For 2016, Mercedes-Benz is saying goodbye to the ML designation that has adorned its bread-and-butter luxury SUV since 1997. In its place is the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, debuting at the New York auto show next week in various gasoline, diesel, hybrid, and high-performance AMG forms.
As a quick refresher on the name change, all Mercedes SUV models will use a “GL” prefix going forward, with the “E” representing that this model fits into the midsize E-Class range. The GLE-Class will soon be bordered on either side by the upcoming GLC (formerly GLK) and GLS (formerly GL) models.
But don’t let the new badge fool you: the GLE-Class is essentially a refreshed version of the third-generation ML that has been around since 2012. An updated exterior look and various new powertrains headline the changes to this midsize luxury SUV, which also now has a BMW X6-like coupe variant in the 2016 GLE Coupe that was revealed earlier this year.
The GLE’s overall appearance thus isn’t changed too much from the ML, with a larger front grille, reshaped headlights, and more modern-looking LED taillights. On the inside, the GLE displays a larger central infotainment screen that makes use of an updated Comand controller with a touchpad.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE’s gasoline and diesel powertrains mostly carry over from last year’s ML, and include a 302-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 in the GLE350; a twin-turbo, 329-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 in the GLE400; and a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel in the GLE300d. Each of these engines pairs with a seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive, except for the GLE350, which comes standard with rear-wheel drive and offers 4Matic as an option. Curiously, Mercedes is waiting a bit longer to roll out its new nine-speed automatic transmission, which won’t be available for the GLE400 until the 2017 model year version that will launch in mid-2016.
One big addition to the lineup for 2016 is the GLE550e 4Matic plug-in hybrid, which uses a twin-turbocharged V-6 in combination with a 114-hp electric motor to provide 436 total system horsepower and an electric-only driving range of 18.6 miles at speeds up to 81 mph. This powertrain, which also uses a seven-speed automatic and 4Matic, is meant to provide the power of a V-8 engine while achieving fuel economy better than a V-6.
If the robust hybrid powertrain isn’t enough, the high-powered AMG version sticks around for the GLE, and uses the same 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 from the ML63 AMG. Now branded as a Mercedes-AMG like other recent models from the performance division, the GLE63 packs 550 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque as standard, with a GLE63 S model bumping those numbers up to 577 hp and 561 lb-ft. The AMG variant also comes with beefed-up suspension tuning, serious wheels and tires, and the expected aggressive styling tweaks to set it apart from standard GLE models.
After making its debut at the New York auto show next week, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class will go on sale in August 2015. Considering the carryover powertrains and minimal changes, don’t expect pricing to change too much from the Ml, which costs $49,225 for the V-6 ML350, $50,725 for the ML250 diesel, $63,825 for the ML400, and $99,325 for the ML63 AMG.