2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e PHEV Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz, SUV, Test Drives

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are a refreshing take on a bridge to the electrification of vehicles being a versatile offering to take advantage of both electric vehicles (EVs) and the internal combustion engine (ICE). Automotive manufacturers are still playing with the idea of PHEVs and seeing how the public reacts to such, and so far, a decently sized following has taken root, and Mercedes-Benz has come into the picture to finally offer the midsized GLE in a PHEV for the United States.

The new 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE was already a star in more ways than one for its latest generation that we first experienced over 4 years ago with a conclusive appeasement from the German brand. Since then, the GLE has received minor refreshings, and now, a new PHEV GLE 450e gives us a substantial EV-only range for a PHEV. Such a range, up to 43 miles using just electricity, offers a divide in the full EV range of Benz EQ vehicles, where a gas engine in the GLE 450e provides a soothing cure to your range anxiety with the convenience of filling up the 17.2-gallon fuel tank.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e

Performance and Driving Character

Mercedes already had a 48-volt mild hybrid-assist system in the GLE 450 and 580 models, so it was a neat play to go full plug-in-hybrid for the new GLE 450e. Using a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 248 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque alone conjoined with a 134-horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque synchronous electric motor makes for an interesting combination. It’s such a combination that yields a total of 381 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, which is substantial on paper. However, with the packaging of the 23.3-kWh battery pack, electric motor, and all the other PHEV bits, there’s a bit of a weight penalty that we estimate to the tune of about 5,800 pounds. That extra weight, likely about 800 pounds more than the normal GLE 450, makes the GLE 450e a bit slower but still up to the task of not being a slouch. Luckily, the suspension system is up to the task of mitigating that extra heft but the rather large sidewalls on the beefy tires mounted on smallish 19-inch wheels on my test vehicle seem to make things feel overly spongy, and the turn-in seems to suffer with a bit of unpredictability.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e side

Out on the road, the GLE 450e behaves much like its GLE 450 trim sibling, and there’s a welcomed effortless transition of the PHEV powertrain switching from the use of the electric motor to having the gas engine step in for added power when needed. The system is smooth, and the substantial instant torque from the electric motor allows things to get moving from a stop in a hurry where the gas engine is hardly needed until you need to reach highway speeds. However, using the electric motor alone in the EV mode that the system defaults upon startup to when there is a battery charge above zero percent feels more substantial than other luxury PHEV SUVs that I’ve driven. The Benz GLE 450e seems to have more of a kick from its electric motor combined with using the 9-speed automatic transmission’s gearing to limit or avoid the use of the gas engine. It’s an interesting feeling and one that easily reaches highway speeds when you’re not on an incline. Put the GLE 450e in a climb, and the gas engine usually fires up for needed acceleration. Otherwise, the EV mode retains the sole use of the electric motor if you don’t depress the gas pedal into the kick-down notch. When both the engine and motor are working at their peak demanding full throttle you’ll expect to hit 60 mph from a standstill in 5.8 seconds.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e rear

In the Hybrid drive mode things get interesting where the system continues to utilize any bit of battery charge and will often shut down the gas engine upon coasting or deceleration. Combined with the 4-mode braking regen, the system appropriately reacts to either recharge the battery momentarily or allow the gas engine to shut down and increase the regenerative force for added deceleration. Such operation can be done automatically in the auto regen mode, where the vehicle’s front radar is used to detect your approaching vehicles and adds additional regen to slow the vehicle. Though, the use of the brakes feels unnatural, and the transition from the braking regen of the motor to use of the fiction brakes is unsettling, often making for sloppy stopping situations. That’s not to say braking is bad. It’s just hard to make it smooth – and passengers often notice such.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e 19-inch wheel

Fuel Economy and Electric Consumption

As a PHEV, the Mercedes GLE 450e does well when you take full advantage of charging up the battery pack. Using a Level 2 40-amp home charger, I was able to fully charge the battery in about 4 hours giving me an indicated 45 miles of EV range. While the estimate for EV range is set at 43 miles, I guess that the indication is from the ideal conditions of a hot 95-degree Florida day, which batteries love. Putting that range to the test was actually shocking as I came away with 48 miles of EV driving, though part of that drive, just under one full mile, was done with the engine firing up because I needed to hustle up one of our bridges passing a slow group of traffic. Otherwise, the EV mode retained full electric power.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e gauge cluster

The benefit of charging the GLE 450e PHEV on the go is that it allows for DC fast charging, which permits a peak charge at 60 kW taking 20 minutes for a 20 to 80 percent charge. The unfortunate discovery of the GLE 450e when choosing not to charge its battery is that you get rather dismal fuel consumption numbers where I often saw 22 mpg on average on the highway driving about 75 mph on the Intestate. The EPA estimates of 25 mpg city, 23 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined are attainable, but for me, it was only done when consciously driving conservatively. By fully charging the battery and setting off on a several-hundred-mile journey, you’ll expect to hit the 60 MPGe estimate or slightly beyond.

Interior and Technology

The cabin of the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e PHEV is identical to what I remember when I first reviewed the latest GLE. There’s a welcoming upright feeling in the cabin with plentiful headroom and a lot of power-seat adjustment to find your optimal driving position. The head, ventilated, and massaging front seats of my GLE 450e test vehicle proved to be comfy, and there was just the right number of soft-touch surfaces and a premium material feeling throughout to pass as being a luxury vehicle. Overall, the interior was mostly on the dull side, with nothing that really stood out, except the dual 12.3-inch screens for the digital gauge cluster and the latest MBUX touchscreen infotainment system. The screens, which oddly feel a little dated at this point after experiencing the gigantic Hyperscreen setup in the Benz EQS SUV, have a respected flow for interaction but take a while to become accustomed to finding some control menus. There redundancy of controlling the system remains with a convenient haptic-feedback trackpad, and the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant is excellent, with a wide variety of voice commands to control common functions.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e dashboard

The large color head-up display features augmented reality, as does the center touchscreen to overlay forward video feed with arrows and other items during an active navigation destination.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e front seats

The overall proportions of the GLE 450e are excellent, giving rear passengers plentiful room for most sized adults. I would have liked to have seen my test vehicle have additional features for the rear passengers, such as their own climate control and heated outboard seats, which are options that buyers can select.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e back seats

The cargo area also has a generous size and doesn’t change from other GLEs, with the 450e being a PHEV.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e cargo


Mercedes-Benz never skimps for active safety as the GLE 450e gets plenty of features that include blind-spot monitors, forward collision warning/emergency braking, lane departure warning/lane keep assist, rear cross-path detection, pedestrian detection, and a trick 360-degree camera system with a virtual interactive 3D walk-around view.

2024 mercedes-benz gle 450e 360 camera


One area where the new Mercedes-Benz GLE 450e PHEV may be a question mark for some is the pricing, which starts at about $76,000 and ramps up from there quickly with options. Such a price may have some considering if they want to spend just a bit more for the new all-electric EQE SUV, which starts at $77,900.


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