2023 Mercedes EQE (the SUV)

  • July 21, 2023

Mercedes sells two EQEs.

One of them is an electric sedan (reviewed here) and the other an electric SUV. They don’t look the same but they’re both named EQE – which is kind of like naming a pair of twins Jack and Jack. 

It can be a little confusing.

But though they’re related, they’re also different – even though they’re both about the same size and use the same electric drivetrains.

What It Is

The EQE is the SUV version of the EQE sedan – or vice-versa, depending on how you prefer to look at it. Both are mid-sized electric vehicles that have the same standard and optional drivetrains. 

So what’s different – other than shape?

Well, the EQE – being shaped like an SUV – has almost 60 cubic feet of cargo carrying capacity with its rear seats folded (and more than 18 cubic feet behind them, when they’re in use) vs. much less than that in the EQE sedan’s trunk.

It also has a bit more rearseat legroom, too.

But it’s also several hundred pounds heavier – and for that reason, doesn’t go as far on a charge as its lighter (and aerodynamically smoother) sedan sibling.

And its price to start is higher – $77,900 for the rear-drive EQE 350+ SUV vs. $74,980 for the 350+ (and rear-drive) version of the EQE sedan.

However, you can get an EQE 350 SUV with all-wheel-drive for the same $77,900 as the same thing in a different shape – the EQE sedan with all-wheel-drive, which also stickers for $77,900.

A top-of-the-line EQE 500 SUV (which comes standard with all-wheel-drive) lists for $89,500 vs. $85,900 for the same thing in the shape of a sedan.

What’s New for 2023

The EQE SUV is Mercedes’ newest electric vehicle.

What’s Good

More room for things as well as people vs. EQE sedan.

It can pull up to a 3,500 lb. trailer.

Doesn’t seem to lose charge as quickly as some other EVs.

What’s Not So Good

Maximum fully charged range is only 279 miles.

If you opt for AWD, the range goes down to 253 miles.

Like all EVs, it takes a long time to charge – at home. And the alternative – a commercial “fast” charger – means you’ll be spending more time away from home.

Under The Hood

The EQE’s power storage source is a 90.6 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It feeds power to one – or two – electric motors, depending on whether you choose rear-drive (and just one motor) or all-wheel-drive (two motors).

There is no transmission – which is one of the ways EVs save some weight (and cost) – which is good, because this helps to somewhat compensate for/defray the cost (and weight) of the battery pack. To get a sense of how much weight these add to an electric vehicle, weigh the 5,300 lb. rear-drive EQE vs. the 4,608 curb weight of the slightly larger (and non-electric) Benz GLE 350.

The GLE is about 800 pounds lighter. That’s roughly how much battery weight the EQE has to lug around.

The good news is that EV electric motors make all this weight feel light. The rear-drive EQE350’s single 288 horsepower motor doesn’t sound particularly powerful – until you take into account the 417 ft.-lbs. of torque this motor produces  – as soon as you ask it to. Because it’s not an engine, there’s no waiting for the revving that would be necessary – with an engine – to get the torque that gets you moving. It’s why the rear-drive EQE 350 can get to 60 in less than six seconds – even though it weighs almost as much as a Chevy Suburban (5,616 lbs.)

The AWD-equipped EQE has the same rated horsepower, but advertised torque increases to 564 ft.-lbs.

However, the electric Benz’s range decreases from the rear-drive version’s 279 miles to just 253 miles.

The strongest version of the EQE SUV – for now – is the EQE 500, which comes with two more powerful motors that, combined, produce 402 horsepower and 633 ft.-lbs. of torque. Interestingly, this strongest and heaviest (5,665 lb.) version of the EQE SUV has a bit more range (269 miles) even though it is heavier than a Chevy Suburban.

It can also get to 60 in 4.4 seconds, which is several seconds quicker than a V8-powered Suburban.

On The Road

The power (and immediate torque) of electric motors belies the weight of electric vehicles – insofar as acceleration.

But there’s no getting around entropy.

It takes a lot of energy to get 5,300-plus pounds of anything moving, especially quickly. But electric vehicle battery packs don’t store very much energy. To be precise, they store the rough equivalent of about half a tank of gas, or about seven gallons. That would be enough to get a non-electric SUV about the same size as the EQE that averaged say 30 miles-per-gallon about 210 miles down the road. That’s not very, either. But keep in mind – that’s only half a tank of gas. A non-electric equivalent such as the Benz GLE  can go more than twice that far because it can carry about twice as much gas (and so, energy) as half a tankful.

For an EV to be able to go that far, it would need a larger – and even heavier – battery pack to store the necessary energy. But that would push the weight of an EV like the EQE to more than 6,000 pounds – and it would burn even more energy to move all that weight.

