Including one that the kids will adore.
We recently wrapped up testing the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 but the car was so loaded with interesting features, we needed to dedicate an entire top ten list to cover them. The last generation GLE was little more than a rebadged ML but this new model is a completely new model. It includes a new inline-six engine as well as the latest Mercedes-Benz User Interface (MBUX) infotainment system and a few other interesting new features and abilities. Here are ten of our favorites.
If you watch our video review of the GLE, you'll get a pretty good idea of what Free Driving Assistant does. This hilarious feature comes as part of the $8,100 E-Active Air Suspension Package and basically causes the whole car to bounce up and down as if it were on hydraulics - hence why we affectionately call it 'bounce mode.' Its purpose is to help get the GLE out of sand or snow but it can just as easily be used to entertain your children or attract attention at car shows.
Bouncing up and down is not the only function of the E-Active Suspension, it is also capable of raising or lowering each wheel individually using the central touchscreen, so it won't scrape on rocks while off-roading. On the road, the system uses cameras and sensors to read the road ahead and prep the suspension for bumps. When you go over a speed hump in the GLE, it becomes nearly undetectable, making this one of the most comfortable SUVs we've ever driven.
As part of the new MBUX system, occupants can simply say the phrase "Hey Mercedes" in order to trigger the GLE's voice command. When the system worked properly, we found it to be a great way to quickly access hard-to-find functions in the car. There were some occasions were the system activated accidentally when we didn't need it, so we think Mercedes still has some kinks to work out to make it perfect.
Since we usually know where we are going, we don't often test the built-in navigation on new cars. But we're glad we tried it out on the GLE because we never would have noticed the augmented reality feature. Instead of just showing a digital map, the GLE uses cameras to overlay navigation instructions on a real-world image. Now, even the most oblivious drivers won't miss their navigation prompts and turn on the wrong street.
MBUX is highly customizable, so there are multiple themes drivers can choose from. Each theme is highly configurable with map information, trip data, and much more. This is one of the biggest benefits of having a screen where traditional gauges would normally sit.
Many consumers hate the stop/start system in their cars because it feels clunky and rough. Since the GLE 450 has a 48-volt mild-hybrid assist, the stop/start is one of the smoothest we've tested. As we discovered in the Audi A6, a mild-hybrid system is capable of driving the climate control system and the starter motor so it almost feels imperceptible when the engine fires up again.
Mood lighting is not a particularly unique feature, especially considering a $22,000 Ford Fiesta ST also has it. But the GLE's mood lighting is a little more complex than a Fiesta or Chevy Camaro. Not only can the driver choose from an endless array of colors, Mercedes has also included pre-programed color combinations and lighting effects such as turning blue/red when the climate control is turned colder or hotter.
When executed well, seat massaging is one of our favorite features on high-dollar luxury cars. As part of a $1,500 package that also includes ventilated front seats, the GLE can deliver several different massage modes, including an Activating Massage meant to prevent the driver from cramping up on long journeys.
We test a lot of new car audio systems but the Burmester unit Mercedes uses is one of our favorites. The $1,850 Premium Package includes a Burmester Surround Sound System with 13 speakers, two subwoofers, and a 590-watt nine-channel digital amplifier. If you are willing to pay $5,400, you can get the Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound System with 25 speakers and a 1,590-watt amp.
The 2020 GLE is so luxurious, you don't even have to lift a finger raising or lowering the second row seats. At the press of a button, the seats can fold completely flat or slide forward to allow access into the third row. Second row occupants can even electronically adjust their seats to get comfortable and electronically raise or lower side sunshades to block out the sun.