Seven years ago, Mercedes-Benz changed the name of its mid-size sport utility vehicles from M-Class to GLE. It aligned the vehicles with the badges of the manufacturer’s most closely related sedans. The SUVs are offered in five trims, including the AMG GLE 53, and they remain among the carmaker’s most versatile luxury wheels.
With the AMG GLE 63, the two siblings feature the subsidiary’s suite of high-performance engines and superior interior accouterments that can elevate the offerings to six-figure vehicles.
All trim levels come standard with all-wheel drive, which Mercedes-Benz calls (4MATIC) except for the GLE 350. It’s also available in rear-wheel drive. The GLE lineup also has five-passenger seating standard, with three rows for seven passengers optional. The AMG GLE 63 S is the exception with only two rows available.
Focused on performance, the GLE 53 is equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine with 429 horsepower and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration from 0-to-60 miles per hour takes 4.7 seconds. Gas mileage is 18 miles per gallon in city driving, 22 mpg on the highway.
It also features 20-inch AMG wheels, upgraded brakes, a showcased AMG exterior and interior and a top-line Burmester surround-sound system.
Nearing 100 years old, Mercedes-Benz has always maintained its luxury status The trio of top German automakers — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — have also sustained their healthy rivalry. It’s a good thing for consumers. The three stalwarts ate in the thick of the segment with top challenges from Cadillac, Lexus, Genesis and Volvo, among others.
The AMG GLE 53 makes a strong case for top-of-the-list honors. Top-notch materials are used throughout the interior and are complemented by a spacious, well-designed interior. The GLE 53 has plenty of room for five but its elements make it seem larger. Like many SUVs, however, the third row substantially tightens up quarters.
While still the same generation from the vehicle’s debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, this year’s AMG edition has several updates and embellishments. New are standard automatic high-beam headlights; multi-adjustable front seats with a massage function are options.
The upscale AMG GLE 53 has other garnishes, including Circuss Silver as a new paint color Air Balance, an air purifier-and-fragrance system.
Safety has always been a Mercedes-Benz strong point, and the GLE complies. Every model offers myriad driver-assistance features, including a semi-autonomous driving mode. Forward-collision warning and automatic braking are standard. Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist are available.
State-of-the-art technology is a German thing done in the GLE. The dashboard features twin 12.3-inch infotainment displays. The AMG models support the latest MBUX software interface. The driver and front-seat passenger can interact with the system by using the center-console touchscreen mounted click wheel. More convenient in the verbal command, “Hey Mercedes.” Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a Wifi hotspot are standard.
But not all is great. The AMG GLE 53 has well-heeled Mercedes-Benz driving traits, a stiff, confident road persona. But braking is surprisingly soft. The exterior also has one oddity. The carmaker’s log in the front grill is huge, nearly large enough for use as a super hero’s shield.
The GLE leaves little doubt it’s a top mid-size luxury SUV choice, but it comes with a hefty price. The MSRP is $73,550. But three of its options packages are at $4,000 or more. Add the long list of lower-priced options and the total price is $101,080.
It’s a pause moment when vehicles surpass the 100K plateau. For Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts, the fully equipped GLE 53 is likely worth it, but equally worthy, less expensive options abound.
Article Last Updated: September 19, 2022.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.