Yes, that's a new steering wheel.
The Mercedes GLE was refreshed for the 2020 model year, but Mercedes is already working on a facelift as competition in the mid-size SUV segment is heating up. We got our first sighting of the facelifted Mercedes GLE undergoing testing back in August.
Last month, we caught Mercedes testing an updated prototype with less camouflage, giving us a more revealing look at the subtle design changes. As it gets closer to production, a third Mercedes GLE has been spotted parked up, allowing our spy photographers to sneak in and get some close-up shots while the test driver was away. This time, we get a first look inside the cabin. If you were hoping for some significant upgrades, prepare to be disappointed.
Apart from a new steering wheel, the interior looks identical to the current GLE, retaining its 12.3-dual-screen layout for the digital gauge cluster and MBUX touchscreen. This perhaps isn't surprising considering the current GLE has only been on sale since the 2020 model year.
On the outside, most of the major changes will be applied to the front judging from the camouflage. Inspired by the new-generation E-Class and S-Class, the headlights look slimmer and the front bumper will likely be redesigned. The rear is also camouflaged, so the taillights will also be tweaked. The charging port on the left fender confirms the prototype is based on the GLE plug-in hybrid, which is not sold in the US.
In Europe, the electrified GLE pairs a 2.0-liter diesel engine with an electric motor to produce a combined 320 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, while a 31.2-kWh battery pack provides an electric driving range of up to 61.5 miles based on the WLTP cycle.
The range is expected to increase in the facelifted version. In the US, expect the updated GLE to still be offered with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six with a mild-hybrid EQ Boost. With the camouflage stripping away, the new GLE facelift should debut early next year and go on sale for the 2023 model year to take on the BMW X5.