Meet Mercedes, the voice of the new GLE 450

I have a new best friend. And she’s called Mercedes. Ask her anything you want; your wish is her command.

“Hey Mercedes. What’s tomorrow’s weather looking like?” “Sunny with a high of 85 degrees, a low of 70 degrees with no chance of rain,” she informs me.

“Hey Mercedes, I’m hot,” and she responds, “Got it, lowering the temperature.” 

“Hey Mercedes. Tell me a joke.” “I’m sorry, German engineers do not know any jokes.” What a gal.

Welcome to Mercedes-Benz’s quite-astonishing MBUX Infotainment System and its voice assistant, Hey Mercedes. 

Think of her as Alexa, Siri or Hey Google for your car which, in this case, is the terrific $62,500-and-up 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 4MATIC SUV I’ve been driving. 

Yes, there have been voice command systems in cars for ages. But Cloud-based “Hey Mercedes” takes it to a whole new level that puts the fun in function.

“Hey Mercedes, I’m bored.”  Her response: “Would you like to play a game? How about a GeoQuiz. What’s the capital of Hungary? Budapest is correct. Nice job.”

Of course, she’s there to help with all the commandy stuff. She’ll change the temperature, find a radio station, work the nav system, open and close the sunroof. You name it, all you have to do is ask.

Yes, it does feel a little silly talking to the dashboard, but if you’ve “Hey Google’d” before, it won’t be a problem.

But on a recent trip across state, Miss Mercedes was a constant source of wonderment, giving me the news, picking music, updating me on destination arrival time, and how much fuel I had left. 

And she can be a little feisty at times. “Hey Mercedes, who is your father?” “What would you like me to say? OK, you’re my daddy now!” I kid you not.

She’s just another reason to love this latest version of the Tuscaloosa, Alabama-built GLE, which is still Mercedes’ best-selling SUV. And rightly so.

While the six-model GLE line-up kicks off with the $54,750 GLE 350 with its 2.0-liter in-line four, and tops out with the insane 603-hp twin-turbo V8 GLE 63S at $115,000, I’m a huge fan of this mid-range GLE 450.

Trust me, it has all the power you’ll ever need, courtesy of its Teflon-smooth turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six coupled to its equally Teflony nine-speed automatic and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. 

I love it because it has a sweet surprise-and-delight feature: Mercedes’ EQ Boost 48-volt hybrid electric system. 

This beefy, built-in electric motor adds 20-horsepower to the party — upping the horsepower to 362-hp — for zippier off-the-line acceleration and more eager passing. 

Punch the gas from a stoplight and the 450 will scoot to 60mph in just 5.5 seconds, yet can average 26 to the gallon on the highway and a surprising 21mpg around town. 

And it drives like a dream, courtesy of precise, nicely weighted steering and the optional $1,700 AIRMATIC suspension with adaptive damping. This smooths out lumps and bumps, reins in body roll and adds to the surefooted feel of this tall-riding Benz. 

Inside, it’s all pure Mercedes luxury. I was going to mention the rich, glove-soft leather until I noticed on the window sticker that it was actually a pleather that Mercedes calls MB-Tex. Impossible to tell the difference. 

There’s stretch-out seating for five in the cabin, with a $2,100 option of a third row. (Don’t bother.) But the $1,000-extra  panorama glass roof is worth every cent, as it floods the entire cabin with light. 

I’m still hugely impressed with Mercedes’ dual 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment displays that stretch almost the entire width of the dashboard. The graphics are just amazing.

“Hey Mercedes. What do you think of this new GLE 450?” I didn’t ask her, but I’m sure she would have responded: “German engineering at its finest.”

Test drive the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 at Crown Eurocars of Pinellas Park, Mercedes-Benz of Tampa, Lokey Motors of Clearwater, Mercedes-Benz of Wesley Chapel, and Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota.