Crossovers are huge draws for luxury car manufacturers, as buyers have become focused on having one vehicle that does it all well. For Mercedes-Benz, the 2018 GLE-Class is that vehicle, as its plethora of body and powertrain configurations means buyers can have their pick of the litter. This variety does, however, come with a big hit to the pocketbook.

Does the GLE-Class deliver the goods to justify its massive price tag? Continue reading to find out.

Best Value

While you can choose one of the wild-child AMG models or the Coupe body, we suggest sticking with the standard GLE 350, which is only available in the traditional two-box body. It’s got plenty of pop from its 302-horsepower V6 engine and comes loaded with premium features, like 19-inch wheels, automatic wipers, a sunroof, a power liftgate, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat, an eight-speaker audio system, two USB ports, and more.

We also recommend adding the Premium 1 Package to get most of the upscale features a luxury car shopper would want, including navigation, satellite radio, a 14-speaker audio system, and a 115-volt outlet. Plan on spending $720 for paint (unless you're in love with the no-cost black or white options), and we'd add another $1,620 for leather upholstery. All told, we'd end up just under $60,000 for our ideal GLE350.

  • Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE350 4Matic
  • Engine: 3.5-liter V6
  • Output: 302 hp / 273 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 18 Cit/ 23 Hwy
  • Options: Premium 1 Package ($3,050, Android auto, Apple CarPlay, navigation, SiriusXM, lane-keep assist, keyless ignition, 115-volt plug, Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 surround sound, and blind-spot assist), leather upholstery ($1,620), metallic paint ($720)
  • Base Price: $53,195 (including $995 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $59,435

Performance

Mercedes GLE

There is ample acceleration with the base 3.5-liter V6 engine, but the real fun comes in the 577-hp GLE63S. The GLE-Class’ ride is composed and quiet at all levels. You can also get your power with a clearer conscious with the 436-hp GLE500e plug-in hybrid.

The adjustable air suspensions makes noticeable tweaks according to the ride settings the driver selects. Sport mode is one of the most noticeable, as it tightens everything up and gives the SUV a noticeably crisper turn-in.

Fuel economy is not so hot in gasoline-only models. What’s more surprising is that the GLE550e plug-in hybrid can only muster up 21 miles per gallon combined. The GLE-Class is not built for real off-roading, so stick to the well-groomed paths.

Interior and Exterior

There is a GLE-Class for everyone, thanks to its base GLE350, its more wild-looking AMG models, and its sporty-looking GLE-Class Coupe.

The front seats are very supportive and well-padded, making long trips easier on the backside. The standard model's rear seats can easily accommodate taller passengers.

While the coupe body is a nice change of pace, its low roofline gobbles up cargo room and rear-seat headroom. Also, the cabin hasn’t changed much since its days roaming the streets with the M-Class badge.

The rear seats are comfortable, but we question the spec sheet's claim that there's room for three adults. Trying to stuff a trio of average-size adults in the second row is a test of tolerance and dexterity.

We'll also register a complaint over the interior quality – it's not that the GLE-Class is bad, per se, but it's simply an old design. Newer rivals, like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, have much nicer interior designs and better materials.

The Best and Worst Things

The sheer number of options the GLE-Class has is incredible, which means there is a model that can fit virtually anyone’s needs. What’s more, its performance is solid across the entire lineup.

The infotainment system is finicky, leading to a lot of frustration when trying to quickly change your route or update a setting. Also, the coupe body, while stylish, is tuned for a very narrow niche.

Right For? Wrong For?

Mercedes GLE

The GLE-Class is perfect for the buyer who doesn’t care much for compromise. They know what they want, and the GLE-Class is just that.

Early-stage luxury SUV buyers will likely find the GLE-Class a bit too rich for their taste. This is especially true once they start adding a few options or move to an AMG model. Volvo and Lexus offer a lot more value for the money.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is a refined SUV that’s spent years – some of which were under the M-Class name – learning what its buyers want and growing. This has resulted in an SUV that delivers on virtually every front, but it has also led to a price tag that inflates very quickly and prices out younger buyers.