There's a secret about the current crop of SUVs that we don't often talk about. The truth is many of them are underpowered. The current trend is towards larger SUVs, and every automaker wants to deliver a safe vehicle. That means more weight. They also need to meet fuel economy standards, and that means compromising on engine power. They can make some of this up with 6-speed or 8-speed transmissions, but if you want performance, you'll be disappointed with many SUVs.
One exception to that rule is the 2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE43. AMG is Mercedes' in-house performance tuning division. Their version of the GLE is a midsize SUV with a twin-turbo V6 engine good for 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. That's good enough for a 5.6-second sprint from a standing stop to 60 miles per hour. The AMG GLE comes with a 9-speed 9G-Tronic transmission, also developed by AMG for performance, and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
Not only is the AMG GLE43 fast, it will tow up to 7,200 pounds. So your camper, boat, or ATVs are well within the margin for this vehicle. AMG has also worked their magic on the suspension, brakes, and even the AWD system, which has a 40:60 front to rear torque split, so you will always get a sports-oriented driving experience. The AMG GLE features AMG Dynamic Select driving modes for Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Snow conditions. Twisting the dial up to Sport or Sport+ sharpens up throttle response, shifting, suspension, steering, and braking.
Inside the AMG GLE, you'll enjoy every luxury feature that Mercedes offers, including well-made leather upholstery, available in an attractive saddle brown color, and a panoramic sunroof. The GLE offers 38.2 cubic feet of cargo area while carrying four passengers, or 80.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. You get Mercedes navigation and a surround-view camera system. The infotainment system supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you get USB, aux jack, Bluetooth inputs, and satellite radio.
On the road, the AMG GLE is fast and comfortable. There's always power under your foot and a confident road stance. I took the SUV out to the coast for a day and it was a delightful drive. I arrived feeling fresh and the AMG GLE never even broke a sweat.
Of course, there's a price tag attached to all this. You're looking at $68,075 with fees to get into this vehicle. It's well-equipped at that price, but by the time you add some goodies like front seat ventilation, the trailer package, 21-inch wheels and a few more things, you can easily top $80,000 in this SUV. But if you've got the cash, the 2017 AMG GLE43 is an excellent choice.
2017 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE43
Base price: $68,075
Price as tested: $83,745
Type: Midsize crossover SUV
Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 (362 hp, 384 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: 17/23
Overall length: 190 inches
Curb weight: 4,987 pounds
Final assembly: Vance, Alabama