Introduction to the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class


What's New for 2016
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe is an all-new model.

Thinking about buying a BMW X6? You might want to hold off a bit longer. By next fall, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe will also be available. Like the X6, the new Mercedes will be a four-door SUV with sleek coupe styling, mechanically derived from a more traditional SUV model. In this case, that will be the new GLE-Class, which you'll know better by its former name, the ML-Class.

Mercedes plans to rename its SUV lineup (GLK, GL and ML models) to better align it with its sedans and coupes. All SUVs will use the "GL" prefix, partially in tribute to the iconic G-Class, and the midsize GLE-Class will share performance and luxury standards with the E-Class sedan. This funky coupe-styled variation, meanwhile, will represent the GLE family until the standard version, styled more like a traditional SUV, arrives sometime in 2016. Clear enough?

What Is It?
The 2016 GLE Coupe is a five-passenger SUV with four doors, wrapped around a tall, sloped-backed body with a "coupelike" profile. It will have the same length wheelbase as the current ML, but the GLE will be 4 inches longer overall, 5 inches narrower and nearly 3 inches shorter in height.

Given its tapering fastback roof, the GLE Coupe won't likely offer the same kind of rear headroom or cargo capacity as the ML, limiting its utility. It should compensate, however, with an emphasis on suspension tuning and handling performance over the more sedate base model.

What Will Make It Go?
The GLE Coupe's intended target is the BMW X6. That kind of rival calls for a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine under the GLE's hood, producing 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. That almost splits the power difference between the X6's two available engines (300 hp and 445 hp, respectively) and leaves room for an eventual V8-powered GLE model that could make around 500 hp.

The GLE Coupe's V6 will pair with a nine-speed automatic transmission, sending power to a full-time all-wheel-drive system.

The GLE will offer Mercedes' traditional dynamic modes, which adjust engine and suspension settings depending on how much comfort or performance the driver desires. Optional dynamic enhancements will include an adaptive air suspension, variable steering (increases effort and feedback as speeds increase) and adaptive anti-roll technology that suppresses body lean and roll while you're enjoying a twisty road.

Standard 21-inch alloy wheels complete the GLE Coupe's muscular stance, while 22-inch wheels are optional.

What About Trim Levels and Packages?
Initially, the 2016 GLE-Class will only be available as the GLE450 AMG 4Matic Coupe.

The regular GLE-Class -- presumably called the GLE400 -- should arrive sometime in 2016. A high-performance GLE63, with a twin-turbo V8, would follow shortly after.

What's the Interior Like?
The GLE Coupe shares the same future-luxury aesthetics as the E-Class: that is, plenty of leather, soft surfaces and thick stitching to soften the cutting edges of the available personal technology.

The GLE450 AMG 4Matic will feature AMG sport seats and a leather-wrapped, flat-bottom sport steering wheel. A dial controller and touchpad control entertainment, navigation and vehicle settings through an 8-inch tablet-style display affixed to the center console. Multiple color and material combinations are available, with ash, eucalyptus, aluminum and carbon fiber among the available accents and trim.

Other features will include a power tailgate, back-up camera, panoramic sunroof, rear-seat entertainment system and premium Bang & Olufsen audio system.

What Kind of Safety Features Will It Have?
In addition to standard airbags, antilock brakes, and stability and traction control, the 2016 GLE Coupe will offer adaptive cruise control, semi-autonomous braking in emergency situations, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, cross-traffic alert and crosswind alert.

The available Parking package offers a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors and a parallel parking feature that will maneuver the GLE Coupe into a parking space while the driver controls only the accelerator and brakes.

When Can I Get One and What Will It Cost?
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe will arrive in the fall of 2015. It will be made in Mercedes' factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Pricing should start around $66,000, about what BMW asks for its X6, which is still the only direct competitor for the new Mercedes SUV.

If you're drawn to the X6, it's worth the wait to see how Mercedes approaches this unique niche. But if you're just after a sporty SUV, there are several good choices. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne can deliver a daily adrenaline rush while still being more practical for families. If it's the coupelike styling that grabs you, the Audi A7 and the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo offer all-wheel drive and similar-sized interiors.

Check back for more information on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG 4Matic, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.