by Deiondre van der Merwe
The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV blends comfort and luxury in updated packaging for 2020, keeping it fresh in the compact luxury SUV segment. The GLC has always been a great SUV, but the modernization has done the Merc well, and the interior is as luxurious as ever, now with the MBUX infotainment suite to match. Mercedes has always produced cars that people want to get their hands on, whether it's a flaming performance coupe or a family-focused SUV. In the case of the latter we look at here, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is on hand to deliver 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque to either the rear or all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. This puts it in good stead to take on rivals like the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and Lexus NX, and in the face of such rivals, the GLC is a compelling alternative, but isn't necessarily a shoo-in for a spot in your garage.
For 2020, the exterior of the GLC is refreshed with a new grille and a slimmer headlight design. It's different under the hood, too, and the 2.0-liter four-pot now produces an extra 14 horsepower over last year's model. The interior of the SUV is where it gets interesting, thanks to a newfangled interior design that focuses more on tech. Mercedes-Benz User Experience now comes standard, and a digital instrument cluster can be controlled via a new-gen steering wheel. The 10.25-inch screen can now be controlled via a new touchpad in the center console as well as by touch itself and the GLC's standard suite of safety features now includes active lane change assist and speed adaptation.
A new grille and updated all-round lower fascia join forces with a narrow headlight design to subtly update the exterior appearance of the GLC. And though it was rather fetching before, it's even more so in 2020. Full-LED headlights and taillights grace the SUV, along with the iconic twin-blade grille. The rear end doesn't see much change from last year aside from newly designed tail lights, but is attractive nonetheless with shapely proportions and two contoured tailpipes. The SUV rests on a set of 18-inch wheels and a panoramic sunroof can be added for $1,500 for extra luxury.
The GLC shares similar proportions with the BMW X3, and it is slightly larger than the Lexus NX. A 113.1-inch wheelbase accompanies a length of 183.3 inches, and the compact Mercedes manages to be longer than both of its aforementioned rivals. A height of 64.7 inches means that it's not as tall as the BMW X3 and the GLC has a width of 82.5 inches including wing mirrors. The GLC 300 has a curb weight of 3,889 pounds, while the GLC 300 4MATIC adds some extra weight thanks to its all-wheel-drive system and has a total curb weight of 3,977 lbs, which is slightly lighter than the equivalent X3 AWD that weighs 4,041 lbs.
A selection of 12 exterior colors can be had with your GLC, but don't get too excited. Someone on the design team is clearly a big fan of E.L. James because nearly half of the palette is a different shade of grey. Two of the 12 colors are standard, and if you're after a no-cost hue, you'll be limited to Black and Polar White. Eight metallic shades are available, and seven of them will cost an additional $720. These options include Obsidian Black, Mojave Silver, Iridium Silver, Brilliant Blue, Lunar Blue, Selenite Grey, and Graphite Grey. Two of the more premium metallic hues will cost $1,080 for designo Cardinal Red and $1,515 for the designo Diamond White. The most expensive option ($2,020) available is the designo Selenite Grey Magno that swathes the SUV in a luxurious matte grey hue.
Slightly more powerful than both the base BMW X3 and the Lexus NX, both the GLC 300 and its 4MATIC-equipped sibling manage a run from 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds according to Mercedes-Benz. This is marginally slower than the BMW X3 (by 0.1 seconds), but not slow enough to make a real-world difference. The turbocharged 2.0-liter makes way for an extra 14 horsepower over last year's model, and the SUV gets to 60 mph nearly half a second faster than it managed before. Spry acceleration is part and parcel for the SUV, and though it may not be overly powerful, the GLC never feels unwilling. The RWD-equipped GLC 300 does well without the extra weight from an all-wheel-drive system and its lighter demeanor is shown in its performance. Getting going from a standstill isn't a struggle for the SUV and the GLC 300 will happily venture up to its 6,500 rpm red line. What's impressive about the Merc is that it manages not to deliver an overly-SUV experience, feeling almost as nimble as the C300 sedan.
