Mercedes-Benz will roll out a new plug-in hybrid with the debut of the revamped GLE midsize crossover.
The redesigned crossover family debuts at the New York International Auto Show next week and will be the first product line to feature Mercedes’ new nomenclature.
The GLE badge replaces the M class, Mercedes’ top-selling light truck in the U.S.
While Mercedes was the first European luxury brand to offer a midsize crossover, in 1997, it has seen a wave of rivals, notably the BMW X5, Acura MDX, Lexus RX, Audi Q5, Porsche Cayenne and Volvo XC90, crowd the market.
U.S. sales of the M class peaked at 52,764 in 2000 and rose 13 percent last year to 46,726.
The 2016 GLE will be available with five powertrain options, including a diesel and the plug-in hybrid.
The new GLE550e 4MATIC has a plug-in hybrid system that uses a lithium ion battery. It has a 329 hp, V-6, direct-injection gasoline engine and an electric engine with 114 hp and peak torque of 479 pounds feet. It can drive 18.6 miles on a full charge.
The hybrid can run solely on the electric drive at speeds up to 81 mph. Four different modes of driving can be engaged. The hybrid has a seven-speed automatic transmission. It goes on sale in mid-September.
In addition, Mercedes is launching the four-cylinder GLE300d 4MATIC all-wheel-drive diesel and the V-6 GLE350 and GLE 400 gasoline models available with optional all-wheel drive. Two V-8 high-performance models will also debut: the Mercedes-AMG GLE63 and GLE63S. These models go on sale in August.
No pricing has been disclosed.
The GLE gets various Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive passive and active safety systems that are options or standard, depending on the model. The Dynamic Select handling system for off-road driving is standard on the base model.
“State-of-the-art and efficient drive technology, combined with superior ride quality and the versatility and robustness typical for SUVs -- the new GLE has all the ingredients to continue the success story of our best seller,” said Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes-Benz board member for sales and marketing.
No sheet metal has been changed. The GLE features new headlamps and taillights, as well as changes to the front and rear bumpers.
Inside, the media display has been partially integrated into the instrument cluster. Other minor interior cosmetic changes have also been made and new color/trim combinations have been added.
Mercedes introduced the GLE Coupe at the Detroit auto show in January. It has four doors and a coupelike roofline. It goes on sale in August and will compete primarily with the BMW X6, now in its second generation.