While Mercedes is probably the standard by which other areas of the market are measured, it's not quite as established in other areas of the luxury market--like crossovers and SUVs. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE is effectively the new version of the old M-Class, so let's see how it compares to another impressive luxury crossover, the Audi Q7.
Mercedes renamed this vehicle the GLE last year, according to its new naming strategy, and just for good measure gave it a new look as well. The GLE now looks wider, more aggressive, and more car-like than it did as the M-Class, and the focus of the styling seems to be more on-road prowler than traditional SUV. If you're looking for truly sporty, this class also offers a quite stunning coupe version too. The Audi Q7 has not changed a great deal over the years, and it's probably fair to say that it's not a particularly exciting luxury crossover designs. The Q7 looks more like a tall Sportwagon than an SUV, but it has a strong air of quality and presence, especially in darker colors. When it comes down to it, though, the GLE is much more attractive.
Mercedes doesn't do take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to engine options, so you'll have plenty of choice in the GLE. You can find more powerful options, but the standard 3.5-liter V-6 is simply superb with its 302 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. But engines in the GLE do also go as high as 577 horsepower, if you want. Almost shockingly for a German luxury vehicle, Audi only offers one engine in the Q7. It's a pretty good one, though--a high-tech 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 that produces 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. Though the engine is very good indeed and comes mated to an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission, the lack of alternatives gives the win here to the Mercedes.
Mercedes has not tried to squeeze a third row of seats into the GLE, and that plenty of room for up to five adults. The seats are soft and comfortable but still supportive enough in twists and turns, and the quality and luxury throughout the cabin is quite simply off the scale. The GLE is a blueprint for crossover SUV luxury. Audi's Q7 is a bigger vehicle than the GLE, so the third row seat doesn't affect the comfort of those in the first or second rows. The ride is superbly quiet and smooth, even though the Q7 is probably sportier than it's ever been. The quality of fit and materials is outstanding, but the overall feel is a little more austere and utilitarian than the opulence offered by the Mercedes.
Standard equipment in the GLE is impressive, to say the least. It includes: power adjustable heated front seats, Bluetooth®, a power sunroof and a power liftgate, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone climate control, 19-inch alloys, keyless ignition, a rearview camera, and an 8.0-inch display for the infotainment system. You get equally generous amounts of standard features and equipment in the Audi, but if you're prepared to pay more, you can be climbing into a full-size crossover that's almost as technologically advanced as anything you're likely to see in a sci-fi blockbuster these days. Let's just says there's even a night vision system that highlights people and animals with yellow markings on the infotainment display screen, and you get the idea. When it comes to standard and optional equipment and hi-tech features, the Audi is in a class of its own.
Inventory Contact The Audi Q7 is pretty hard to beat if you want a high tech gadget geekfest, and if you need to transport more than five people you'd have to choose it over the five-seat 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLE. However, overall, the Mercedes is a more exciting and desirable model, especially the coupe versions that have performance to match their stunning looks. Nobody is going to be unhappy owning and driving a Q7, but it looks and feels a little mundane at the side of the GLE.