The GLC 300 employs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is capable of producing 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, making it slightly more powerful than the BMW X3 30i's 248 hp and 258 lb-ft. It also manages to best the Lexus NX 300's 235 hp and 258 lb-ft figures. The 2.0-liter four-pot in the GLC 300 is married to a nine-speed automatic gearbox that isn't always perfect, unfortunately. Downshifting in comfort mode can sometimes be a bit of a slog. Switching to Sport mode will improve dexterity levels if you're after snappier shifts. Still, the progression of base-level engines in luxury SUVs makes it rather difficult to rationalize opting for bigger engines, especially if outright performance isn't on top of your priority list. While the AMG models may be more exciting, the 2.0-liter four-pot serves this SUV particularly well and the punchy engine never objects to getting the GLC 300's wheels moving swiftly, even when the extra weight of the 4MATIC system is equipped.
An incontestable virtue of the GLC 300 is its plush ride over many a varied surface, and the essence of the SUV is comfort. Unfortunately, this comes at the sacrifice of an overly-sporty feel from behind the wheel. That being said, the GLC 300 still manages to deliver an engaging drive, and it's unlikely that anyone would find the SUV boring, but an X3 offers more poise and involvement, and an Alfa Romeo Stelvio leaves it for dead in the emotional involvement department.
The Merc manages to combine charm and leisure to make the perfect recipe for a long road trip. Keeping in mind that the GLC's main focus is comfort and luxury, the SUV actually performs pretty well in the corners with less lean than one would expect from a high-riding SUV. It emits a trustworthy attitude, especially thanks to its sharp braking abilities and the GLC halts to a stop from 60 mph in 110 feet in independent testing. The steering could do with some more feedback, but overall, it directs the SUV sharply and accurately.
The 4MATIC variant feels heavier but offers extra capability in wet weather, and the extra weight would be difficult to notice if you weren't aware that it was there. Mercedes made sure that the GLC offers a great blend of comfort without resulting in it being a completely soulless SUV to drive, and the SUV is a joy on long journeys.
One thing that the GLC could use a little improvement on is its thirsty attitude to fuel economy, and the SUV is bested by both the BMW X3 and the Lexus NX in FWD guise. The GLC 300 has EPA estimates of 22/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined, and these are bested quite substantially by the sDrive30i's frugal 25/29/27 mpg figures. The 4MATIC-equipped GLC shares the same combined figure with its RWD sibling but has lower city/highway figures of 21/28 mpg. When its 17.4-gallon fuel tank is at full capacity, you can expect close to 420 miles of range from the SUV.
Mercedes has given the inside of the GLC a serious refresh for 2020, and we're loving it. The GLC's cabin is now modern as ever, with the availability of a digital instrument cluster and the standard fitment of the new MBUX infotainment interface. The interior remains refined and premium, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better place to spend your daily commute. In terms of space, the GLC is on par with competitors, though its rear real estate is slightly better than that of the X3. An all-round luxurious experience is offered by the cabin of the GLC, and comfort is first and foremost.
Seating space leaves little to be desired for an SUV in this segment, though it falls slightly behind certain competitors in terms of rear headroom thanks to its slightly sloped roofline. The SUV easily manages four adults (it'll seat five overall), with ample space in the front, and a rear legroom measurement of 37.3 inches falls slightly behind the Audi Q5's offering of 37.8 inches. The GLC offers more interior space than both of its mentioned rivals, both in the front and in the back, and the seats are comfortable even on longer journeys. Power-adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar support are standard and ventilated front seats will cost an additional $450. If you'd like to add heated seats to the back, you'll be in for an extra cost of $580. Ingress and egress are easy feats thanks to the height of the GLC and its aptly sized doors.
Mercedes makes an extensive range of standard MB-Tex leatherette options available for the GLC including Black, Silk Beige, Magma Grey, AMG Saddle Brown, AMG Cranberry Red, and AMG Black. Six genuine leather upholstery options are available in the same shades for an additional $1,620, and the most premium upholstery offering is a designo combination of Platinum White Pearl and Black Nappa leather, quilt-stitched for added razzle. Five no-cost trim options are available including Natural Grain Brown Ash wood, Dark Brown Linden wood, Natural Grain Walnut wood, Natural Grain Grey Oak wood and our personal favorite, the Black Ash wood with Aluminum.
