The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC is an all-new design, which renames and evolves the previous GLK Class SUV into a smoother, more streamlined model. Overall the GLC is bigger and longer, yet thanks to extensive use of materials like aluminum and high/ultra-high strength steel, it is also 176 pounds lighter than the GLK, something always appreciated by those in the market for a capable SUV. The GLC is based on the C-Class sedan and the new SUV features many carryover components from the sedan.
Available in either a rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the GLC300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L four. It is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and produces 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, which is available at a quite-usable 1,300 rpm. The powertrain features five distinct driving modes, including Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, which allows drivers to fine-tune responsiveness in the throttle, steering, and suspension systems. When equipped with 4MATIC, power is split with 45 percent to the front and 55 percent to the rear.
The more powerful AMG GLC43 comes equipped with 4MATIC as a standard feature. It uses the same 9-speed transmission as the GLC300 but with new programming that produces faster shift times. That means less interruption as the 3.0L twin turbocharged V6 accelerates drivers forward with huge amounts of urgency. The GLC43 makes 362 horsepower, completely changing the demeanor of the compact crossover vehicle, making it aggressive, fast and fun to drive.
Suspension is handled with steel springs and variable damping via a four-link system with upper wishbones up front, while the rear benefits from a 5-link setup. When Sport+ mode is engaged, the GLC's chassis decreases height by an inch.
Standard features in the GLC include 18-inch alloy wheels, power folding mirrors, power tailgate, keyless start, a rearview camera, and power driver's seat with memory. Also included are a 7-inch color display with media interface which is Internet-capable and Bluetooth hands-free connected. When outfitted with Garmin Map Pilot, the system provides navigation, while a Burmester sound system provides concert hall music quality.
A host of advanced safety features are also standard, like Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Pre-Safe collision preparation with automatic braking and Crosswind Stabilization.
Interiors can be upholstered in various combinations of MB-Tex, leather or Napa leather in black, silk beige, espresso brown, saddle brown and platinum white. Standard wood inlays accent the interior, while the dash is reminiscent of that found in the C-Class sedan.
Several options have the potential to set the GLC apart. These include 19- and 20-inch wheels, aluminum-look running boards, and a panoramic glass roof. For easy access to the cargo area, optional Air Body Control air suspension lowers the GLC nearly two inches and a hands-free access liftgate opens automatically simply by swiping a foot beneath the rear bumper. Multi-color ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel and heated front and rear seats are also available.
A Sport Package adds AMG body styling with 19-inch AMG wheels and a sport braking system. The unique Air Balance Package features a replaceable LED-backlit vial in the glovebox with its own ductwork, which disperses one of four intra-cabin fragrances through an atomizer. The Multimedia Package features COMAND hard-drive navigation with an 8.4-inch screen, while the Driver Assistance Package adds active blind spot assist, speed limit assist, lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control and more.
When last I settled behind the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, I came away largely impressed with the design and performance. But I also complained loudly about the outdated COMAND cabin tech, not to mention all the missing driver-assistance features.
I don't usually expect much from mid-cycle model refreshes -- maybe a bit more power, a massaged look or new headlamps -- but Mercedes, it seems, has listened to my pleas. The updated 2020 GLC-Class now boasts the company's new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment suite in the dashboard and a host of advanced driver assistance systems, along with a few other minor tweaks.
For 2020, it's out with the old and in with the new MBUX infotainment system, housed in a 10.25-inch display. Yes, it still has a goofy-looking tablet-tacked-onto-the-dash design, and the bezels are still pretty meaty but the screen uses a higher-resolution display and the wider aspect is a more efficient use of the dashboard's visual space.
The Good ~ New MBUX tech is a huge upgrade ~ Driver-assistance tech has also been updated ~ Understated design still feels modern
The Bad ~ Mid-class fuel economy doesn't improve ~ Pricey and numerous options quickly inflate the price
The Bottom Line With its modernized tech and tasteful styling upgrades, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 continues to be one of our favorite small luxury SUVs.
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