Did I ever mention that I’m a huge fan of EQ Boost?
No, it’s not some kind of testosterone-enhancing energy drink you can buy on the Home Shopping Network. Or a little pill that will increase your IQ and make you smarter than a fifth grader.
It’s actually a super-clever piece of technology that Mercedes-Benz uses in a bunch of its cars and SUVs to increase performance, improve efficiency and add smoothness to its engines.
I’ve just spent a week behind the wheel of an EQ Boosted 2022 Mercedes GLE 450 sport-ute and have to say the tech is pretty impressive.
Excuse me while I get a little “techie” here, but it’s worth explaining how it actually works.
What Mercedes does is squeeze a powerful, combined starter-generator unit between the engine and transmission. This is juiced by 48-volt electrics, rather than the usual 12-volt, which means there’s a lot of power.
So, when you hit the gas from a stop light, or when you want to zip past slower traffic, it instantly adds an extra 22-horsepower and meaty 184 lb-ft of electric torque.
The set-up also includes an electric compressor, which instantly blasts nine pounds of boost to the engine’s turbocharger to eliminate any initial lag, or sluggishness.
It’s kinda like how you’d feel after drinking a triple espresso after a lifetime of decaf; everything just “perks” up.
The other real benefit is to the engine’s “stop-start” function. Instead of the usual judder you get when the engine fires back up, the EQ Boost system takes over and dramatically smooths-out the re-start.
Yes, you could call it a mild-hybrid system, but a better description is electric-assist as the GLE won’t move on electric power alone.
But it really refines the Merc’s performance and power delivery, enhancing the luxury feel of the SUV.
It also really boosts the appeal of this latest GLE, which to me has always been the perfect-sized family hauler, with its spacious seating for five, advanced technology, and combination of comfort, refinement and agility.
Priced from $63,950, this GLE 450 sits pretty much in the middle of the GLE line-up, which kicks off with the four-cylinder turbocharged GLE 350 (from $57,200), and climbs to the potent 429-hp AMG GLE 53 (from $74,150).
Whereas the 350 feels a little under-powered, the 450 with its turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder packing 362-hp, feels just right. Standstill to 60mph sprinting takes just 5.5 seconds coupled with 26mpg highway economy.
While the base 450 does, to me, look a little on the bland side with its old-style grille, our tester came with the so-called AMG Line Exterior package which gives the GLE a tougher, more-assertive look. Not cheap at an extra $3,250, but to me, worth it for the re-shaped grille.
While the same package includes 20-inch rims, an extra $1,100 gets you the very-cool 21-inch rims, with their thin spokes looking like the turbine blades of a jet engine.
Climb aboard and this is where the GLE stands out from rivals like Audi’s Q7, BMW’s X5 and Volvo’s XC90. The design of the interior, the quality of the materials, the fit and finish are all a cut above.
Everything from the glass-screen MBUX infotainment system, to the optional Burmeister surround sound, to the very-cool “Hey, Mercedes” voice control. Really impressive.
And it drives as good as it looks. That inline-6 motor coupled to a Teflon-smooth nine-speed automatic delivers athletic performance coupled with real smoothness and refinement.
Add to that the sure-footedness of standard all-wheel drive together with the smooth-riding comfort of adaptive air suspension.
Yes, Mercedes’ creative and expansive options list can take a $64,000 GLE 450 to almost $80,000. But keep the options in check and this impressive mid-size sport-utility won’t disappoint.