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Old 08-02-2019, 03:33 PM   #1
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Question 2020 Mercedes GLE 350 vs. GLE 450

Hi. I am new to this forum and looking for the best vehicle to tow my (soon to be) Airstream Bambi with a gross weight of 4,700 lbs. I am absolutely sold on the 2020 Mercedes GLE and I am trying to decide between the GLE 350 with a 255-HP turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder and the GLE 450 with a 363 HP 3.0L inline 6-cylinder. I was surprised to see that both rated at the same 7,700 lbs. towing capacity. I am trying to make an educated decision on which model to buy for long cross-country trips including mountainous terrains. Will the 350 struggle in the mountains? Will the 450 with more horsepower and torque actually provide better gas mileage when towing? My sales guy was worthless answering these questions so I am hoping current Mercedes and Airstream owners can provide valuable insight to guide my decision. Thanks!
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Old 08-02-2019, 04:06 PM   #2
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First, welcome and great choice in the 2020 GLE; a really nice vehicle which has been upgraded significantly over the previous model.

I don't have any experience towing with the GLE but my wife does drive a 2018 GLC 300 4matic which has a 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo similar to the one in the GLE 350. As you probably know, the newest version of this engine in the GLE makes 14 more HP but the same torque as the engine in the GLC 300. It provides good performance in the 4000lb GLC but the new GLE is almost 1000lbs heavier so the 4 cylinder will be working a little harder. Add in 3000-3500 lbs for a loaded Bambi and you'll be asking even more.

I'm not suggesting that the GLE350 won't work, just that the 450 might provide a more relaxed towing experience, especially in the mountains. This is just me, but for the $5K price delta between the two models and because towing is involved I personally would pick the 450. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-02-2019, 04:43 PM   #3
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Have sport 22 with GL 450 and it is powerful and smooth. I bought it for daily driver and tow. Going up to Mammoth from Bishop it wanted to go faster than i wanted and saw that, with AC on, it started to get warmer so i keep it at 45 and passed some SOBs behind trucks. I would prefer the 450 over 350 for power
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Old 08-03-2019, 11:25 AM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. The 450 seems like the most sensible option. I was doubtful of the climbing ability of the 350 and it’s nice to hear the 450 conquers mountains with no problem.
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Old 08-04-2019, 10:09 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitchch56 View Post
Thanks for the feedback. The 450 seems like the most sensible option. I was doubtful of the climbing ability of the 350 and it’s nice to hear the 450 conquers mountains with no problem.
Just to note (and I am being general so undoubtedly others will correct me with details) that towing capacity is often more a function of things like frame strength, suspension and brakes than HP, which is probably why the towing capacity is the same with the two different engines.

Have fun! The GLE has always been at the top of my SUV list and the Bambi should be good package for a couple.
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Old 08-04-2019, 11:59 AM   #6
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Both have a 9 speed transmission, but I will bet you will find the 350 hunting gears way more often. With 100 less hp and nearly 100 less lb-ft of torque, the 350 may get you there, but it's gonna wind out way higher and that means wear and tear. and the acceleration of the 350 is pretty lousy unloaded... Not mentioned was the fact that the inline 6, which is inherently more torquey than the older V6, is augmented with the EQ boost electric motor. That gives even more torque when you need it... Hands down an improvement on all older MB 450 models. I say go for it!

While the EQ system does not get you anything significant in terms of electric only propulsion, it does allow coasting with the engine off esp when coming to a stop. It has a small battery and it is primarily used to power all the things that used to be powered by belts from the engine in addition to powering the electric boost motor that is incorporated into the transmission. By taking that load off the engine (like AC which is now electric motor driven and the alternator because it uses the electric motor as a starter and generator) you instantly have more reserve power available for things like climbing hills. Think about it. And the battery is self charging from regenerative sources so you never have to plug in... It's what they call a mild hybrid.
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Old 11-04-2019, 08:31 AM   #7
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Just curious as to whether anyone has any experience towing with the 2020 GLE 450 or 2020 GLS 450 with the driver assistance package. Need to know how it performs and whether the safety equipment (like Active Blind spot assist and Distronic) perform OK towing an Airstream. Have looked on the MBWORLD.ORG forums but no feedback on towing performance. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tomzstream View Post
Just curious as to whether anyone has any experience towing with the 2020 GLE 450 or 2020 GLS 450 with the driver assistance package. Need to know how it performs and whether the safety equipment (like Active Blind spot assist and Distronic) perform OK towing an Airstream. Have looked on the MBWORLD.ORG forums but no feedback on towing performance. Thanks in advance.
Lane Keep and Blind Spot Assist are deactivated while towing. Distronic still works. The only experience quoted regarding towing is from MBWorld user towing a boat, which I cannot find again. I have a GLS580 on order ETA Christmas and have been watching for any info on towing experience for this new model.
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Old 11-11-2019, 06:24 PM   #9
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We pulled the trigger on a new GLS 450 with trailer hitch today. It was built just one week ago! It drives like a dream. Pretty much loaded with driver assistance plus and a few other goodies. Traded in our 2016 Silverado, fresh out of the repair shop for some warranty work related to the fuel management system. Between that and the transmission flush work done a year or so ago, it just didn't inspire confidence enough to tow the 23 ft Serenity.

