by Jared Rosenholtz
Building on the refinement of the GLC-Class SUV, the hybrid 350e takes all that opulent luxury, with just the right splash of athleticism, and blends it with new green undertones. The base 241 horsepower turbo inline-four gets paired with an 85 kW motor to deliver a combined 315 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. Fully charged, this electric motor is able to single-handedly power the car for up to ten miles before the engine switches over to gasoline propulsion. Unfortunately, the extra space that this combination powertrain takes up means you will have a smaller fuel tank and less overall range, but it will save you money in the long run, and the environment will thank you. All this comes at a slightly higher initial investment of $50,650, which in this compact luxury SUV segment lines it up against Swedish opposition in the guise of the Volvo XC60.
For 2019, the GLC 350e gets heated front seats and a 115-volt power outlet as standard features. Tri-zone climate control and 20-inch alloy wheels are available, and two new paint colors are offered to buyers.
Sporting the same stylish looks as the GLC 300, the hybrid variant has a large grille up front playing host to the three-point star. Sleek LED head- and taillights are standard with LED daytime running lights, while 18-inch alloy wheels fill the broad arches in the chassis. Larger 20-inch wheels are available. A power glass sunroof sits atop the cabin.
The hybrid SUV is on par with most other compact luxury crossovers, measuring 183.3 inches in length, 82.5 in width, and 65.3 inches in height - 0.6 inches taller than the non-hybrid version. The same is true for wheelbase at 113.1 inches, as well as curb weight, with the 350e weighing in at 4,564 lbs, which is 675 lbs more than the standard GLC 300.
A combination engine powers the GLC 350e, with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder covering the gasoline side of the equation while an 85 kW plug-in electric motor deals with the electric side. Together, these two components deliver 315 hp and 413 lb-ft to all four wheels. Handling all this power is a seven-speed automatic gearbox with available shift paddles. This transmission is slightly less advanced than the nine-speed automatic standard on the rest of the GLC range.
Nevertheless, the hybrid has more than enough power to get you around town in a hurry, with the combo engine hurtling the small crossover to 60 mph in a smooth 6.2 seconds. Passing on the highway is a breeze for this eco-friendly luxury SUV, and short trips around town are quick and economical if you can keep the electric motor powered up. In terms of towing, the GLC-Class SUV is rated at 3,500 lbs.
While the combo engine makes the hybrid 350e more fuel-efficient, it doesn't detract from the driving experience. In fact, the engine is rated to perform slightly better than the regular SUV's. However, this increased power is somewhat offset by the extra 675 lbs of weight that comes with the different powertrain. Still, driving the hybrid will deliver the same amount of fun as the regular SUV.
With multiple drive modes on offer, almost every aspect of the experience can be customized. If you want more responsive and engaging steering, then Sport mode spices up the somewhat uncommunicative steering with improved feedback and more weight. Similarly, Comfort mode complements the already upscale and plush interior to better smooth out any bumps or imperfections in the road. Coupled with a well-insulated cabin, you may find that the only thing reminding you that you are moving is the purr of the engine leaking through. Sticking with the smaller wheel options will ensure that the ride remains as smooth as possible.
Even though the GLC isn't a very large SUV, it's still bigger than the average vehicle, which makes its refined handling all the more impressive. It remains poised while cornering, with electronic stability and crosswind assist ensuring that it never loses balance. Body roll isn't an issue unless you're really flooring it, and the brakes are quite adequate though a bit clingy, with a marginally longer than average stopping distance.
While hybrids are generally more economical when it comes to fuel consumption and mileage, the Mercedes GLC 350e doesn't really shine when compared with other hybrids. When utilizing its electric motor, it gets 56 MPGe, but this is only applicable over the first 10 miles. After this, the engine switches over to normal hybrid dynamics, consuming premium gasoline to get 25 mpg over the combined cycle. Other hybrids, like the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX 450h, get much better economy at 28 and 30 mpg respectively, and these aren't even plug-ins. With its relatively small 13.2-gallon tank, the GLC 350e only gets around 350 miles between refuels. While this total range is less than the normal GLC 300 4Matic SUV, which gets 24 mpg combined, it will cost you less in the long run. When connected to a Level II charger, the battery takes two hours to charge fully.
The interior is as stylish and luxurious as you could hope from a compact luxury SUV. With space for up to five passengers, the standard MB-Tex seats are comfortable for even the longest of rides. Head- and legroom are quite impressive for the segment, both up front and in the rear, with even tall drivers and passengers fitting in without too much trouble. Entry and exit are made easy thanks to the low step-in height. The power front seats also make finding a great driving position effortless, allowing you to optimize the already great visibility.
Cargo space is sufficient, at around 14 cubic feet - five fewer than the standard GLC 300 - but nothing spectacular for the segment. Still, it is enough space for your shopping, golf clubs, and kids' school bags. If you need to pack in a few boxes, you can stack them quite high thanks to the high, boxy roof. And if you need to move larger items, you can fold down the rear seats in a 40/20/40 split, freeing up a total of 51 cubic feet of space. However, you may struggle to fit particularly wide items in, thanks to the middle seat not folding down very far.
Small-item storage is decent, with a few trays around the console for phones or keys, and quite deep door pockets. The center armrest provides space for larger items, but this is also where the USB ports linked to the infotainment system are found.
