Caraganza First Drive Review 2020 Mercedes GLE 350: Don’t eat the grass

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018 // The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018

I am probably one of the scariest things in America right now:  a middle-aged white man.  This means of course that I am a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, right wing, vegan hating, pry-my-gun-from-my-cold dead-hands, anti-immigrant boomer.  In reality however, I am none of those things; except for the vegan hater, although I don’t actually hate vegans, I just can’t understand them.  And for the record my vegan friends, my dinner eats your dinner, for dinner.

The point is our world is filled with stereotypes; judgements made about people based on little more than who they are or what they look like. This is of course wrong.  We can’t simply judge people for who we think they are.  Except of course if you drive a Mercedes.

Let’s face it, when we see someone behind the wheel of a Mercedes, we immediately picture an arrogant, pompous, never use a turn signal, it’s my lane, sort of driver.  No matter if you are any of those things, behind that wheel, you are.

So then I say why not embrace it?

I thought of all this when Mercedes delivered me a 2020 GLE 350 for a recent week.  To me, the GLE is all the things one pictures when we think of a Mercedes driver; it’s large, overbearing and somewhat pretentious. From the colored interior lighting, to the MB logo that shines onto the ground, the GLE is the epitome of all things Mercedes.

And it turns out I’m just fine with that.

Der neue Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018 // The new Mercedes-Benz GLE, San Antonio 2018
I had the GLE 350 4Matic for my week. This fourth generation of the mid-sized luxury SUV went on sale this past spring.  It’s available in GLE 350, GLE 350 4Matic and GLE 450 4Matic levels. The differences are engine choices and all-wheel drive. The GLE also has seating for five passengers, or seven if you add the optional third-row seats.

The GLE is loaded with all the things that make all Mercedes special and this new generation adds all the latest upgrades and improvements including the new E-Active Body Control suspension option that leans the vehicle into the turns reducing lateral G-forces which is supposed to make the ride more comfortable.

Under the hood the GLE 350 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (255 horsepower, 273 lb-ft of torque) that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission; the 4Matic is of course all wheel drive.  The GLE 450 4Matic comes standard with all-wheel drive and gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder (362 hp, 369 lb-ft).  It also comes with a 48-volt EQ Boost electrical system that adds 21 horses when needed.

In addition to all the nice standard features (a sunroof, a hands-free liftgate, power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, keyless ignition and entry, adaptive suspension dampers, an automated parking system, dual-zone automatic climate control, a virtual instrument panel) and the standard tech (a 12.3-inch touchscreen, the MBUX infotainment system, a navigation system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, five USB-C ports, and HD radio) and the standard advanced safety features (emergency communications, forward collision warning and mitigation, a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a passenger-exit alert system, and a drowsy driver monitoring system) my tester for the week had the optional Premium package (a household power outlet, interior ambient lighting, a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system, satellite radio, and a wireless charging pad) and the Driver Assist package (adaptive cruise control, active emergency stop assist, lane keeping assist, active lane change assist, frontal cross-traffic alert, a traffic sign reader, and a low-level automated driving system), and the MBUX Technology package (augmented reality driving directions, a head-up display and additional controls for interior features) and the Energizing Package Plus (an air freshener, ventilated front seats, and multi-contour front seats with massage functions).

As I drove around in the GLE swaddled in all that Mercedes finery, I did feel a bit pretentious, somewhat above everyone else.  And at the end of my week I thought ‘why not embrace it?” After all, if you are going to be labeled as an arrogant, pompous driver why not enjoy it. Although I did use my turn signal.

The Mercedes GLE 350 is everything a Mercedes should be. And no matter what kind of driver you are, whether or not you stay in your lane, or use a turn signal, why not appreciate the ride, the comfort and the luxury.

At the end of the day, who cares what people think. Be yourself, and if you can afford to treat yourself to the goodness that is a Mercedes GLE. Just remember to use your turn signal and don’t eat the grass.

The 2020 Mercedes GLC 350 4Matic
MSRP: $56,200
MSRP (as tested): $71,835
Engine:  Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, 255 hp @ 6100 rpm, 273 lb-ft torque @ 1800 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 19 city, 26 highway, 22 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 24 mpg
Curb Weight (lbs) 4,696

Exterior Dimensions (In)
Wheelbase: 117.9
Length: 194.3
Width (w/ mirrors): 84.9
Width (w/o mirrors): 76.7
Height: 70.7
Track (front / rear): 66.10 / 66.77

Interior Dimensions (In)
Head room (front/2nd row): 40.5 / 39.6
Leg room (front/2nd row): 40.3 / 40.9 (41.1 with optional adjustable 2nd seat row)
Shoulder room (front/2nd row): 59.3 / 58.3

Basic Miles/km 50,000
Basic Years 4
Corrosion Miles/km 50,000
Corrosion Years 4
Drivetrain Miles/km 50,000
Drivetrain Years 4
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 50,000
Roadside Assistance Years 4

Greg Engle