NEW YORK AUTO SHOW

    2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV replaces ML, adds plug-in hybrid

    Name change is the first of many for Mercedes SUVs.

    Last updated: April 03, 2015 05:00 PM

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    Mercedes-Benz has followed Infiniti and Cadillac by renaming large parts of its model line. Making its world debut at the 2015 New York auto show is the GLE, formerly known as the ML. Following the introduction of the GLE Coupe version at the Detroit Auto Show, the GLE line has been revised and upgraded compared with the ML.

    The future GLE lineup includes the GLE350 (formerly ML350); GLE400 (formerly ML400); GLE300d (formerly ML250 BlueTec) and GLE550e (Mercedes' first plug-in SUV). The high-performance AMG models are now called AMG GLE63 and GLE63 S.

    The plug-in is clearly in New York's hot spotlight. It gets a 329-hp V6, with the hybrid system adding another 114 hp of electric power. The torque rating is also a very chunky 479 lb.-ft. Hence, Mercedes posits that the GLE550e will have quick acceleration. Fuel economy numbers were not disclosed.

    Mercedes says this plug-in will deliver over 18 miles of all-electric driving. The electric juice is stored in a lithium-ion battery and can be recharged using public charging stations, an available home charger, or on a conventional 220-volt power outlet. Mercedes says the charging time using the home charger or charging station is around two hours.

    The GLE550e also comes with a switch that lets the driver choose between four operating modes. There is regular hybrid mode; all-electric mode; "E-SAVE," (which allows you to preserve the battery's current state of charge for future all-electric mode), like in stop-and-go traffic; and charge mode when the vehicle is parked.

    Other SUV choices for green-minded buyers include the company's 201-hp four-cylinder diesel, dubbed GLE300d. Again, Mercedes didn't announce any fuel economy figures, but, according to the EPA, the 2015 ML diesel returned 25 mpg overall.

    The hot rod AMG models muscle a 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 engine under the hood, belting out 550 hp in the GLE63 and 577 hp in the GLE63 S. Mercedes says the chassis was revised to deliver "even better driving dynamics and agility." The AMG models also have a special transfer case for their all-wheel drive systems that allows them to split the torque at a ratio of 40:60 between the front and rear axles. No surprise: these beasts' EPA mpg numbers in the company's press release were not mentioned.

    The GLE's interior is treated to the usual Mercedes attention to detail, including standard aluminum trim, available black piano lacquer or various grains of wood. AMG models can be fitted with carbon-fiber trim.

    Available safety equipment for all versions includes crosswind assist; collision prevention assist; cross-traffic alert; blind-spot detection; and lane-keeping assist. You can also opt for a 360-degree view camera and LED lights.

    The new GLE hits showrooms this August.

    —Mike Quincy

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