BMW has made it very difficult for rivals to overtake it in terms of trunk space, and though the GLC beats the X3 with outright interior seating space, the X3 puts the GLC's trunk offering to shame. The Merc has a trunk capacity of 19.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats, which pales in comparison to the X3's 28.7 cubic-foot offering. The GLC does, however, manage to best the Lexus NX's 17.7 cubic foot trunk. It may have a much smaller trunk in comparison to the X3, but the compact Merc will allow for two large suitcases and a carry-on without impeding rearward visibility. In-cabin storage is manageable thanks to a center console bin beneath the armrest and additional binnacles beneath the climate controls, but the door pockets are slim. A generous glove box allows for a glasses case or two, and two cupholders can be found in the front, along with two in the rear.
The GLC offers a host of standard convenience features, though we're left wanting a little more, especially considering that the SUV bears a price tag that's upwards of $42,500. The absence of a panoramic sunroof and keyless go as standard features is somewhat disappointing. Nevertheless, the GLC's standard features include heated power-adjustable front seats with four-way power-adjustable lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, and a multifunction steering wheel. If you want some added extras, though, you'll have to opt for the additional tri-zone climate control and the wireless charging for a combined cost of $960. Other additionally available options include ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a hands-free tailgate option. For safety features, crosswind assist and brake assist are standard along with driver attention assist and blind-spot monitoring. Extra safety features are available under the Driver Assistance Package such as active distance assist and route-based top speed adaptation offer semi-autonomous capabilities.
The GLC's old COMAND interface makes way for an impressive suite of conveniences thanks to the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment suite, though you'll need to revise the budget if you want a fully equipped GLC. A lot of the SUVs desirables are additionally available, but standard features include a 10.25-inch touchscreen that enables Merc's cockpit control system, dubbed "MBUX" with voice control as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth and HD Radio are brought to life by a premium FrontBass system, but an even better 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system is available. Two USB ports come standard along with a household-type 115V power outlet. Add-ons like the 12.3-inch digital cluster will cost $750 and SiriusXM becomes available under the $500 Premium Package. A navigation system and live traffic information become available under the Multimedia Package for $1,250.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Glass range has been at the center of three recalls for issues including an inaccurate location being sent to emergency services in the event of an accident, an unsecured driver's airbag, and active brake assist not engaging properly. The 2019 model didn't fare much better and was victim to five recalls for issues including a loss of electric power steering and an incorrect display of the passenger airbag status. If reliability is a concern, Mercedes-Benz offers a basic warranty of four years/50,000 miles and a drivetrain warranty that's valid for the same time period and mileage limit.
While the NHTSA has not yet done a comprehensive review of the Mercedes GLC-Class, it did award it five stars for the side crash and rollover tests. The IIHS gave it the highest available scores of "good" in six of its crashworthiness tests.
A substantial suite of safety features comes standard with the GLC, and the SUV manages to offer much more in this department than its rivals. The SUV has a rearview camera, crosswind assist, and active brake assist as well as driver-attention assist as standard. Blind spot monitoring is standard along with adaptive braking technology and Pre-Safe Sound. A seven-airbag system is employed by the SUV and includes dual-front, front side, driver's knee, and side curtain airbags. Adding the additionally available Driver Assistance package will welcome active distance assist and steering assist as well as emergency braking for traffic and lane keep assist. Lane change assist and blind-spot assist are also added under the $1,700 package. For $1,290, the Parking Assistance Package adds active parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, a surround-view system, and hands-free access.
The GLC manages to perform well in many categories that are important for the segment. On paper, it manages to be more powerful than both of its rivals, even if acceleration time is a sliver slower. The downfall is that the Merc offers subpar fuel economy for the segment and the BMW X3 is considerably more thrifty. Its seating space beats rivals but doesn't come without sacrifice and the GLC's trunk is bested greatly by the X3 and Audi Q5. Still, space in the rearmost part of the SUV is certainly manageable. Notably, the Mercedes' interior is better than rivals, especially with the new MBUX infotainment system. It's just unfortunate that if you want a truly commendable GLC, you'll have to fork out a considerable amount of extra cash for the additional packages. Another niggly bit would be that the GLC is absent of desirable standard conveniences like keyless go and a panoramic sunroof, and is more expensive than most rivals, which means it has to work that much harder to impress. It's a good choice if you've got a flexible budget and you're willing to add additional options, but other rivals may be better at their base levels.
