Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Pros and Cons Review: Minor Improvements for a Major Winner
- More power
- Great looks
- Comfortable cabin
- MBUX sux
- Decreased efficiency on the volume model
- Inability to innovate
When the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class won our SUV of the Year award in 2017, we recognized that it wasn’t the sexiest choice, but it was the smartest. “The design is solid, the interior is first class, the engineering is as good as small SUVs, and the value proposition is strong… and despite surprising us all with its power, the displacement of only 2.0 liters means the engine is also appallingly efficient.
For our 2021 SUV of the Year competition, the revised Mercedes-Benz GLC looks to join a select club of recurring mid-cycle update winners.
See other 2021 SUV of the Year contenders and finalists here
Our European readers will find that a revamped Air Body Control suspension system has gone from the GLE (and the AMG GLC 43 and 63) to the base GLC models. This is not available on the US GLC 300 and GLC 350e, which are content with a simpler automatic adaptive system.
All is not bad for this United States; US buyers of GLC will find revamped powertrains in non-AMG iterations. The base GLC 300’s 2.0-liter turbo-four receives a new twin-scroll turbo and a few other internal changes, increasing horsepower from 241 to 255 (torque is unchanged), and the standard nine-speed automobile is readjusted to handle the updated engine. Fuel economy drops by 1 mpg city / highway.
More interestingly, the GLC 350e rechargeable hybrid undergoes major changes, including a larger battery, an on-board charger improved to reduce charge times, and a more powerful electric motor. Total system power for the 2.0-liter turbo-four and combo engine is 315 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, and the electric-only range drops from just 10 miles to 22 miles estimated by the EPA.
All GLCs receive a slightly reworked sheet metal and revised interior, with larger digital screens and Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system. We have requested both a GLC 300 and a GLC 350e for evaluation, but the pandemic has delayed the release of the plug-in hybrid.
Even with the only base variant present, the GLC 300 was quick to remind us why it was a past winner. By simply driving from our staging area to the start of our loop, the GLC makes you feel pampered. Like a good luxury vehicle should be, the GLC is comfortable, efficient and relatively quiet, and it asks nothing of you. It doesn’t make you drive harder or slow down. It’s comfortable and hassle-free transportation, wrapping you in luxurious interior touches.
The added power goes smoothly, but the engine sounds louder and feels coarser than the previous one. The nine-speed of the GLC seems to behave better than before, however, it is smoother in operation and feels faster to change than in the pre-update GLC.
The slightly updated interior is a pretty nice place. The Baroque-themed cabin is spacious and comfortable, and it certainly feels upscale, although Genesis and Volvo, among others, are quickly catching up with (and even overtaking) the venerable GLC when it comes to advancement in design.
The replacement of Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system with MBUX drew mostly negative reviews. While MBUX adds features – including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a “Hey, Mercedes” voice assistant – it makes simple tasks extremely difficult. “MBUX needs more UX,” said editor Ed Loh. “Basic operations like skipping to the next track on the audio system are extremely difficult. They found a solution to a problem that no one had. “
Ultimately, the relatively minor updates to the GLC mean it’s still a wonderful compact luxury SUV that sits near the top of its class. We always recommend it.
|2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC|
|Base price / as tested||$ 45,495 / $ 55,455|
|Power (SAE network)||255 hp at 5,800 rpm|
|Torque (SAE thread)||273 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|Accel, 0-60 mph||6.5 seconds|
|Quarter mile||15.0 s at 91.8 mph|
|Braking, 60-0 mph||112 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||0.85 g (average)|
|MT figure eight||26.9 s at 0.65 g (average)|
|EPA City / Hwy / Comb||21/28/24 mpg|
|Vehicle layout||Front-engine 4-door SUV, all-wheel drive, 5 passengers|
|Engine / transmission||2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4/9-speed automatic turbo engine|
|Empty weight (Dist F / R)||4063 lbs (53/47%)|
|Length x Width x Height||183.8 x 74.8 x 65.5 inches|
|Energy consumption, city / highway||160/120 kW-h / 100 miles|
|CO2 emissions, comb||0.82 lbs / mile|
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