If we’ve learned anything from the post-recessionary auto boom, it’s that small and luxurious are no longer mutually exclusive.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is a fine example; the two-row crossover is the company’s best-selling vehicle. In 2019, it outsold all other luxury-compact CUVs.
Five models campaign under the GLC banner. The base GLC 300 is available in two body styles, a traditional upright crossover ($42,500) and a sleek four-door “coupe” ($50,0000).
Other GLC models include the soon-to-be-released GLC 350e plug-in hybrid and a pair of high-performance machines from Mercedes’s AMG sub-brand.
Unique performance profiles
Each GLC model has a unique ride-and-handling profile, tailored to the market segment it serves. The GLC 300 and 350e are lithe and smooth-riding; the AMG models are strong and engaging.
We tested the 2020 GLC 300 CUV, the family’s bread-and-butter model. At its core, our tester had that steely, bone-deep solidity that’s a family trait. The tautly tuned suspension tamped down unwanted body motions and also tamed potholes, railroad beds and other broken surfaces.
Unlike most car-based crossovers, which are built on front-wheel-drive platforms, the GLC is powered by the rear wheels. MB’s 4Motion AWD is available.
The GLC debuted in 2015, replacing the former GLK. This year, the family gets a mid-cycle refresh.
There are new LED headlights and taillights, new bumpers and a redesigned grille; a new base engine; and a powerful new infotainment system.
True to MB DNA
The GLC embodies the elegance, comfort and build-quality central to Mercedes-Benz’s DNA.
Its cabin is beautifully designed and meticulously assembled. Materials quality is top-shelf and switchgear has a reassuring heft and fluidity. The door panels and most of the dash are covered in soft-touch materials.
A single curved piece of natural woodgrain forms the instrument panel and center console. It’s punctuated by rows of precisely aligned metallic switches.
There’s plenty of room for four adults in the GLC’s hushed cabin. Unfortunately, its cargo hold is smaller than the competitions’.
Casual cabin storage is also in short supply. There’s a small cell-phone bin just ahead of the cup holders and the padded center armrest conceals a deep bin with a clamshell lid. The front passenger gets a small net on the left side of the footwell. Rear-seat passengers share a small covered bin in the fold-down armrest.
The default upholstery is M-B’s perforated MB-Tex “leatherette.”
The latest version of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system is powerful, flexible and a bit daunting. Yes, there is a learning curve, but MB helps by providing several ways to control the system, including one of the best natural-language voice-command systems we’ve tested.
MBUX uses artificial intelligence to “learn” the driver’s habits and preferences.
New powertrain impresses
The new turbocharged four makes 255 horsepower, 14 more than the engine it replaces, and is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Unlike other many-geared transmissions, the GLC’s never stumbled or hesitated at low speeds. It readily kicked down from a higher gear to a lower one.
The 0-60 sprint happens in 6.8 seconds and an AWD GLC is EPA-rated at 24 mpg combined (21 city/28 highway). Properly equipped, it is rated to tow up to 5,100 pounds.
A set of drive modes allow the driver to opt for more aggressive throttle and gearbox settings.
Steering feel is ideally weighted and the system is quick and accurate, though it doesn’t communicate much from the road surface. A solid center groove yields effortless straight-line tracking.
The GLC 300 comes with a healthy if not exhaustive list of standard features. Every GLC gets LED headlights, a power liftgate and power-adjustable and heated front seats. MBUX includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
When it arrives later this year, the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid will deliver more torque and its electric-only range grows to 28-30 miles. Pricing hasn’t been announced.
In the new automotive world, bigger is not necessarily better, a truism that GLC buyers have taken to heart.
Questions or comments? Contact Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic
Vehicle base price: $42,500
Trim level base price: $44,500
As tested: $60,875
Key options: metallic paint; leather; panoramic moonroof; Burmester surround sound audio; Driver Assist package; Parking Assistance package; navigation; AMG Line cosmetics and perforated front brake discs; ventilated front seats; Offroad Engineering package; inductive wireless charging and NFC pairing and more
Towing capacity: 5,100 pounds
EPA ratings: 24 combined/21 city/28 highway
Premium fuel specified