With its luxurious appointments, comfortable interior and responsive-yet-intuitive technology, the new-for-2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic is a superb luxury SUV, though there’s more here than meets the eye. Thanks to generous all-electric range, unusual DC fast charging capability and impressive refinement, this upscale utility vehicle is also one of the best plug-in hybrids you can buy today.
Setting the 450e 4Matic apart from other models in the GLE range is an efficient electrified drivetrain. Engineers melded a 2.0-liter turbo-four and a nine-speed automatic transmission with a permanent magnet electric motor and a 23.3-kilowatt-hour (usable capacity) lithium-ion battery pack to deliver an admirable blend of efficiency and performance.
On its own, that gas engine whips up 248 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, adequate figures for a hefty luxury SUV, but that’s not all. The electric dynamo adds an additional 134 horses and 325 pounds of twist to the mix, gracing the GLE 450e with a total of 381 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, enough for a 0-to-60 romp in a legitimately brisk 5.8 seconds when you drop the hammer.
Driven with a modicum of care, the plug-in GLE provides good acceleration and excellent all-electric range. Avoid pressing too hard on the accelerator, and you can cruise along smoothly and almost silently on electric power for an EPA-estimated 48 miles. Even in below-freezing weather, the vehicle’s range still impresses, only decreasing by a few miles according to the onboard computer.
Dig a little deeper, of course, and you will summon the combustion engine. For everyday use, however, the permanent magnet motor provides more-than-adequate performance on its own, though, curiously, torque still gets routed through the transmission, and you can feel subtle gearchanges, which is a little unusual if you have any experience with EVs.
Should more speed be needed — or if the battery pack is depleted — the engine kicks on to propel the GLE 450e. The engagement is smooth and this powerplant always remains hushed, though a noticeable bit of uncouth vibration can be felt in the floor, which is a bit surprising for a high-brow luxury vehicle.
When it’s time to juice up the battery, you can Level 2 AC charge at up to 11 kilowatts. That’s enough to completely replenish the pack in about 2 hours and 45 minutes. But one major advantage to this Mercedes-Benz, something almost no other plug-in hybrid offers, is that the GLE 450e can also DC fast charge. It tops out at 60 kW, which in the world of electric vehicles is laughably slow (though still quicker than a Chevy Bolt or Bolt EUV), but still, that’s enough to take the battery from 10 to 80% in just 20 minutes, so if you want to drive on electricity as much as possible, this SUV makes it easy.
Naturally, it’s best to use this vehicle as a plug-in hybrid, running off the battery when you can. But once the pack is depleted, there’s no need to worry because this Mercedes-Benz just operates like a conventional hybrid, delivering an estimated 24 mpg in mixed driving.
Matching its upper-crust demeanor, the GLE 450e’s ride is silky and coddling. Occupants are shielded from surface imperfections both large and small, something that is partly enabled by our tester’s AMG-branded wheels wrapped in 275/50 R20 Pirelli tires, which have a generous amount of sidewall to soak up bumps and ruts. As for handling, this Mercedes is undoubtedly a cruiser, not a corner carver. The steering is too light and it feels surprisingly imprecise for a modern vehicle.
Making life a little easier, the available $1,950 Driver Assistance Package Plus includes a range of helpful aids. Amenities like blind spot monitoring, steering assist, a lane-change helper and much more are included in the options group. This particular GLE 450e also features the $3,150 AMG Line Exterior package, which includes body-color wheel arch trim, the above-mentioned AMG rims and a twinkling star-pattern grille that looks stellar. The last major options group fitted to our tester is the $5,600 Pinnacle Trim package. This gets you a premium Burmester audio system, video-augmented navigation, massaging front seats with ventilation, a head-up display and more.
Aside from the addition of the 450e 4Matic model, the broader GLE lineup received a few other minor enhancements for 2024. The front bumper has been updated, the grille reworked, and there are a couple new paint colors and wheel designs to choose from. Inside, there’s an updated steering wheel with touch controls and a few other minor changes, but really, that’s about it for the latest model year.
Inside, the GLE’s cabin is comfortable and ritzy, especially in the $1,620 black and Catalana Beige color combination. A warm and inviting space, our tester also features optional ($850) piano black trim that incorporates thin metallic pinstripes for added pizazz. In addition to premium leather, miles of contrast-color stitching and high-quality controls, there’s also a pair of 12.3-inch screens mounted in a single housing on the dashboard. Crisp and colorful, these displays are easy to read and manipulate.
This vehicle’s familiar MBUX infotainment system is as responsive as ever, booting up in an instant and responding almost immediately to inputs from the control pad or touchscreen. MBUX flies, though it does have a bit of a learning curve as there are numerous menus to contend with, but the general layout is simple enough to master in short order. Of course, if you’d rather not deal with that, smartphone mirroring via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is supported. Both systems can connect to the GLE 450e wirelessly, so there’s no need to bring a cable.
Aside from offering ample comfort and support, this SUV’s front seats are heated and ventilated, plus they offer massage functionality. In fact, the butt warmers are so effective, you could practically roast a chicken, great news for drivers that live in frigid climates. The second row is also extremely accommodating, with plenty of space to easily fit adult-sized passengers. For $1,200 extra, the rear seats also power adjust and, if you pony up $500 more, they offer heating as well.
When it comes to pricing, the GLE 450e starts around $71,000 including $1,150 in destination fees. That’s not outrageous for everything you get, but the model shown here is, naturally, far pricier, checking out for a princely $92,380. In addition to the options mentioned above, this example also has Diamond White Metallic paint ($1,750), a panoramic sunroof ($1,000), four-zone climate control ($860), a trailer hitch ($600), soft-close doors ($500) and an optional dashcam ($200) to name a few of the extras padding the bottom line.
In the world of plug-in hybrids, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e 4Matic is something special. Aside from ample refinement, fantastic technology and impressive comfort, this amped-up SUV is an ideal choice for people that want to go electric but aren’t quite ready to fully commit. The GLE 450e offers excellent tailpipe emissions-free range, good electric performance and the ability to DC fast charge, which is almost unheard of for a plug-in hybrid. The only problem is this excellence doesn’t come cheap, especially if you’re not careful with the options.
At a glance
- Year: 2024
- Make: Mercedes-Benz
- Model: GLE
- Trim: 450e 4Matic
- Type: Plug-in hybrid SUV
- Electric motor horsepower: 134
- Electric motor torque: 325 pound-feet
- Total system horsepower: 381
- Total system torque: 479 pound-feet
- Electric range: 48 miles
- Pros: Generous electric range, DC fast charging capability, sumptuous and comfortable interior, highly effective seat heaters, smooth ride, impressive refinement, excellent infotainment tech, admirable fuel economy in hybrid mode, good performance
- Cons: Coarse gasoline engine, steep as-tested price, overly light steering
- Estimated Base price: $70,810
- As-tested price: $92,380 including $1,150 in destination fees