May 3, 2019

What we're driving: 2020 Mercedes GLE 450

2020 Mercedes GLE 450. Photo: Mercedes-Benz

I drive a lot of cars, but rarely do I find one as pleasing as the 2020 Mercedes GLE 450 I drove last week in Florida. But at $96,930 fully loaded, it should pamper me.

The backstory: The market is flooded with premium SUVs, but Mercedes-Benz invented the segment in 1997 with the launch of the M-Class (renamed GLE in 2015). The combination of a gorgeous interior and innovative technology means this premium mid-sized SUV just keeps getting better.

And it's full of delightful surprises, like:

  • The navigation system's augmented reality technology superimposes directional arrows or house numbers onto the screen to make it easier to find a certain address or turn.
  • Two side-by-side 12.3-inch screens create a widescreen look, and a vibrant optional head-up display keeps the driver's eyes where they belong.
  • A traffic jam assist system takes over in stop-and-go traffic up to 37 mph, and uses live traffic information to recognize slowing traffic even before the driver does.
  • A camera in the overhead console knows who is using the multimedia system so it activates the massage function on the proper seat, for example. (I tried all the massage options: my favorite was "Wave.")
  • The GLE's active lane-keeping assist technology felt like a gentle hip check slowing the car by 1–2 mph anytime I strayed across a solid painted line. It was jarring at first, until I learned what was happening.

I had a few nits to pick:

  • The natural language voice commands in Mercedes' vaunted MBUX weren't quite as intuitive as I'd expected; perhaps with practice it would get more accurate.
  • And the touchpad on the central console also takes some getting used to; we had a lot of false clicks as we struggled to operate it while driving.

The bottom line: You could get into a base GLE for $53,700, but true pampering costs a lot more.

Go deeper: See what else Joann has been driving

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,513,358 — Total deaths: 88,415 — Total recoveries: 329,329Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 430,376 — Total deaths: 14,739 — Total recoveries: 23,707Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Top Trump administration officials had been developing a plan to give cloth masks to huge numbers of Americans, but the idea lost traction amid heavy internal skepticism.
  4. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe. Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  5. Business: One-third of U.S. jobs are at risk of disappearing, mostly affecting low-income workers.
  6. World: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries to put politics aside "if you don’t want to have many more body bags.”
  7. Environment: COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.
  8. Tech: A new report recommends stimulus spending to help close the digital divide revealed by social distancing.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York tops previous day's record death toll

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in the state in 24 hours. The state has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Why it matters: Public health officials have warned this would be a particularly deadly week for America, even as New York began to see declining trends of hospitalizations and ICU admissions.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 23 mins ago - Health

The pandemic and pollution

New York City's skyline on a smoggy day in May 2019. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

COVID-19 is underscoring the connection between air pollution and dire outcomes from respiratory diseases.

Why it matters: Old-fashioned air pollution is almost certainly the single biggest environmental health threat, contributing to the deaths of some 7 million people a year according to the WHO, making it comparable to deaths from smoking.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health