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2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV Review: More Status Symbol Than Track Monster

mercedes benz amg eqe suv 2024 01 exterior front angle scaled jpg 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry
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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

The verdict: Like Las Vegas incarnate, the Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV is awkward to look at, cheaply luxurious and more than a little bit gaudy — but it’s also more fun than you expect.

Versus the competition: The Tesla Model X Plaid is decidedly more Spartan (but quicker to 60 mph), while the Rivian R1S Quad-Motor is nicer inside, easier to use, just as quick and considerably less expensive.

High-performance SUVs are a bit of an awkward proposition: Does anyone actually need a 600-plus-horsepower family SUV with huge brakes, a stiff ride and track-ready drive modes? The situation doesn’t get much better when you take away the internal combustion engine and replace it with an electric propulsion system. Yes, you’ve potentially made it quicker, but you’ve also taken away a lot of range, added a lot of weight and created a need to add fake drivetrain noises in order to maintain a sporty image. 

That’s why the new 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV (LMNOP, LGBTQIA, OMGWTFLOL) is so confusing to me. With an AMG badge, it should be a beast: a high-performance, track-ready machine worthy of that three-letter moniker. But it’s also a five-seat, mid-size luxury SUV with an electric drivetrain. On one hand, it has 617 hp, 701 pounds-feet of torque and permanent all-wheel drive; on the other hand, it’s tall and weighs just a tick less than 3 tons.

It’s a weird idea, this AMG EQE SUV, but there one was in my driveway, wearing 21-inch wheels, Diamond White metallic paint and blacked-out trim, ready for a week-long test. Is it a good performance machine? Is it entertaining? Do its high-performance tweaks ruin it for family duty?

Only one way to find out.

Related: 2023 Mercedes-EQ EQE500 SUV Review: The Sweet Spot of the EQ Lineup

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The Bar of Ivory Soap School of Design

Mercedes-Benz’s latest electric vehicle design language arguably works better on the EQ range’s SUVs than it does on the sedans. It’s a traditional two-box style as opposed to the sedans’ unusual cab-forward look — but it still feels like a nondescript bar of soap. Aerodynamic needs are likely to blame here, as drag saps electric range at highway speeds far more than weight or any other factor. 

Being a high-performance AMG vehicle, the EQE gets the typical AMG spiffs, including 21- or 22-inch wheels (mine had 21-inchers wrapped in winter tires due to the timing of my test). It normally comes with Michelin Pilot Sport EV summer tires, which are grippier in warmer weather, but one must change with the (increasingly minimally changing) seasons. 

The rest of my EQE’s trim was blacked out thanks to it being equipped with not one but two AMG Night Packages. The first added black mirror caps, window trim, side skirts, door trim, an “A-Wing” front bumper and splitter, and rear apron trim elements. The second brought black chrome to the front grille, side and rear badging, and a rear Mercedes-Benz star emblem. She was all murdered out, so to speak … which makes the Diamond White paint a bit of a curious choice. It’s not an immediately distinguishable look from other, non-AMG EQE SUVs, but it’s also not garish or immature in the way some high-performance appearance packages can be. It’s understated, and in a darker color would likely go completely unnoticed — which isn’t a bad thing on a vehicle this quick. 

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Is This Really Luxury?

Inside is another matter. SUV versions of the EQ lineup of electric Mercs definitely have a packaging advantage over their sedan counterparts that makes them more comfortable, more useful and more pleasant to be in. The AMG version is no different. In front of you, however, there’s still an absurdly tall dashboard just like in the sedan — it feels as if you’re facing a big glass cliff that’s higher than it should be. It creates an arms-outstretched driving position, as you have to adjust the steering wheel higher than normal so as not to block the digital gauge display and the driver facial-recognition sensors that are necessary for systems like drowsy driving alerts. Some automakers are resorting to “squircle”-shaped steering wheels that allow for greater visibility of these new digital dash screens, but Mercedes-Benz is having none of that, sticking instead with the infuriating touch-sensitive AMG wheel that I’ve harped on in other reviews. It’s difficult to use and requires too much swiping, and it’s too easy to change something you don’t want to change if your hand slips on the wheel. There should never be places on a steering wheel you can’t touch. 

Seats in both the first and second rows are comfortable and adjustable. There’s plenty of headroom in both rows, as well, with adequate legroom in the backseat for normal-sized adults. Cargo room is plentiful, as well, despite a bit of a high liftover, which is to be expected given the batteries arrayed in a low-mounted platform in the floor. 

In front of the driver is an equal parts extraordinary and overwhelming Hyperscreen. It’s a single glass panel that stretches from pillar to pillar, comprising three separate screens that visually blend together; if you’re looking for information overload, here it is. You can, however, turn it all off or customize it to look however you like so it won’t be overly intrusive if you don’t want it to be. The right-side passenger screen allows your front-seat passenger to have some fun while you’re driving, and anything with motion or video won’t be visible to the driver, so as not to create a distraction. The central touchscreen, however, is so big that some of its left-side doodads are blocked from the driver’s view by the steering wheel.

