Here we have an example of a large PHEV SUV from Mercedes the GLE 350de, which, unlike most PHEVs that opt for a petrol/electric drivetrain, the GLE 350de is a diesel/electric drivetrain. On the electric side of things, the GLE 350de is fitted with a 31kWh battery which is huge by current PHEV standards. It can therefore achieve a WTLP electric-only range of 56 miles. On top of that, the GLE 350de has an official towing capacity of 2,700kg. Therefore, the GLE 350de directly competes with the BMW X5 45e.
Mercedes GLE 350de Key Specs
- Official Towing Capacity – 2,700 kg
- Availability – Now
- Price – Starting £67,260
- Official MPG – 404
- Real-World MPG (Fuel Only) – 35 (NextGreenCar)
- Official EV Range – 56 miles
- Real-World EV Range – 39 miles (70% of Official)
- Maximum Charge Rate/Time – 3kW/7 Hours, 7kW/3.5 Hours & 60kW DC/20 mins
Mercedes GLE 350de HP & Torque
- AWD: Combined output of 316 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque
- 2L Diesel Engine: 286 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque
- Electric Motor: 134 HP and 324 lb-ft of torque
Mercedes GLE 350de Towing Capabilities
A 2,700kg towing capacity means the Mercedes GLE 350de can tow pretty much most caravans you will find on UK roads today, though it would struggle with a large Airstream as an example.
As the combined power output of the GLE 350de is over 300 horsepower and the torque figure is in excess of 500 foot-pounds it has more than enough performance to comfortably tow a trailer up to 2,700kg.
In fact, the electric torque alone is over 300 foot-pounds which is a lot of pulling power from the electric motor alone. Can the GLE 350de tow very far though on electric energy alone? No, but that’s not the point of PHEVs as electric tow cars.
Mercedes GLE 350de Real World EV Range and MPG
As I discuss in my article on the pros and cons of BEVs vs PHEVs when it comes to vehicles such as the Mercedes GLE 350de you need to be realistic about the miles per gallon when towing, especially if the battery is empty.
With an empty battery while towing forget the official MPG figure of 404, in fact, just forget that figure altogether. As I reference above from the NextGreenCar once the battery is empty when towing for a relatively short distance at speed for instance the real-world MPG will be somewhere below 35.
What about when not towing and the car is used for commuting etc? Well, the official pure electric range of 56 miles (real-world 39 miles) is practical and should cover many peoples needs.
In terms of charging the battery, it can be done in 7 hours from a standard 3-pin plug and 3.5 hours from a dedicated 7kW EV charger. The GLE 350de can even use rapid chargers and pull 60kW to recharge the battery in 20 minutes.
However, personally, even if a PHEV can rapid charge I would encourage owners not to unless they are in the car and are willing to give up the charging space for a BEV that needs it. That’s good charging etiquette.
Mercedes GLE 350de Review
Below is a very in-depth review of the GLE 350de from the channel Autogefühl, however, be warned its a 50-minute video. However, if this is an electric tow car you are seriously interested in its at least worse a skim through.
Mercedes GLE 350de vs BMW X5 45e
As I stated in the intro, the GLE 350de competes directly against the BMW X5 45e, they are both large PHEV SUVs that can tow 2,700kg, so are there any notable differences between them?
Well, with the starting price, the BMW X5 45e comes in a bit cheaper from £64,745 whereas the Mercedes GLE 350de starts from £67,260. So how do they compare on power/torque?
The X5 has the edge with combined output figures with 394 HP and 600 lb-ft of torque, and the 3L petrol engine within the BMW beats the Mercedes on both power and torque. However, I will note that the electric motor within the GLE 350de does produce considerably more torque at 324 lb-ft compared to that in the X5 at 195 lb-ft.
When it comes to the pure electric range they are actually very closely matched with the official WLTP figure for the BMW at 54 miles and the Mercedes offering slightly more at 56 miles. Some media outlets claim 66 miles for the Mercedes GLE 350de, however, that’s the NEDC figure which is very unrealistic.
The odd thing about the pure electric range is you would think the Mercedes would offer a lot more than the BMW. The GLE 350de is fitted with a 31kWh battery and the X5 45e is fitted with a 24kWh battery. Hence, you would think that a 7kWh difference would provide more range than an extra 2 miles?!
My Thoughts On The Mercedes GLE 350de…
While the Mercedes GLE 350de is a very high spec/posh PHEV SUV and the official pure electric range of 56 miles is useable/practical for many peoples daily needs (when not towing), I do think it struggles to compete against its closest direct rival the BMW X5 45e.
First off, the BMW is cheaper by several thousand pounds and when it comes to towing its 3L petrol engine produces more power and more torque than the 2L diesel found in the Mercedes.
Furthermore, the real-world MPG figure when running on an empty battery is better on the BMW (38 MPG) compared to the Mercedes (35 MPG). As both vehicles have the same towing capacity, it would appear the BMW is the more competent tow car.
What I find really odd though about the Mercedes GLE 350de is the EV range of only 56 miles compared to the BMW X5 45e at 54 miles. From a 31kWh battery pack, that’s not that impressive, and I suspect that it points to the usable capacity of the battery being significantly less than 31kWh.
For reference, a Toyota RAV4 or Suzuki Across PHEV has an official range of 46 miles from only an 18kWh battery. Yes, the RAV4 PHEV is a lighter vehicle (1,995kg) compared to the GLE 350de (2,690kg). However, it still indicates the usable battery capacity of the GLE 350de is either much smaller than 31kWh stated or the car is much less efficient.