2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43 Review: A dad bod that can keep up

– Malibu, California

Ace photographer Michael Shaffer directs me to turn off Pacific Coast Highway onto Decker Canyon Road, promising that it’s a great driving route and recalling the time he rode shotgun down here in a Ferrari 458 Italia. This time, however, I’m driving him in a Mercedes-AMG GLE43. Even with dozens of AMG tweaks – and they are extremely effective – this is still a big vehicle for such a narrow, twisty road. The GLE43 sounds great, goes like the clappers, and exhibits remarkable control around bends, but there’s no denying that it measures more than 15 feet long and weighs 4,987 pounds.

This gets to the heart of the dilemma posed by the GLE43. It’s an incredible performer, but is that what you really what from your big family crossover?

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Pros

No-fear handling. The only reason I’m being so nervous on Decker Canyon Road is because of the GLE43’s width, length, and weight, not because its chassis doesn’t have the chops to keep up. Very little roll or pitch is evident in hard cornering, with the stiff air suspension keeping the GLE in check no matter how hard I push. Wide tires (265/45R20s all around) provide plenty of grip, and standard 4Matic all-wheel drive keeps things hooked up no matter how early you lay into the throttle.

Sports-car soundtrack. It takes a lot to make a six-cylinder crossover sound this exciting, b...