Want a mid-size electric SUV, but insist it carries a Mercedes badge rather than one from an American or Japanese marque? Look no further than the Mercedes EQE SUV.
We spent Monterey Car Week in a 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE 500 4MATIC SUV, the line’s top option before getting into six-figure price tags and AMG badges.
Have the Germans finally beaten Tesla at their own game, or is this SUV a $99,860 runner-up? Read our thoughts below.
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I’m a big fan of EVs (two are currently parked in my driveway) and I’m a big fan of Mercedes (I’ve owned three). I’m also fairly disenchanted with Tesla, due to the company’s charismatic owner and its general attitude towards people like me who modify their cars.
Oh, and I like small SUVs–despite automotive journalists bemoaning the death of the sedan, the reality is that a little SUV is a pretty perfect choice for most people.
Those prerequisites should make me the ideal customer for the EQE SUV, but after 500 miles over a week’s time, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how badly Mercedes-Benz missed the mark here.
Let’s start with the positives.
First, the EQE’s rear steering system is a game-changer. Rear-axle steering is nothing new on luxury cars, but its effects are rarely noticeable unless you’re focused on exactly how the rear wheels are acting mid-corner.
This system, though? It knocks five feet off of the car’s turning circle, making it smaller than that of a Honda Civic. The EQE will literally do a U-turn on a two-lane country road, and parking is a breeze with a rear end that’s almost impossibly nimble. Kudos to Mercedes for making this more than just a marketing gimmick.
Second, the EQE’s interior is simply wonderful. The materials, layout, lighting, everything is amazing. Like, give your friends a ride and they yell “Damnnnnnnn” amazing. I’d probably turn off some of the flashier lighting effects if I was keeping this long-term, but it’s an undeniably striking place to be.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the sound effects–the car rumbles when accelerating and sort of moans when braking–but I’m assuming there’s an off-switch somewhere that would allow the EQE to be driven in silence.
Third, living with an EV day-to-day is no big deal, even without access to home charging. Aside from a few opportunistic stops at level 2 chargers next to restaurants, I fast charged the Benz twice for a total of about an hour, which was plenty of electricity for Monterey Car Week.
Sadly, though, that’s where the positives end.
The 269 miles of range and 402 horsepower is good but not exceptional, as is the 170kW DC fast charging rate.
The EQE’s packaging is where the bad news really begins. Mercedes says “the EQE SUV is based on a platform whose architecture is dedicated to premium electric vehicles. A design not shared with any gasoline-powered model, its packaging, materials, aesthetics and safety systems are optimized not only to support its advanced all-electric powertrain, but to take advantage of the benefits electric power offers for quiet comfort, ample space and innovative design.”
Okay, that’s cool and all, but where’s my damn frunk? And where’s the spacious interior? Ford’s Mustang Mach-E and Tesla’s Model Y each have big front trunks, but the Mercedes does not. And despite being quite large on the outside, the inside could barely fit four people and their carry-on luggage.
Fine, luxury SUVs aren’t meant to be cargo-hauling workhorses. You buy a van if you need to haul stuff. You buy a Mercedes for the driving experience, right?
Well, not in this case.
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but the EQE channels the steering feel, body control, and head-tossing nausea of a malaise-era American car. The driving experience is shockingly subpar, particularly when the Mustang Mach-E it competes against is a fantastic handling car.
It’s like Mercedes-Benz benchmarked the Tesla Model Y and its numb driving dynamics, and then decided buyers wanted an even more numb experience.
Speaking of the Model Y, why is there road and wind noise in this $100,000 electric Mercedes? It’s not terrible, but it’s more than I expected based on the badge and price tag.
So, is the EQE a bad car? No, but it seems like a weak pitch lobbed into a hyper-competitive market full of better options. At $50,000 this would be a perfectly adequate appliance. At twice that price? I’m wondering what the brand is thinking.