So now we are in search of advice on installing a brake controller. Anyone familiar with the wiring on the 2020, or have a favorite controller? Also looking for advice in setting up our existing Reese WD hitch. Dealer was not sure if we should be using WD on this rig. We do not currently have the anti-sway option installed on the trailer and I think the GLS should handle that chore by itself pretty well.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-12-2019, 08:03 AM   #10
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I use Prodigy RF on my 22 Sport with 2016 450 GL. Great TV
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Old 11-13-2019, 06:44 AM   #11
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Garfish, Looking to do the same. I like the handheld remote, a lot easier than bending down to adjust or activate the under dash units. Besides, I don't want to interfere with the knee bag. We have a 23 FB Serenity which should be pretty similar to your's weight wise (450 or so TW). What setting are you using?
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Old 11-13-2019, 06:52 AM   #12
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Look at the Curt Echo brake controller. No need to hard wire in a controller anymore, it works great.
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Old 11-14-2019, 10:06 AM   #13
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Prodigy set at 6
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:23 PM   #14
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Look at the Curt Echo brake controller. No need to hard wire in a controller anymore, it works great.
Yep,similar to the prodigy RF and quite a bit less expensive, but the 7 pin socket in the GLS is under the bumper and worse yet, angles down at about 45 degrees! I don't want anything extending out further than the usual umbilical. I am afraid it will get whacked by road hazards or off road hazards. Thanks for the suggestion! I do like the idea of not using the truck wiring.
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Old 11-14-2019, 01:30 PM   #15
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Looked at lots of in cab options and just not comfortable with mounting such a unit under the dash (knee bags there) and really no good cubby to put it in. They really dropped the ball on the latter. In fact, there is a fake vent in the middle of the dash to the right of the MBUX display that would have worked famously as a slot for such a unit... They really ought to offer an integrated unit and put it there. Missing that on my Silverado. But I towed about ten miles today w/o brakes just to bring the unit to the house and everything was fine. Waiting on the Prodigy RF from Amazon. Loving the GLS 450.
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Old 11-17-2019, 02:55 PM   #16
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Look at the Curt Echo brake controller. No need to hard wire in a controller anymore, it works great.


The Curt control is not really close to the Prodigy in braking performance. It is simply time actuated instead of inertia activated. Also when I tested it an incoming phone call interrupted the brake activation.
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Old 11-17-2019, 03:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by mitchch56 View Post
Hi. I am new to this forum and looking for the best vehicle to tow my (soon to be) Airstream Bambi with a gross weight of 4,700 lbs. I am absolutely sold on the 2020 Mercedes GLE and I am trying to decide between the GLE 350 with a 255-HP turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder and the GLE 450 with a 363 HP 3.0L inline 6-cylinder. I was surprised to see that both rated at the same 7,700 lbs. towing capacity. I am trying to make an educated decision on which model to buy for long cross-country trips including mountainous terrains. Will the 350 struggle in the mountains? Will the 450 with more horsepower and torque actually provide better gas mileage when towing? My sales guy was worthless answering these questions so I am hoping current Mercedes and Airstream owners can provide valuable insight to guide my decision. Thanks!


From a power standpoint, the turbo 4 is more than adequate. I wouldn’t be concerned at all about towing in the mountains.

There are some unknowns, however, regarding its effectiveness in highway towing, especially since we typically tow at higher speeds in North America than in Europe.

The major question: how much boost will be needed to maintain, e.g. 65 mph? Following from this, how high will exhaust gas temperature rise? What effect will running with constant boost have on fuel economy? And would you be better off running in a lower gear, keeping revs above 3000 to make the required power without using much boost?

We have a lack of real world experience with all this. The results might be excellent, especially given how the Ford Ecoboost performs in the F150s, but more certainty would be nice.

