Coming soon to a suburban traffic jam near you: the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class creeping along, fully loaded with cargo and kids.
The newest luxe family conveyance bowed Tuesday, full of fuel-saving tech—and just plain ol' tech. It'll hit streets next year, although Mercedes-Benz didn't say how much it would cost.
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The new GLE follows closely behind the three generations that came before it nearly 20 years ago. The family hauler is roughly 5 inches longer, from nose to toes, with 3 additional inches between the wheels for more passenger space. A third row is optional again—it was previously available beginning in 1999 with the ML320, when the luxe SUV helped kickstart a frenzy for luxury family wagons.
With the GLE-Class, Mercedes-Benz offers its latest driver-assistance systems that can help steer the SUV through dense interstate slogs between rush hours, at speeds up to 37 mph with a clearly visible car to follow. The automaker's optional system, which it calls Active Stop-and-Go Assist, monitors traffic and can slow the car ahead of congestion, too. A separate driver-assistance system can stop the GLE from turning into oncoming traffic if a nearby car is detected and the driver doesn't brake.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
Under the hoods of the GLE-Class—at least initially—will be a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 255 horsepower with rear- or all-wheel drive, or a hybrid, turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with 362 hp lifted from the CLS-Class paired to all-wheel drive. Mercedes says its new all-wheel-drive system can vary torque between all four wheels independently, which should be more efficient and quicker to respond when better traction is needed. Both engines are mated to 9-speed automatic transmissions.
The higher-power GLE450 features a 48-volt mild-hybrid powertrain boasts a starter-generator system that provides up to a 21-hp boost for passing power and can propel the family hauler up to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.
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The new GLE is a subtle evolution of the GLE-Class before it, and even the M-Class before that. The wide grille is bookended by big LED headlights that reach far back into the front wheel arches. Along the body sides, the GLE is a deadringer for the crossover that came before it, but butch wheel arches reach around big standard 19-inch wheels, upgradable all the way up to 22-inchers.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class
Inside, the GLE's style serves its prodigious standard tech and veritable "wall o' screens" that Mercedes now fills its cars with. The GLE-Class is standard with the latest MBUX infotainment system, which sports dual 12.3-inch screens for instruments and infotainment. There's more: The GLE-Class gets MB's newest wavy-arm-and-finger infotainment control system (perhaps you've seen BMW's "Minority Report" system lookalike?) to control certain functions. Its usefulness is debatable, according to us.
The GLE should coddle its passengers who aren't flailing, however. Along with its newfangled "Energizing Comfort" cabin system that aims to reduce fatigue, the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class also will feature an optional power-adjustable second row, and available third row seat.
An air suspension on the GLE450 can quell body motions in the tall-riding SUV for better roadholding and passenger comfort thanks to individual wheel sensors that constantly change spring and damping forces. The trick suspension system can even rock a GLE450 out of sand, if one should ever find its way out of the mall parking lot.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class goes on sale in the spring of 2019 and will make its formal debut in October at the 2018 Paris auto show.