Mercedes-Benz is gunning for the heart of the U.S. auto market with a battery-powered version of its workhorse GLE crossover.

The midsize EQE goes on sale early next year and fleshes out Mercedes’ electric crossover lineup that is now bookended by the compact EQB and full-size EQS.

The EQE crossover “for us, is yet another puzzle piece to transform into an electric car company in this market,” Mercedes-Benz USA sales chief Senol Bayrak told Automotive News. “It will open even more opportunities to amp up our EQ game and to grow our EQ volume here in the U.S.”

Last year, the GLE was Mercedes’ bestseller in the truck-obsessed U.S. — sales hit 65,074. Halfway into 2022, the GLE ranked third in the midsize premium crossover segment, behind the Lexus RX and BMW X5.

Dealership executive Marty Focht described the high-volume EQE crossover as a “pillar” of the Mercedes EQ subbrand.

“It’ll be a good conquest vehicle,” said Focht, client loyalty director at Mercedes-Benz of Temecula in California.

Focht said the EQ lineup is seeing strong interest — the store’s 2022 allocation of the smaller EQB crossover is sold out.

Meanwhile, at least half of the dealership’s EQS sedan sales went to new Mercedes buyers. “We’re seeing a lot of Tesla buyers,” Focht said.

The EQE will be the second made-in-America Mercedes electric crossover. Output begins this year at Mercedes’ plant in Vance, Ala. — one of seven EV production sites on three continents. The Alabama factory could deliver more than 100,000 EVs next year, or about a third of its annual capacity of 305,000.

The EQE crossover is based on the same EVA2 platform as the brand’s larger full-electric offerings, the EQS sedan and SUV, and the EQE sedan, which was launched this year.

The single-motor rear-wheel-drive EQE 350+ and dual-motor EQE 350 4MATIC deliver 288 hp. The more powerful EQE 500 4MATIC variant pumps out 536 hp.

The crossover is powered by a 90.6- kilowatt-hour battery. Driving range estimates were not disclosed.

A heat pump boosts battery efficiency, using waste heat from the inverter, electric motor and high-voltage battery to heat the interior.

The EQE crossover’s four-link front suspension and a multilink independent rear suspension deliver improved ride comfort and handling, Mercedes said. To increase ground clearance, the crossover can rise up to 1 inch. Available rear-axle steering delivers compact sedan-like maneuverability.

The EQE crossover is more compact than its sedan sibling and, at 119.3 inches, has a wheelbase that is 3.5 inches shorter.

That, coupled with a sweeping roofline and compact rear and front overhangs, delivers a sporty profile. Upfront, a closed grille houses a suite of sensors and cameras. Above the grille is a single light element that sweeps across the front of the vehicle connecting a pair of LED headlights.

An optional “digital light” headlamp technology combines high-resolution light hardware with intelligent software to project lane markings and warning symbols onto the road.

In the interior, a 56-inch curved, high-resolution “Hyperscreen” stretches from A-pillar to A-pillar and combines a 12.8-inch center display with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster.

The EQE’s second-generation’s MBUX operating system can learn the driver’s habits and schedule, recommending phone calls or a change of comfort modes during long drives.

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