Mercedes SUVs

Struggling to choose between the eight different Mercedes SUVs? Our guide will let you know your GLA from your GLE

John Evans
Sep 12, 2018

You might have decided on buying a Mercedes SUV, but that's just the start of the challenge.

There are no less than eight different sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) to choose from, starting with the little GLA, which is really a crossover. It shares its mechanical parts with the A-Class hatchback, but combines them with the taller driving position of an off-roader.

There are sportier models, gargantuan ones, a new electric model and one that combines go-anywhere off-roading ability with the interior - and price - of a luxury car. Just one is available with seven seats, although that will change next year with the arrival of the all-new GLE

To add to the complication, Mercedes renamed its SUVs in 2015. Most of their names now start with GL, followed by a letter to indicate their size. So the GLA offers a similar level of equipment and passenger legroom as the A-Class hatchback, while the next largest - the GLC - is the SUV equivalent of the C-Class, and so on. Then there are two exceptions: the G-Class and electric EQC.

Confused? Scroll down for our guide to each model, or click to jump straight to the SUV that you like.


Mercedes SUVs

Mercedes GLA

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for tight parking spaces

Less good for conquering challenging terrain

Latest Mercedes GLA deals from £14,899
Finance from £209 per month

Mercedes' GLA is the company’s smallest SUV. It’s really a crossover, because it uses the mechanical parts from the A-Class, in a car that’s taller and a little more rugged, with a higher driving position.

Some versions have four-wheel drive but don't expect to go too far off-road since the car isn't high enough from the ground. Seats are lower than in rival cars such as the Mini Countryman, Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

The interior is much like that of the previous-generation A-Class, with a tablet-size touchscreen jutting above the curved dashboard. It comes with features including a reversing camera and a keyless start button as standard. The extra practicality of the GLA is obvious in the boot where there is 481 litres of space, which is 140 litres more luggage capacity than the A-Class hatchback, but 24 litres less than the BMW X1.
Mercedes GLA buying guide


Mercedes GLC

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for comfort, practicality and compact size

Less good for sporty driving feel

Latest Mercedes GLC deals from £26,000
Finance from £355 per month

The Mercedes GLC is the size of a Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga but offers more comfort and luxury - much like similarly-sized cars such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

It feels less nimble as sporty than these rivals, but has the edge when it comes to comfort - arguably more important in a car. When fitted with optional air suspension, the GLC glides over bumps and potholes, while the nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and helps keep the economical diesel engines quiet.

Those in need of a little more interior space or seven seats might want to consider the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but for those happy to travel relatively light, the Mercedes GLC is perfectly practical. For more performance, there’s the 362bhp AMG GLC 43, but its rivals include the Jaguar F-Pace and sporty Porsche Macan, both of which will appeal more to thrill-seekers.
Mercedes GLC buying guide


Mercedes GLC Coupe

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for cutting a stylish dash

Less good for taller rear passengers

 Latest Mercedes GLC Coupe deals from £23,980
Finance from £348 per month

Swoopy, sporty, coupe-like styling means the Mercedes GLC Coupe is capitalising on one of the more unlikely trends: combining a tall SUV with the design and sporty driving experience of a coupe. Its competition is the similarly curved BMW X4.

It’s longer, lower and wider than the standard GLC. Because the underneath of the car is closer to the ground, it’s more likely to get scraped or even stuck on rugged ground, making it more suited to the tarmac than off-road.

Inside, the GLC Coupe shares the same hi-tech and well-built interior as the GLC. However, there is less room in the back seats and the boot thanks to that curved roof.
Mercedes GLC Coupe buying guide


Mercedes EQC

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for emissions-free motoring

Less good for value for money

You'll probably have to wait until early 2020 to get your hands on a British-specification EQC but Mercedes says that it's worth the wait for this all-electric SUV, which is said to have a range of 280 miles between charges.

It has been designed from the ground up as an electric car. This means that the car should be extremely spacious, without the need to accommodate an engine and its related mechanical parts. The batteries are located low down underneath the floor, which reduces the effect of their weight in corners and maximises interior space.

However, the EQC faces tough competition from the likes of the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron SUVs, especially as reaction to the car's design has been underwhelming and the expected price of more than £60,000 is expensive for a car that's little larger than the GLC.


