The Mercedes-Benz M-Class (or ML-Class), also called Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class since 2015, is amid-size luxury crossover sport utility vehicle (SUV) introduced in 1997, and produced by the German automaker Mercedes-Benz. In terms of size, it is slotted in between the smaller GLK-Class (based on theC-Class) and the larger GL-Class with which it shares platforms. For a short time, between 1999 and 2002, the M-Class was also built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, for the European market, before all the production moved to the U.S. plant near Vance, Alabama. From late 2012, the M-Class was also assembled at new plants in Pune (India), and Wanaherang (Indonesia).
Although grouped under the M-Class banner since launch, BMW, who had the M3 model, objected to the car being badged "M" with the three-digit engine level afterwards (e.g. M 320). This forced Mercedes-Benz to defer to a double-tiered marketing strategy of "ML" badging (e.g. ML 320) under an M-Class umbrella.
From 2015, with the release of the facelifted W166 third generation model at the New York Auto Show in April, the M-Class was renamed to GLE-Class as per the revised nomenclature adopted by the brand. Under this scheme, SUVs use the base name "GL", followed by the model's placement in Mercedes-Benz hierarchy. The "G" is for geländewagen (German off land wagon for off-road vehicle) and alludes the long-running G-Wagen. This is followed by the letter "L" that acts as a linkage with the letter "E"—the GLE being the SUV equivalent to the E-Class.