2024 Mercedes-AMG GLE-53— Dressed for success

Remains relevant and competitive
following mid-cycle refreshing

By Jim Prueter

(September 15, 2023) Much like the smaller Mercedes GLC we recently reviewed here, the larger GLE tested this time around has been given a mid-cycle refreshing for 2024 but isn't all that evident by looking at it. That's isn't necessarily a bad thing, it was pretty sweet to begin with and it's quite obvious the company was careful not to mess with success.

For this review Mercedes sent us the 429-horsepower supercharged and turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that sits just below the 603-twin-turbo V8-powered AMG GLE-63, and replaces the
discontinued AMG GLE-43. Got it? Yes, it's the milder AMG version that's includes for the first time a mild hybrid comes with it  that boosts the 6-cylinder by a 22-hp electric motor under heavy acceleration directed to all four wheels through its nine-speed automatic transmission. Combined it scoots from 0-60 mph in 4.9-seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.

To further the AMG aura there's the exhaust. Mercedes adds the ability to let you amplify the engine's exhaust sound but the effect is mediocre at best. Activating the enhancement via a button on the steering wheel and the exhaust sound drones on especially at higher speeds to the annoyance of everyone in the vehicle. Odd the engineers at AMG approved this character for a Mercedes with the AMG emblem affixed to it.

We did appreciate the suspension with its standard air-ride setup ideal for highway cruising and active anti-roll technology that maintains mostly flat flat cornering. Steering was light and on center and we especially appreciated the tight turning radius making parking maneuvers and u-turns a cinch. Braking performance is impressive with minimal front end dive during hard braking stops.

But "mild hybrid" means there isn't anything to plug-in, nor is the AMG GLE-53 ever propelled entirely by electricity since the Mercedes' "EQ Boost" main function is to smooth out the stop/start function which in my observation didn't do much of a smooth job at it. We didn't much care for the nine-speed automatic transmission that once cruising at speed works fine. But engaging first gear from a stop can be a rough and jerking experience until it shifts to second. Selecting Sport mode and the transmission shifted erratically - downshifting to soon when braking but often too slow to upshift after reaching cruising speed. Annoying to be sure and out of character from my previous experience when testing AMG branded Mercedes vehicles.

To be sure, there's a bit more oomph to the AMG GLE-53 over the outgoing AMG GLE-43 with the engine feeling perkier and for most it will feel quick enough, but if you're expecting flat-out AMG GLE-63 S 600-plus horsepower performance you're not going to experience that shock and awe. There's always the sense others will feel you settled for the AMG GLE-53 because you probably couldn't afford the nearly $41,000 price bump to $128,850 for the base price of the AMG-63S along with its bragging rights. Irrational to be sure but it will cross your mind.

Of course, you could also consider the GLE 450e plug-in hybrid with the real benefits of electric range that's a considerable $17,250 less expensive than the AMG GLE-53 or the GLE 580 with a 510-horsepower and all the treasured luxuries for the same price. So, one might not be blamed if they feel a bit conflicted because when you pay extra for the AMG there's the implied and inherent focus and expectation on performance and sportiness but the "mild hybrid" moniker seems to water the potency down suggesting the AMG badging might not fit as naturally as it should.

Outside, the exterior refreshing includes a revised front fascia with expressively shaped side air intakes just below newly designed LED daytime running lights plus there's new AMG emblems on the front hood and fascia. The rear features revised LED taillights and our test AMG GLE-53 was equipped with the optional 21-inch AMG twin 5-spoke wheels that's standard on the AMG GLE-63 S Coupe. Black and Polar White are the only no-cost exterior color choices with our test GLE-53 sporting the $1750 optional Diamond White Metallic paint finish.

The GLE-53's interior maintains the expected top-shelf fit and finish expected from a Mercedes. The black AMG black Nappa leather upholstery in our test car was nicely accented with the $1,750 optional AMG carbon fiber trim throughout the instrument panel, console and door trim. All trim levels come standard with an electric sliding panoramic sunroof, and automatic high-beams.

The suite of standard equipment for the AMG GLE-53 is significantly expanded for 2024. Among the models' newly added standard features are the selectable AMG Performance exhaust system, enhanced Burmester surround sound system with Dolby Atmos, sound personalization and online music, MBUX Augmented Video for Navigation, Surround View system with "transparent hood" feature, electric panorama sunroof, and Nappa leather upholstery, which is complimented with newly standard heated and ventilated front seats.

The latest AMG Performance steering wheel is also standard across the model range, but adding Nappa leather and microfiber to the steering wheel cost an extra $500 to the price of our test car. Then again, considering the base price rose nearly $10,000 with the refresh, one should expect there would be more to enjoy.

Technology includes twin 12.3-inch infotainment displays and as mentioned supports the MBUX software interface. Interacting with the system can be had via the touchscreen, center-console mounted controller, steering wheel controls or by voice command with announcing "Hey Mercedes". We thought the voice command was a bit awkward and fussy but after a few days our practice of the commands recognized improved the performance. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Auto is standard. Ditto for the Wi-Fi hotspot.

Safety and advanced driver-assist features include Level 2 driving assistance, standard forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

Overall, Mercedes played it safe with the refresh doing just enough to keep it relevant and competitive in its class. The extra power from the hybrid, additional standard equipment, some nip and tuck tweaking of the exterior and throwing in more technology seems enough to give buyers a reason to check it out and compare it to competitors.

Conversely, there wasn't much refresh needed to begin with since the AMG GLE was already a high-quality, handsome SUV with a silky-smooth inline-six, adequate cargo and towing capabilities, a luxury interior and impressive driving attributes.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $86,750
Price as Tested: $95,150
Engine/Transmission: 429-horsepower, 3.0-Liter inline turbo 6 with hybrid assist paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission
EPA Fuel Economy: 18/23/20 MPG - City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 5

Crash Test Safety Results: Highest possible five star side crash rating and four out of five stars for rollover

Where Built: Vance, Alabama USA

Competes With:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Audi SQ7

Roomy, luxurious, comfortable interior
Classy good looks
Loaded with standard equipment and features

Transmission shifting woes
Missing Mercedes' latest tech upgrades
Disappointing economy boost with mild hybrid setup