Mercedes GLE

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for carrying bulky loads

Less good for those with shallow pockets

 Latest Mercedes GLE deals from £35,980
Finance from £465 per month

The Mercedes GLE was called the M-Class until it was updated and renamed in 2015. It’s one of the oldest models in the Mercedes line-up because it’s based on a car that was launched in 2011, and you can tell: it's interior is more cluttered with buttons than the latest models; the design is more angular than newer Mercedes SUVs; and it's less comfortable than some rivals.

That's why an all-new version of the GLE has just been revealed. It will arrive in Britain early next year, promising a vast improvement over the outgoing car. It should also lead to larger discounts on the current GLE, which does still have some appeal: Just as the compact GLC offers a similar amount of legroom and equipment as the C-Class saloon, the bigger GLE is similar to the larger E-class saloon and estate range. And as you’d expect of a larger SUV, there is acres of space in the GLE, especially in the boot.

It does lack seven seats, which are offered by rivals, including the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, which are cheaper than the GLE as well.
Mercedes GLE buying guide


Mercedes GLE Coupe

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for adding glamour to your drive

Less good for looking out of the rear window

 Latest Mercedes GLE Coupe deals from £37,945
Finance from £476 per month

The Mercedes GLE Coupe is very much the glamorous end of the Mercedes SUV range, providing a beautifully built, upmarket interior, plenty of luxury gadgets and distinctive styling. There’s no budget end to the big car, either – your only diesel option is a big 3-litre diesel, which is around £5,000 more expensive than the equivalent BMW X6.

Other models include the petrol-powered Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S. This last produces a colossal 585 horsepower – as much as many supercars – but comes with an equally colossal price of around £100,000 - before any Mercedes GLE Coupe discounts.

The downsides are a swooping roofline that severely limits rearward visibility, and a ride that’s slightly on the firm side.


Mercedes GLS

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for seven people - and their luggage

Less good for poky parking spaces

Latest Mercedes GLS deals from £42,430
Finance from £510 per month

SUVs don’t come much bigger – or plusher – than the GLS. In fact, Mercedes calls it the “S-Class of SUVs”, linking it clearly to Mercedes’ own S-Class limousine. It’s certainly luxuriously appointed inside and provides ample room for up to seven occupants, while its ride is smooth and comfortable.

Unfortunately for the GLS, compared with rivals such as the Range Rover and smaller seven-seat cars like the Volvo XC90, it’s beginning to feel dated inside and is significantly more expensive. In fact, the GLS’s price tag puts it right in the heart of Range Rover territory, which plays the part of super-luxury SUV somewhat better than the GLS.


Mercedes G-Class

✔  Best Mercedes SUV for off-road expditions

Less good for soothing long journeys

Originally created as a rugged off-roader for the German army way back in 1979, the G-Class has since morphed into a glitzy go-anywhere luxury car. These days, instead of being driven by soldiers, it’s more likely to be bought by rap artists, professional footballers and anybody with a fair bit of cash and an extrovert personality.

You’ll struggle to see its utilitarian roots when you step inside. It’s more private jet than Saving Private Ryan: rear-seat entertainment, electric everything and digital radio are all available.

But its boxy looks cover a tall, sturdy and sophisticated machine that’s seriously capable off-road. If you really need to tackle the rough stuff, then this is easily the best Mercedes. That off-road ability comes at a bit of a price, though – the G-Class suffers from an uncomfortable ride and a lot of wind noise at higher speeds, but the latest 2018 model is a big improvement over the previous-generation version.


Mercedes SUVs coming soon

2019 Mercedes GLE

The new Mercedes GLE might share a name with the car that it replaces but it hasn't carried much else over from its ageing predecessor.

All-new engines and hybrid technology bring claims of much-improved fuel economy, and it has been made longer between the wheels to increase space for passengers. In fact, there's now enough room for a seven-seat option to be offered, matching rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and Audi Q7. Without the third row of seats, the 825 litre boot is bigger than you'll find in the BMW or Audi.

Mercedes' increasingly-common widescreen display will be fitted, with two 12.3in screens stretching from the driver's door to the middle of the dashboard and there's also the gimmicky option of gesture control that allows you to change a radio station, fior example, by pointing at the screen.

Advanced air suspension will be available - at a price. It's linked to a forward facing camera that monitors the road surface, and  controls each wheel individually, adjusting them for potholes and road bumps a split second before the car drives over them. It can also lean into corners like a tilting train. Mercedes claims that this suspension dewlivers excellent levels of comfort and nimblenesss in corners.

Prices for the car are due to be announced this autumn before it arrives in Britain early next year.


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