2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43 Test Drive: 7 First Impressions

Our initial thoughts from behind the wheel.

Mercedes-Benz USA

This week, The Drive is out in Los Angeles testing out Mercedes-Benz's lineup of new AMG 43 vehicles.  Rather than deluge you with one massive post on all of them, however, we figured we'd split it up into separate posts with our off-the-cuff first impressions from each car. We already brought you the AMG C43 coupe, the AMG GLC43 Coupe; the C43 sedan, and the E43; now it's time for the AMG GLE43. (It's the model that used to be the M-Class, in case you've forgotten.)

1. The AMG GLC43's face made me realize I'm not a fan of the new "43 Grille." See, the GLE is the only one of the 43s that lacks the single-bar, scattered-dot grille found on all the rest of the models with this powertrain. Which I only realized after staring at it for a good 10 seconds, wondering why I found it so attractive. 

2. The interior looks old. Because it is. The GLE-Class dates back to 2011, which means development began in the late Aughts. As a result, the car's insides clearly come from a different era than the other cars Mercedes-Benz is throwing the AMG 43 engine into. The plethora of buttons, the upright console, the tacked-on infotainment screen—it all screams "old." It still works fine. It's just old.

3. Actually, the whole damn SUV is old. It literally took all of 20 seconds going down a driveway to realize just how truck-like the GLE feels compared with the GLC. 

4. The seats are comfy...but they have the lateral support of a La-Z-Boy. I was bouncing around like a pinball on winding canyon roads.

5. It's quick, not fast. The AMG GLE43 is more than potent enough to get out of its own way, and can probably out-accelerate 95 percent of SUVs and trucks on the road in a straight line. But it doesn't have the batshit, logic-defying performance of a Range Rover Sport SVR—or a GLE63 S, for that matter. And isn't that kinda why people buy performance SUVs?

6. It ain't a fan of the twisties. It tries, damn it, but it's just not made for carving up back roads. It's too tall, too heavy, and too old-fashioned. The GLC-Class does it so much better. 

7. But it is the only one of the AMG 43 family I felt comfortable taking off-road. And I'll be damned if it didn't handle that 100 yards of deep mud and cockeyed hillocks like a pro.