Nearly all of the AMG EQE’s systems are touchscreen-based, including the climate controls, but the more you use the latest MBUX infotainment system, the easier it is to operate. Activating functions often requires multiple touches, but the arrangement of functions and menus is still easier than anything BMW is generating these days. The AMG EQE’s ambient light tricks allow you to turn the interior into anything from a “Tron” Lightcycle to a Las Vegas party bus. Is it classy? No. Is it wild? Sure. Mostly, it’s yet another example of the German luxury brands confusing “technology” with “luxury.” Spending less on silly techno baubles and more on higher-quality interior materials would be a welcome change. 

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Higher Performance, Lower Range

High-performance, track-capable SUVs are already a barmy idea, but buyers keep paying big money to have ‘em, so here’s another. The AMG EQE SUV’s powertrain is a dual-motor setup that generates different levels of horsepower depending on what drive mode you’re in. In Slippery, it generates about half its potential, at 308 hp. Comfort (normal) mode enlists 80% output, or 493 hp. Sport increases power to 90%, or 555 hp, while Sport+ and Race Start modes generate the system’s full 617 hp. Activate a Boost mode in Race Start, and you briefly get 110% output, or 677 hp. I kept the AMG EQE in Comfort mode most of the time, with brief trials in Sport and Sport+ to try that higher output. It’s quick, but what’s even more noticeable is how the audio track changes when you switch modes. 

This isn’t one of those silent EVs that whispers around town. It makes noise at every opportunity; depending on drive mode, it can sound like a tepid Shuttlecraft or a gnarly Starfighter, but it always sounds like some form of spaceship. Whether you’re walking up to it, unlocking it or plugging it in to charge, the folks at AMG decided this EV should be aurally intimidating: It growls, it hums, it engages warp drive — it’s always making some kind of sci-fi noise. You can shut most of this off, of course, but it’s kind of novel to enjoy the silliness of a car whose actual function makes no noise being made to emit a sense of brawny audio aggression.

When you put your foot into it, regardless of mode, it’s ridiculously quick. Almost all EVs are extraordinarily punchy, but when you accelerate in one meant to be a performance machine, it’s always an incredible event. Speed arrives with a massive, seamless rush, accompanied by warp-drive noises that do indeed help to accentuate the moment by adding a soundtrack. The AMG EQE SUV absolutely flies — and I have to admit, it’s a hoot. Handling is relatively neutral, without much on-center steering feel, but feedback and effort can be adjusted depending on the drive mode you’ve selected. 

As for which mode you’ll likely want to keep it in, that’ll be Comfort mode, which maximizes ride quality. Sport mode or anything more aggressive is fun for a little while but eventually gets a bit tedious in around-town driving. Comfort might not afford you all the power the AMG EQE SUV can deliver, but it’ll be more than enough for around-town duties. 

Braking is strong, as well, thanks to some huge optional brake calipers and carbon-ceramic rotors, but plenty of stopping power can also be achieved through several levels of regenerative braking. The AMG EQE SUV, however, has the older style of Mercedes’ regen braking, which moves the pedal for you on the most aggressive setting; it’s an unnerving experience that we don’t like at all. Mercedes has supposedly adjusted this across the rest of its EQ line of vehicles, but not yet for the AMG EQE SUV. 

The price for this level of high-performance SUV is lower driving range: The AMG EQE SUV has the lowest range in the entire EQE SUV lineup. It has a decent-size battery with 90.6 kilowatt-hours of usable capacity, but all of the power used by those big motors leaves it with an EPA-estimated driving range of just 235 miles, which is rather mediocre. It does have the ability to charge quickly, though, with a maximum DC fast-charging rate of 170 kilowatts in ideal conditions. This enables about 100 miles of range to be added in 15 minutes (again, if the stars align). The onboard charger can accept up to 9.6 kW on a Level 2 home charging system.

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Just a Status Symbol?

It’s important to recognize that the vast majority of AMG-branded Mercedes-Benz SUVs never set a tire on a track; AMG has become mostly something of a price booster for the Mercedes brand. What was once an exclusive, legitimate tuning house that turned out high-performance track monsters (and still does, to be fair) has largely become a trim level that allows buyers to add go-fast looks and go-fast equipment to their vehicle, whether that be a two-door convertible or a seven-seat family SUV. That’s really what the AMG EQE SUV is: a hyper-capable five-seat electric SUV with a bunch of go-fast tuning. It seems most likely to serve as the answer for a customer coming into a Mercedes showroom saying, “What’s the fastest electric SUV you have?” — if that’s something anyone is actually saying. 

But that’s really what the EQE SUV is. It’s not something you’d want to take to a track, but it’ll be great fun on back roads, mountain byways and canyon two-lanes. It lets you entertain yourself while still being able to pick up the kids from school or take clients beach-house shopping. Its price will guarantee its rarity, with a base price of $110,450 (all prices include destination fee). The as-tested price of my loaded test car was $130,950, meaning it had $20,000 in options. That included items like a totally unnecessary $5,400 carbon-ceramic brake package and a $4,000 AMG Dynamic Plus Package, which brings an increased top speed, the Boost button and an electronic sound-effects generator. It’s a status symbol more than a track monster, this AMG EQE SUV, but it’s still likely to bring some serious grins. 

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