You see the problem.

Which isn’t even range problem, per se.  The tandem problem is the time it takes to get that range back.

Especially at home – where the “fastest” you can recharge an EV is Level II, using a 240V outlet. That takes 8-11 hours to recover a full charge. If you haven’t got a 240V outlet and use a standard 115-120 volt household outlet, it will take more than a day to recover a partial charge.

I spent a lot of time waiting (at home) for the EQE to charge. I could have spent less time at a “fast” (Level III) commercial charger, but the problem there is having to drive there – and back – which takes away time from being at home as well as from driving.

This would be less of a problem if the range were at least as much as is typical for a non-electric equivalent rather a half to a third less far. But that would necessitate a larger (heavier) battery and . . . well, you see the problem.

It’s obviously not as much of a problem for people who mostly drive short distances and so usually have plenty of charge left – and for that reason, aren’t forced to wait. But if your daily drive is 50 miles or more, you may find – as I did – that you are spending a lot of time waiting to be able to drive, again.

There is some good news, though, as regards this EQE. Unlike a number of other-brand EVs I have test driven over the past year, this one seems to go about as far as Mercedes (and the dashboard range indicator) says it will. Not quite – but that’s probably due to my heavy right foot. Even so, I found that if I drove 50 or so actual road miles, I only used up about 60 indicated miles.

Some other EVs burned through their indicated range as if they had a leak in the proverbial (and non-existent) gas tank.

But when you use up even 60 miles of range and only had 150 miles of range to start with (because you maybe didn’t have time to wait for a full charge) you’re not far from running on empty. And because this is an EV, you can’t just roll into the next gas station on fumes – and be back on the road in minutes.

At The Curb

Being an SUV, the EQE benefits from the attributes that have made SUVs much more popular than cars, which they’ve all-but-replaced.

The chief attribute being room – and here we have an interesting study in contrasts.

The EQE SUV has 18.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind its second row – which is more than the EQE sedan has, period – because the latter only has a small trunk for stuff. It can’t be expanded to accommodate more stuff, either. But in the EQE – like most SUVs – you can fold the rear seats down and more than double the available cargo space to 59 cubic feet. This endows the EQE SUV with the ability to carry stuff and people.

Plus people and their stuff.

It shares with the EQE sedan flush-mount door panels that extend when the key holder approaches and with the EQS sedan (Mercedes’ top-of-the-line electric sedan) what appears to be a single large LCD touchscreen that combines the main 12.3 inch driver’s instrument cluster with the secondary 12.8 inch screen for the apps – vs. the physically separate, two-piece displays in the EQE sedan.

All of these can be a bit much to use while driving but this is remedied by Mercedes voice-assist tech. Just ask the car – Hey, Mercedes! – to change the station to the one you want, adjust the heat or AC or call up the GPS map.

At close to $80k to start, the “base” EQE 350 is kind of like a starter estate home. You expect things like granite countertops and Andersen windows are part of the deal. Similarly, here, things like a 15 speaker audio system and a power sliding full-length panorama sunroof are standard.

Aber, the lowest-priced EQE does not come standard with real leather seats. You have to step up to the Pinnacle trim for those.

Otherwise, it’s Mercedes synthetic leather seats – which (unlike like say synthetic meat) actually do look and feel convincingly real. Also included with the Pinnacle is an augmented reality navigation system, multi-pixel LED headlights, a heads-up display and Mercedes’ Air Balance cabin scent system. Open the glovebox and you’ll find a small glass jar of scent – you can pick from several. This is background misted into the cabin.

Perhaps the most desirable option, though, is the available driver’s seat/front passenger seat massage system. Mercedes offers one of the best such systems on the market in that the massage rollers are powerful enough that you actually do get a massage.

The Rest

The EQE has its charge port located on the passenger side rear quarter panel, which means you may have to back-up to get close enough to for the charge cord to reach wherever your plug (at home) is. Be aware that you can’t use an extension cord – because the factory supplied charging apparatus will detect impedance and disallow the charge.

Another awkwardism is the location of the 12V power point – which is tucked up on the passenger side of the center console where it cannot be seen (or reached) unless you squat down and look for it. This makes it difficult to plug in accessories such as radar detectors.

As of this writing there isn’t an ultra-performance AMG iteration of the EQE SUV.

But it is probable one will be available soon.

The Bottom Line

Both EQEs are posh, powerful but short-leashed vehicles.

Until more energy can be stored in EV batteries (without making EV batteries even heavier and more expensive than they already are) or a way can be divined to get one off the charger much faster, the market for these and other EVs will be limited to those who can afford the wait, don’t drive much – or are affluent enough to have a second vehicle available to drive while their EV charges up.

. . .

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