLE350 comes standard with the 3.5L V6 engine, which sends power to the rear wheels. A 4Matic all-wheel-drive version is also available. 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, a more performance-oriented suspension, and bigger brakes, making it the ultimate version of the standard GLE.

Finally, 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 GLE43 AMG Coupe gets the same 385-horsepower version of the bi-turbo V6 that powers the four door, 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 and a performance exhaust system, which is sure to let everyone in earshot hear what that 577-horsepower V8 sounds like under hard acceleration.

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Editors' First Take

When the original Mercedes-Benz M-Class first received the hi-po AMG treatment, the company wasn't entirely sure the world would embrace this new idea of performance. Fast-forward more than two decades and 50% of AMG vehicles leaving dealerships are SUVs. This trailblazer has hardly rested on its laurels at any point, and for the 2021 model year, things are shaping up to be as righteous as ever.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S picks up the same powertrain as the larger GLS63. At the heart of the matter is a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 producing 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque, just a bit of a bump from the 342 hp and 376 lb-ft of the original ML55. That power heads to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission, and sandwiched in the driveline is the same EQ Boost mild-hybrid system found on AMG's 53-badged models. It can add up to 21 hp and 184 lb-ft, in addition to extending stop-start use.

My first couple hours with the GLE63 S weren't spent giving it the ol' what-for. Instead, I was existing how most of its owners eventually will: stuck in Los Angeles traffic. You might think a hulking, 600-hp brute wouldn't be the smoothest thing at low speeds, but you'd also be dead wrong. The GLE63 S is a consummate professional at urban-commute velocities, with a throttle that's easy to modulate in tiny increments, making for smooth starts every time. A little grunt pops out of the exhaust pipes and off you go, the nine-speed automatic shifting smoothly along the way.

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