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.
Let's not bury the lede here: Benz's compact plug-in hybrid SUV, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e 4Matic EQ Power, would not be my first choice in its small class.
The 2019 GLC's COMAND cabin technology is confusing, inconsistent and outdated even within Benz's own lineup. During my week of testing, I'd also be disappointed by the 350e's EQ Power plug-in hybrid powertrain which feels like an efficiency half-step that doesn't add much to the SUV's overall appeal beyond extra cost and complexity.
True, the compact GLC platform has really good bones -- it's comfortable, quiet and feels nicely luxurious -- but the details feel just dated enough to cost the GLC350e my recommendation over the strong competition.
The Good The smooth EQ Power plug-in hybrid powertrain makes the GLC's already quiet cabin feel even more luxurious. The GLC350e boasts significantly more torque, which makes passing and cruising feel more confident and effortless.
The Bad The PHEV only offers about 10 miles of electric range per 2.5-hour charge and doesn't offer much more of an efficiency bump beyond that. The battery pack costs a few cubic feet of storage space. The COMAND infotainment feels outdated and confusing to use, despite a patchwork of updates.
The Bottom Line Though there's much to like about the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e EQ Power, the plug-in hybrid doesn't add much beyond cost and complexity over the nonhybrid version.
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