Hybrid SUV plug-in coming from Mercedes this fall

SUV hybrid plug-ins are new territory for Mercedes, which will launch its 2016 GLE 550e in the fall. In addition to its first ever hybrid plug-in SUV, Mercedes has released details of the full range of 2016 GLE models. 

Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters/File
The Mercedes GLE 450 AMG Coupe on display during the first press day ahead of the 85th International Motor Show in Geneva. The 2016 GLE line will include the automaker's first plug-in hybrid SUV, which will be available for purchase this fall.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE may seem like a new model, but in fact it's the renamed sport-utility vehicle we used to know as the ML-Class.

And the company has released details of the full range of 2016 GLE models, including its first-ever plug-in hybrid SUV, to be known as the GLE 550e.

It's the third plug-in hybrid in the range, after the 2015 S 550 Plug-In Hybrid (shortly to go on sale in California) and the 2016 C 350e (for which we'll release driving impressions shortly).

The powertrain of the GLE 550e comprises a 329-hp V-6 engine with a 85-kilowatt (114 hp) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and an adapted version of the company's seven-speed automatic transmission.

Total power output from the two systems working together is quoted at 436 hp. Maximum torque is a substantial 479 lb-ft.

This powertrain is quite similar to that used in the plug-in hybrid S-Class sedan, while that of the smaller C 350e pairs the electric motor with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine instead.

Mercedes-Benz hasn't yet released U.S. ratings for the plug-in GLE's electric range or fuel efficiency.

On the more lenient NEDC European test cycle, it achieves up to 30 km (18.6 miles) of all-electric range.

Meanwhile, its fuel consumption figures on the same cycle are even lower than those of the GLE 200d diesel four-cylinder version (which won't be offered in the States).

As with the other plug-in hybrids, drivers can select from among Hybrid mode (the default), E-Mode (which provides all-electric travel up to 81 mph), E-Save (which conserves battery charge for later use), and Charge (which uses the engine to charge the battery, an inefficient but convenient way to travel on all-electric power later in your trip).

The 8.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is located under the rear load deck.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 550e will go on sale this September, roughly a month after the launch of the rest of the new GLE-Class range.

Pricing has not yet been released.

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