2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class First Drive: A Ph.D. In SUV

Cars are getting smarter, as noted by the plethora of advanced safety systems and futuristic infotainment displays you can get on vehicles as lowly as the Honda Civic. But the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class isn’t just smart – it put in late nights at the library, read up on advanced theory, and wiped the floor with its dissertation. It’s the Einstein of SUVs.

Style-wise, the outgoing GLE’s refined, sharp proportions are swapped with a much softer tone. The grille is larger, the Mercedes tri-star logo is still located front and center, and depending on the trim, the GLE’s maw wears either a single, central chrome bar or a pair of them.

The body itself is stouter than the previous model – wider by half an inch and longer by four inches – and more rugged, too. The base model wears plastic fenders that give it a more robust appearance, perfect for soft-roading. It’s a fine-looking SUV, but a little too safe. At least the outgoing model had some sharp angles to offset its more generic design elements.

Bland is not a word you would associate with the GLE’s cabin, though. It’s just the second Merc in the States (after the A-Class sedan) to adopt the advanced MBUX infotainment system. And we welcome the changeover. The new 12.3-inch screens are beautiful. The graphics are crisp and clean, and the layout itself is hugely improved. We don’t miss the dial con...