I’m always fascinated by the design that goes into cars. I imagine a team of people who are all well-versed in the latest design aesthetics, who understand the human factor behind all design, and yet also have a flair and originality in their thought process.
I don’t have those things, mostly because I can’t really design or sketch. I have ideas, but the way they translate into an actual product is a bit bumpy.
That’s why I have so much appreciation for the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450. The elegant, well-designed crossover drives and looks like something really smart people imagined. Every minute behind the wheel made me think the entire layout of the car, the controls, and the driving experience were created by people who love to drive, and who love to make driving easier.
One surprise, then, after playing around with the controls and experimenting with the settings (as is my usual way), was discovering that the designers made the dashboard interface customizable. You can select the interface you want, and flip through a few options.
For starters, there’s one mode that is more peaceful and serene, meant to strip away most of the settings and simply show your speed and a few other indicators (like current outside temp, fuel range left, and speed limit). This mode shows just the vehicle on the road with pleasant mountain vista off in the distance.
Next, I tried a mode that is meant more for my style of driving — that is, fast and spirited. In Sport mode, you see a red bar to remind yourself that you are in a Mercedes-Benz and you can push things a little. There’s an indicator for speed and RPM, but my favorite gauge is for G-Force, which is a measure of gravitational force against the vehicle. This is particularly useful around sharp corners so you can see how much force you are generating.
In an off-roading mode, the display shifts to a scene that looks like a sand dune. You’ll see a compass to help guide you at an off-road setting (in my case, it was a dirt-road by my house). It’s as though those designers I mentioned earlier decided that speed was not as important as your heading. You can also use a gauge to show the tilt of the vehicle.
Of course, in all modes, you can still see the speed limit for the road you are on, current speed, indicators for fuel range left, and a few other helpful notices. The real point is to shift the display into mode that helps the current driving preference. It’s well-designed, clear, colorful, and helpful.
I could imagine a future when you could tweak these displays even further, perhaps disabling the compass or showing some combination of the sport mode screen with some off-roading indicators.
For me, it made the entire experience of driving the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 more enjoyable. I appreciated the design that went into the vehicle, the customizations possible to fit my driving preference, and the sharp attention to detail.