2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV First Drive Review

Mid-sized EV crossover marries tech and luxury in a right-size package.

By Matthew Guy Wheels.ca

Apr 4, 2023 6 min. read

Article was updated 6 months ago

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Ericeira, Portugal - The crew in Stuttgart has been plunging with both feet into various all-electric segments, smartly serving up offerings in the popular (and profitable) SUV and crossover body styles. Their latest effort? This EQE SUV. It's a size smaller than the jumbo EQS SUV we drove last year, though it shares platform bones with that vehicle – and much in the way of appearance. German car companies have always been good at creating different lengths of sausage, so it’s not unlikely onlookers may mistake this ride for its larger cousin.

A pair of models, both with all-wheel drive, will be on tap when this rig comes to Canada later this year as a 2023 model. The EQE 350 4Matic SUV ($94,900) can muster 288 horsepower and 564 lb.-ft of torque from its dual motor setup, while the EQE 500 4Matic SUV ($104,900) belts out a healthy 402 all-electric horses and 633 lb.-ft of right-now torque. Battery capacity is equal across both, at 90.6 kWh, but the more powerful twin ekes out a win in terms of officially stated driving range: 433 kilometres versus 407 clicks.

2023 mercedes benz eqe suv

This is the opposite of what’s expected – typically one trades range for power in an EV – but Mercedes attributes the discrepancy to tire and wheel choice, meaning one may not see those figures if they opt for snazzy 22-inch dubs instead of the aero-friendly 19 inchers. Call it 400 kilometers of range for each trim, a number that seemed realistic according to vehicle readouts during our first drive, and choose your optional trim packages wisely if the maximum range is your primary bogey whilst shopping for an all-electric luxury SUV. This Merc can hoover up electrons from an appropriately stout Level 3 public charger to the tune of 170kW, meaning it can juice itself from 10 – 80 percent in about half an hour. An at-home Level 2 can do the deed overnight while all hands slumber.

2023 mercedes eqe suv

The EQE SUV is immediately recognizable as an electric Mercedes, which is to say it bears an enormous tri-star logo the size of a dinner plate on its non-grille, sure to advertise yer new purchase to nosy neighbours across the street. And, before you ask – there is no frunk underneath that hood. Mercedes insists the space is better used for tech-laden cabin air filters and other unmentionables, like the utility floor you’re not supposed to visit at a fancy hotel. We feel the market will decide if this is the right approach, especially with some direct competitors choosing to read from the Book of Frunk.

One benefit of such an arrangement? A cavernous interior. Head- and legroom was ample in both the front and rear quarters for this 6’6” author, despite the presence of a retractable panoramic glass roof which – combined with underfloor EV batteries – generally scuppers headroom. In fact, your long-legged writer had to move the driver’s seat forward on its tracks to find a comfortable driving position, which is great news for second-row passengers who will have abundant space in which to enjoy their own climate controls and adjustable chairs. For comparison, the EQE SUV roughly splits the difference in length between the Tesla Model Y and Model X but is within a shout of the new Cadillac Lyriq in all dimensions.

2023 mercedes eqe suv

The interior is loaded to the gunwales with sumptuous materials and bleeding-edge technology, as one would expect in an all-electric Mercedes. The brand’s expansive MBUX Hyperscreen is a treat for non-luddite eyes, with a pane of gently curved glass spanning the entire dashboard housing a trio of crystal-clear screens. Ahead of the driver is a 12.3-inch display that can be reconfigured a few different ways to serve up vehicle vitals, while the passenger gets their own 12.3-inch OLED display with a separate user interface in which whoever’s riding shotgun can call up driving info, maps, or even watch their own movie through a streaming service. This screen uses camera-based blocking logic to dim the display if it catches the driver taking their eyes off the road for a gander at what’s occupying the passenger. This is the type of luxury feature you don’t know you wanted until it is – literally – right in front of you.

In between these displays is an IMAX-sized infotainment screen, handling all manner of features and climate controls plus doing duty as deejay and navigator. The former can tag team with an optional Burmester 3D sound system and Dolby Atmos to create the type of musical atmosphere once exclusively reserved for elite home systems. We made sure to sample the standard infotainment as well, comprised of a 17.7-inch tablet that integrates well into EQE’s dashboard without looking like an errant tablet temporarily lodged on the console. Both systems displayed navigation information to such detail that it literally showed rolling surf on the ocean when we neared the coast.

2023 mercedes eqe suv

Materials and finish were typically Mercedes, which is to say top-tier, save for a very un-Benz-like hollow sound behind the passenger-side dashboard trim panel when a Hyperscreen is not present. Don’t rap on it with your knuckles and you’ll never know this fault. Numerous materials are crafted from recycled resources to keep the environmentalists happy yet maintain the quality one expects from a vehicle wearing this badge.

Our drive routes took us out of a snarled Lisbon, up through a series of Autobahn-style highways, and onto the rural roads of Portugal. The stronger EQE 500 was very agreeable, unleashing all its torque with a simple flex of the driver’s big toe which made it a great tool for finding a gap in traffic or zipping up to felonious speeds on the open autoroutes. But it would be a mistake to call the EQE 350 a slouch, mainly because it trails big-bro by less than 70 lb.-ft of torque. In truth, most customers will be more than happy with the 350 unless they require the bigger badge to impress their friends. Wind noise was perceptible around the oddly huge A-pillars, a consequence of silent electric motoring that one wouldn’t even know was present in a traditional ICE car. Road noise was never pronounced, regardless of surface.

2023 mercedes eqe suv

2023 mercedes eqe suv

Depending on the driving situation and the power required, the EQE 4Matic’s powertrain will automatically decouple the front-axle electric motor to reduce rolling resistance and increase range. All-wheel drive kicks back in when the system senses extra traction is required, such as in slick weather or when the driver calls down to the engine room for more power during passing. This transition is invisible, which means it’s working precisely as designed. A rear axle steering system with a maximum steering angle of 10 degrees is standard on the 500 and available on the 350, a trick piece of kit that proved its worth in tight Lisbon traffic where drivers regularly displayed a terrifying mix of apathy and aggression.

With all this in mind, it’s arguable the EQE SUV is Mercedes’ most important vehicle right now. It is sized right for Canadian shoppers seeking a premium all-electric mid-size SUV, packs more real-world passenger space than its footprint might suggest, and offers two powertrain flavours paying service to either id or ego. A driving range of 400-ish kilometres doesn’t top the charts but should be enough to satisfy the needs of most families and its 170kW charging speed is as much as most Canadian public chargers are able to supply right now.

2023 mercedes eqe suv

Add acres of typical Mercedes luxury plus optional AMG-line exterior styling for those of us who don’t live life on the greyscale and you’ve a strong competitor in what’s becoming a crowded segment. Look for both variants of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV to appear in Canadian showrooms during the month of May.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV

EQE 350 4MATIC – $94,900

EQE 500 4MATIC – $104,900

BODY STYLE: five-door SUV

DRIVE METHOD: synchronous electric motors, all-wheel drive

POWER: 288 hp, 564 lb.-ft (EQE 350), 402 hp, 663.-ft (EQE 500)

RANGE: 403 km (EQE 350) / 433 km (EQE 500), NRCan rating

CARGO VOLUME: 520L / 1675L (rear seats up / down)

WEBSITE: www.mercedes-benz.ca




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