The GLC 350e doesn't lack when it comes to features. Safety is covered by automatic emergency braking, active brake assist, driver-attention assist, rain-sense wipers, a rearview camera, and the Pre-Safe suite of safety features. Other standard features include power front seats with position memory, heated front seats, 40/20/40 split fold-down rear seats, a power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone climate control, and a multifunction drive-assist display. Optional add-ons with packages comprise blind-spot assist, active driver-assist features, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and tri-zone climate control.
The infotainment suite is a bit difficult to use, and while it's not the best Mercedes has to offer, it's still pretty darn impressive. Standard fare includes a seven-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, dual USB ports, HD Radio, an eight-speaker sound system with CD playback, and a three-year subscription to Mercedes me connect services. With the host of packages on offer, you can also get COMAND Navigation, SiriusXM Radio and Traffic, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
J.D. Power rates the GLC 350e at 84 out of 100 for dependability. The GLC-Class was recalled three times in 2018 for faulty airbags, and once in 2017 for similar problems. There were also sunroof issues in 2017. In terms of warranties, a limited warranty, powertrain warranty, and roadside assist are all offered for 50,000-miles/48-months.
The 2018 GLC-Class SUV was awarded five stars for safety by the NHTSA, while the IIHS gave the 2019 edition an overall rating of Good. It was also awarded the IIHS' Top Safety Pick + award. This is no doubt due to the extensive range of safety features that come standard with the vehicle, such as standard automatic emergency braking, electronic stability, seven airbags, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe suite of features. Optional add-ons include Pre-Safe Plus, blind-spot assist, and active safety features in the form of steering assist, brake assist, blind-spot assist, and lane-keep assist.
With its foundations in the GLC-Class SUV, the 350e hybrid already has a lot going for it. Impressive performance figures, an opulent interior, loads of features - both safety and entertainment - and more athletic driving characteristics than you might expect from a vehicle so large. However, it improves on the base 300 4Matic's lackluster fuel economy by introducing the combo gas/electric engine.
This setup allows the hybrid SUV to add a little extra pep to its acceleration while still being significantly cheaper around town, so long as you can stop at home to recharge between outings. Unfortunately, this overall improved cost of ownership comes at a significantly higher capital investment of $50,650. You also need to sacrifice quite a bit of cargo space to make room for the extra powertrain elements. This is quite a big deal in an SUV that already has a smaller-than-average trunk.
At the end of the day, the GLC 350e hybrid SUV will save you money, and it will be less harmful to the environment, but if either of those factors are your primary concern, there are better options out there. Both the Lexus RX 450h and Volvo XC60 Hybrid give better fuel economy and comparable levels of luxury, all while supplying more cargo room. But they do sacrifice in terms of fun. The Mercedes hybrid is a good car, no doubt, but it doesn't seem to try hard enough to tick all the boxes that make a hybrid great.
The 350e hybrid comes in a bit more expensive than the regular SUV variant, but it is still quite reasonably priced for a luxury SUV at $50,650 MSRP. This is less than the Volvo XC60 but more than Lexus' hybrid SUVs. This price excludes tax, registration, licensing, and Mercedes' $995 destination charge. Driving the hybrid will qualify you for up to $4,460 in tax rebates, but not available at the time of purchase. Various hybrid incentives are available in various states.
|GLC 350e 4MATIC||
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
The GLC hybrid only comes in one trim level, the 350e. It comes well-equipped as standard, with extensive safety features and an adequate infotainment suite. The lack of some more modern conveniences like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a bit annoying, but it's easily remedied with one of the many add-ons available. Without going overboard, we suggest the Premium Package and Smartphone Integration Package. If you want to step it up a notch, you can opt for the Multimedia Package, but this does restrict you from adding the Smartphone Package.
With a slightly higher starting MSRP of $52,900, the Volvo XC60 offers a lot. The interior is plush and stylish, power from the hybrid engine is impressive, and the list of available features is long indeed. And with a truly impressive amount of cargo space for a hybrid - 29.7 cubic feet to be exact - the SUV has a lot to recommend it. Where the Volvo disappoints, however, is in its clumsy handling, vague steering, and grabby brakes. The GLC 350e is lithe and athletic by comparison. Overall, the Volvo isn't as fun to drive, but it offers more utility and better fuel economy, both gas and electric. Overall the Volvo offers better daily practicality, but at this price bracket, don't you want a little fun too?
While the Lexus claims to be a luxury SUV, it falls short of the mark in several areas, so the cheaper $46,245 price tag is no surprise. The interior is spacious, comfortable, and extremely well-designed. It even gives the premium brands, like Mercedes and BMW, a run for their money. It also manages to be eminently practical as an everyman's vehicle with its larger 18 cubic feet of cargo space and its impressive fuel economy. It doesn't want for features, but segment-leading rivals offer more, and higher-quality tech, too. However, the RX doesn't perform quite as well as the Merc GLC. Don't get us wrong, it is adequate for a more economy-oriented hybrid, despite lacking plug-in elements, but it doesn't have the same athleticism. Ultimately, though, the Lexus RX450h does everything you would want a hybrid to do, and it does it well. There is room for improvement, but this is a hard hybrid to beat!