Select journalists from around the country were invited to join a special driving event and drive (among other vehicles) the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450. The Rocky Mountain Redline Ice Driving Encounter takes place over two days in Winter Park, Colorado and in Georgetown, CO.
Over the two days, journalists drive on snow and ice courses that are extremely slippery. Manufacturers equipped each vehicle, including the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 with winter tires for this event. Professional drivers and racers complement event staff who helped organize the program.
Among the most popular vehicles at the event, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 dazzled with its electronic wizardry. Powerful, capable and luxurious, the GLE 450’s most impressive trick is its 3.0-liter turbocharged, 362 horsepower straight-six engine that makes 369 lb-ft of torque. Some of that power comes from an energy-recuperating EQ Boost system which not only uses recaptured energy for fuel savings, but it adds to power output too.
Among the oodles and oodles of gizmos added to the GLE, E-ACTIVE BODY CONTROL (which allows the vehicle to independently move up and down at all four corners) is a crowd pleaser. Among other benefits, the system is said to assist you getting out of deep snow and mud.
Watching it in action, I can only say that it will make you very popular at the local lowrider’s dance-off. Aside from the 4MATIC all-wheel drive (AWD) system, the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) with voice control and interior assistant gesture control truly stands out.
Combining voice prompts and hand gestures can unlock nearly every task buttons and switches normally do. This takes Mercedes-Benz’s infotainment system from one of the least capable to one of the most advanced. This also creates a new type of learning curve that never existed before.
To be completely honest, I only drove the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 a few times. The vehicle was popular, and I only got to drive it on the snowy performance course. It felt like a taller, more powerful version of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 AWD Coupe I drove to a degree.
The ability to lift and lower the GLE was very helpful on the different courses. Keeping it lower helped with the accelerating/breaking course while lifting it all the way up gave it a more secure feeling when pushing it hard through rutted slalom turns.
With its electronically augmented suspension system on full tilt, the roll, sway and dive of the GLE stayed at a minimum. The brakes were strong, but steering feedback was muted. Still, it had no problem changing direction in even the most slippery of conditions.
All in all, it was a pleasant, yet too brief of a drive. One that gave me just enough time to feel my way around the small SUV, just enough to wet my appetite for more.
The MSRP for the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 starts at $61,150.