From this vantage point, the extra $5000 for the six cylinder seems reasonable.
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Old 11-18-2019, 05:49 AM   #18
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Yes, having real world feedback would be nice to have before purchasing. All I can offer on the 450 is a brief encounter with my 23ft International Serenity FB as I only towed it 25 miles or so each way to retrieve it for winterizing.

But what is really cool is the Info screen (actually several of them) that shows the Engine and powertrain vitals. Real time HP output on a horizontal sliding scale (upper left), Real Time Torque output on the upper right, Transmission temp on a vertical scale on the left and Oil on the right, Voltage lower left, MPGs on the right and more! Really useful info while you are traveling. And there is an option to look at Real Time MPG in the display with the odometer and Speedometer (or whatever you choose to show there.) I won't try to describe my own performance too much as I was on level ground the whole way other than a couple of entrance ramps to I-95. But I will say that you can monitor the electric motor's contribution to the torque and it's amazing. We averaged around 13-14 MPG, but again this is not a real test.

No problem merging and passing at any speed. Lots of reserve which actually shows up on the display (wish I had taken a video).

I estimate my tongue weight to be 500 lbs or so and the trailer to be around 5000 with the tanks all empty. I set up my reese to provide a minimal WD given this vehicle is self leveling and what's really nice, you can manually adjust the ride height so adjusting the hitch, real time is a breeze! I keep the vehicle in the lowest setting for highway cruising, but is can be lifted several inches for rough roads too. I do not use sway control, as this vehicle, and my prior one both have ESP with sway control built in. I did try a little runoff the road test at 60 MPH and it responded very well... My wife, not so much. The lane keeping and BLIS do shut off as soon as you connect the umbilical, but the lane keeping simply loses its active component, in other words, it still bumps the steering wheel as if going over thumpers.

The load capacity is only a little over 1400 so we'll need to watch our loading (me my wife and two medium dogs), but the older we get the more we like to do glamping, and with this new vehicle, we fit the part. lol

The space required for the Prodigy RF was a bit of a concern, but I ended up putting it partially under the propane box, just forward toward the coupler mount. It paired OK after a couple of tries... Lots of electronic gizmos and near field phone chargers in this vehicle so that was a concern. But it works well with the TV braking system which in of itself is quite complicated with the electric motor regenerating the small battery while coasting and decelerating... like I said it's complicated. Probably better to have an inertia base controller on this unit as I am not sure how soon the actual braking current comes on.

Oh yea, one more thing, We got the Emerald Green which is really pretty but almost looks black in certain light. We got 20 inch eight spoke wheels, an upgrade from the 19's. Rides really well on these. These wheels come with Pirelli Scorpion all season tires. I also opted for the Acoustic comfort package (laminated insulated glass and extra cab noise insulation) and it is so quiet!

Really looking forward to getting it out on the road next spring!
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Old 11-18-2019, 06:52 AM   #19
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I set up my reese to provide a minimal WD given this vehicle is self leveling and what's really nice, you can manually adjust the ride height so adjusting the hitch, real time is a breeze! I keep the vehicle in the lowest setting for highway cruising, but is can be lifted several inches for rough roads too.
Thanks for the overview it is nice to see some real experience with the new GLE. I am planning my setup for soon to arrive GLS580. I read in the manual for the 2020GLS:
"Operation with a trailer or bicycle rack: if the electrical connection has been correctly established, the vehicle remains at normal level irrespective of speed."

I assume the GLE is the same. Did you find a way to over ride this when towing so you can keep it at its lowest level?
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:41 AM   #20
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Yes, the manual ride height button in in the center console of the GLS just in front of the center armrest. It can still be set manually when trailering. There is also a load height adjustment in the back, but this does return to level when moving. Comes in handy for hitching up though.

I never got above 8th gear when under power at highway speed, but coasting it went to 9th. Most of the time, at 45 or so, I was in 7th. No hunting whatsoever. Downshifting via the paddle shifter helped in braking (and it earns you recharge bonus points, whatever that is?!). It knew I was towing and actually prompts for optimized trailering route guidance when starting out! I don't know if that includes speed limit or traffic light routing, but the truck hardly has to work at 25-45 and gets spectacular mileage at those speeds. Unloaded, the MPG is pretty much spot on with the EPA ratings. The speed limit recognition is interesting and works well. It will display construction and exit ramp advisory speeds (yellow/orange signs) but will not reduce your speed unless the sign is White.

The backup camera has lots of view options including a hitch view that includes a centering guide line... this is worth it's weight in gold. The 360 camera works well too (split screen). Makes backing into spaces a breeze.
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