CHATHAM, Mass. – The first vehicle I ever reviewed was a Mercedes-Benz; and like that E-Class sedan years ago, the new battery-electric (BEV) EQE 500 4MATIC SUV I recently sampled performed beyond my expectations.
Like previous versions of the world’s oldest automaker, I found myself driving faster than I imagined thanks to the outstanding combination of ride comfort, reassuring roadholding and quiet cabin all of which seemed to get better the faster I went.
The EQE 500 is a technological tour de force in terms of dynamic capabilities, safety and infotainment – basically, engineering on the cutting edge (well beyond simply sticking electric motors into an extant chassis).
Two motor all-wheel-drive system
The 4MATIC in the vehicle’s name indicates all-wheel drive which is achieved via two motors, each one powering the front and rear wheels respectively.
The electric motors on the front and rear axles are permanently excited synchronous motors (PSM) which produce a combined output of 402 horsepower (300kWh) and 633 pounds-feet of torque.
These are high-performance numbers which Car and Driver confirmed by reaching 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 4.2 seconds. This used to be a supercar number, but today’s electric vehicles routinely seem to achieve sub-five-second 0-60 times even in vehicles weighing more than 5,000 pounds like the Mercedes EQE SUV.
Fueling these motors is a 90.6 kWh battery which can go from 10-to-80 percent charged at a Level 3 (fast-charging) station in 20 minutes. And fully charged, the EQE 500 told me I had between 333 and 363 miles of range, one of the highest figures I have seen in any BEV.
My week of driving the Mercedes BEV was uneventful in terms of range thanks to the Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox Home charger in my garage. I plugged the long charging cable into the EQE each night and had a fully charged battery the next morning.
One-pedal driving, brakes and ADAS galore
In addition to my wall unit, I recharged the battery each time I lifted off the accelerator thanks to the regenerative-braking system. The EQE allowed for one-pedal driving with the regen system bringing the SUV to a complete halt without my needing to touch the brake pedal.
Speaking of the brakes, the Mercedes has a four-wheel disc system with anti-lock (ABS) including 15.3-inch front rotors and 14.6 rear ones. These large discs also play a role in the extensive advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) featured in the review model.
Standard ADAS includes blind-spot assist; active lane-keep assist; active parking assist with surround-view (camera) system; active brake assist.
The review SUV included the optional ($1,250) Driver Assistance Package which adds active-distance assist DISTRONIC®; active-steering assist; evasive-steering assist; active blind-spot assist; active speed-limit assist; traffic-sign assist; PRE-SAFE® PLUS, and PRE-SAFE® impulse side.
According to Mercedes-Benz, these last two PRE-SAFE® systems are:
- PRE-SAFE® PLUS can take action in the event of an imminent rear-end impact. The system warns the driver of the vehicle following behind by activating the rear hazard warning lights with increased frequency. In addition, the preventive PRE-SAFE® occupant protection measures, including the reversible belt tensioners, are triggered. If the vehicle is stationary, PRE-SAFE® PLUS locks the brakes. Reducing forward motion can significantly reduce the loads acting on occupants, including the risk of whiplash.
- PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side (availability depending on selected equipment) can move the affected driver or front passenger away from the danger even before the crash as soon as the system detects that a side-on collision is immediately imminent. For this purpose, air chambers in the side bolsters of the front seat backrest are inflated in fractions of a second.
Engineered to handle like a sports car
Nimble is the EQE 500 4MATIC SUV felt in contrast to what one might have assumed considering the 5,700-pound curb weight and 191-inch length (that of a mid-size SUV). I credit much of that capability to a combination of the overall chassis engineering, rear-wheel steering and optional ($1,900) AIRMATIC air suspension.
The 10-percent rear-wheel steering capability enables the EQE to feel like a compact car when maneuvering in the tight confines of crowded Provincetown, Mass.
It also pays off during runs down the twisting roads from the Atlantic coastline into Wellfleet, Mass. due to the integrated actuation of steering and brakes (ESP®) thus improving overall stability at speed.
While driving, the AIRMATIC’s sophisticated sensor system and algorithms set the dampers according to the quality of the road to ensure that, for example, driving over a bump with just one wheel is not transmitted to the entire axle and the interior. Spring and damper are combined in one strut on the front axle.
The system also maintains the proper ground clearance and can raise and lower the vehicle both manually or through the vehicle’s computer settings.
The result of this engineering exercise is a vehicle which operates in such a way as to seemingly defy the laws of physics while providing comfort and dynamic operations belying its size and weight.
Luxury, technology fill interior
Regardless of the engineering capabilities which sets the Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV apart amongst mid-size sport-utility vehicles, what is instantly apparent upon entering its cabin is this is a luxury vehicle designed to encapsulate its occupants in comfort supported by the latest technological advancements.
The company calls its infotainment/vehicle interface system MBUX and the 12.8-inch portrait-oriented OLED touch screen at its heart dominates the otherwise clean and empty dash (other than virtually hidden central air vents and a 12.3-inch digital cluster facing the driver through the multi-function, heated, electrically adjustable steering wheel).
This is a comprehensive system which needs time and training to master. I cannot begin to explain all its capabilities without doing it injustice. Navigation, of course. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, certainly. Satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming, present.
The seats are leather trimmed and heated. The optional ($2,350) Multi-contour Front Seating Package adds multi-contour seats, rapid heating ventilation and massage. The Pinnacle Trim Package ($3,300) brings various trim changes to the interior as well as four-zone automatic climate control, MBUX augmented reality navigation and head-up display.
I have skimmed the surface of features and capabilities brought to the driving public by the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV. It is a lot of vehicle for a not insignificant price. The review unit base price of $89,500 was supplemented by a long list of options and packages. Many of these options contributed to the driving experience as described and they bring the as-tested price to $108,920 (which included an $1,150 destination and delivery fee).
I won’t begin to try and justify spending more than $100K for a vehicle, but if you want an ultimate electric vehicle with room to transport up to five persons and a lot of their stuff in extreme comfort and safety, this vehicle should fulfill that desire.