With an MSRP of $42,500, the GLC's price at base level is more expensive than both the X3 and the Lexus NX at their respective starting points in the USA. Opting for the 4MATIC-equipped GLC 300 will drive the price up by an extra $2,000 to $44,500. This is more expensive than the BMW xDrive30i which offers a notable amount of extra features in comparison to the GLC 300. These prices have the potential to skyrocket when one starts tallying up additional packages. A $995 destination fee is applicable to your purchase of the GLC-Class SUV.
Two trim levels comprise the GLC-Class SUV range, the GLC 300 and the GLC 300 4MATIC. Both models share the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic gearbox, but the GLC 300 comes equipped with all-wheel-drive when under the 4MATIC moniker.
Both models sit on a set of 18-inch wheels, the front and rear end boasts LED lighting and keyless entry is available while push-button start is standard. Other standard convenience features on both models include power-adjustable heated seats, dual-zone climate control, and a multifunction steering wheel. The infotainment system has seen an upgrade for 2020 and the inside of the GLC now boasts MBUX as standard. This cockpit control system is embedded on a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and a digital instrument cluster is optionally available. The standard infotainment system allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth streaming, and two USB ports are standard. For the suite of safety features, a rearview camera, crosswind assist and active brake assist are standard along with driver attention assist and blind spot monitoring.
Additional packages are made available for the GLC 300, and unfortunately, quite a few are regarded as must-haves. For one, the head-up display and the digital instrument cluster are highly recommended for an even better interior and when combined, will cost $1,850. The Multimedia Package adds a navigation system and live traffic information for $1,250, and the Premium Package adds keyless-go, SiriusXM and 64-color ambient lighting for an extra cost of $500. Adding the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package adds a large amount of extra safety features including active steering assist, active brake assist, emergency braking in traffic, and speed limit assist as well as lane keep assist, lane change assist, and active blind-spot monitoring. The Parking Assistance Package adds a surround-view camera and active parking assist with rear cross-traffic alert for $1,290. For extra luxury, the optional Burmester sound system costs $850.
If your area isn't prone to a lot of rain or snow, the 4MATIC may not be necessary, so if you're in a sunny state, you might as well save a few thousand dollars and go for the GLC 300. We'd recommend the RWD-based SUV, with a couple of must-have additional packages. For the interior, we'd opt for the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the head-up display, and the Multimedia Package. Bolster the safety of the GLC 300 with the addition of the Driver Assistance package and you have a nearly fully equipped GLC with a final asking price of $47,300.
Just under $12,000 separates these two Mercedes SUV siblings in their base trims, with the GLC crossover being the more affordable of the two. The price tag isn't the only difference, and the GLE is considerably larger both outside and inside, offering more space for its occupants and their luggage than its smaller cousin. The GLE is also noticeably more luxurious than the GLC, with some extra standard features, but the two share the same engine when the GLE is left in base 350 guise. But with this, the GLE's larger dimensions mean that it is less economical than the GLC with EPA estimates of 20/27/22 mpg. A benefit of the GLE lineup would be that a more powerful engine option is available, while the GLC only offers one in non-AMG guise. Ultimately, the better car depends on how much you're willing to loosen your purse strings. The GLE is a better SUV, but it costs a whole lot more.
While a new generation GLA is US-bound for 2021, the 2020 model is one of our least favorite Mercedes products. In an effort to reduce prices, corners were cut when it came to interior material quality, and while it may look the part, it doesn't feel it. That's not all, though, the GLA is significantly less powerful than the GLC and it's smaller, too. The smaller Merc also comes standard-equipped with FWD at base level compared to the GLC's rear-wheel-drive system. The GLA is a lot more affordable than the bigger, more premium GLC, but its lower price is obvious when you put the two together and the GLA lacks many of the standard features found on its bigger relative. A better buy would be the GLC in this scenario, well worth the extra $8,000 premium it commands.
Check out some informative Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV video reviews below.