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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE breaks cover

by Ronan Glon

More tech and a sharper design highlight the changes.

Mercedes-Benz has introduced the all-new 2020 GLE online after a brief teaser campaign. The SUV will make its public debut in October at the biennial Paris auto show.

The GLE wears a sharper evolution of Mercedes' current design language. It's recognizable as a Mercedes and also immediately identifiable as a member of the M-Class/GLE family tree thanks to the distinctive shape of its C-pillar. It's a styling cue that has defined the model since it made its debut as the M-Class in 1997.

The interior receives the high-tech dual-screen setup found on other Mercedes models, like the E-Class and the recently-unveiled EQC. Designers took advantage of the longer wheelbase to develop a bigger interior with six-way power-adjustable second-row seats and available third-row seats. Gesture control technology offered at an extra cost lets the front passengers access some of the infotainment system's functions and plus a handful of other features like the reading lights.

The entry-level GLE 350 comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to make 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It spins the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can order Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive at an extra cost.

Next up in the hierarchy is the GLE 450, which packs a turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight-six engine rated at 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The six works with a compact electric motor that provides a 21-horsepower boost for short bursts of time. All-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission both come standard.

The 350 and the 450 will be the only two models available at launch. It's reasonable to assume the line-up will grow with the addition of a plug-in hybrid, a mid-range AMG-badged model, and a full-blown AMG-developed variant with a V8 between the fenders.

The 450's 48-volt electrical system also powers an electric suspension that keeps body roll, pitch, and squat in check. And, surprisingly, the suspension can help the GLE automatically rock itself free if it gets bogged down in a sand dune or a mud pit.

Mercedes-Benz will build the GLE in Alabama. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to its spring 2019 market launch.