2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e: Plug-in hybrid SUV struggles to justify its premium price
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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e: Plug-in hybrid SUV struggles to justify its premium price

Roadshow
Tucked into the GLC class lineup is this the 2019 Mercedes Benz GLC 350e formatic at power. Those Germans sure do love their long as names, but the important parts are the E and EQ power, which indicate that this is an electrified vehicle. Specifically, it's a plugin hybrid. But in 2019, hybrid doesn't always necessarily mean green, even when there's a plug attached to it. So grab shotgun with me in this 350 E, and we'll find out if that's the case here. And why this probably wouldn't be my first choice for a compact luxury SUV. Let's hit the road. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Okay, so let's start with the nuts and bolts. The GLC 350 E is powered by a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that's mated with an 85 kilowatt electric motor And together they make 315 horsepower, and 413 pound feet of torque. And they put that to all four wheels via a seven-speed transmission. Now that's two fewer gears than then non-hybrid GLC, a decision which Mercedes said was necessary because of the additional torque that this thing puts out was just too much for the nine-speed Forward torque's always good, so I think we're off to a pretty good start. Now every hybrid needs its battery and plug-ins even more so. So in the way back, we've got an 8.7 kilowatt hour lithium ion battery pack that after a two and a half hour charge at a level two station gets you between 10 and 20 miles of electric range, depending on whether you believe the EPA or Benz's numbers. Let's just split the difference and call it 15 miles. You charge that battery by a port that's located at the passenger's corner of the rear bumper. A placement that's good for design, but I worry about its crash-worthiness. Not that I think it's unsafe, I'm sure Benz figured all of that out, but I'm concerned with the additional cost that you'll incur When after a fender bender you have to replace not just the bumper but also the charging port and the charging doors and all the hardware that goes along with that, I think they probably could have thought that through a little bit better. If you lift the rear hatch, you'll notice that the loading floor has been raised slightly to make room for the battery pack. And that's gonna cost you about 5 1/2 cubic feet of storage space. There's not a whole lot in the grand [UNKNOWN] of things but it bares mentioning when you consider that people buy SUVs, partially for their capaciousness. For the trouble, the hybrid system returns an EPA estimated 27 miles per gallon combined In it's hybrid operation mode. That's only two more than the nonhybrid GLC which is disappointing. However, that doesn't include the ten miles of electric range you get from a full charge which we'll get back to in a second. First let's talk about what it's like to drive this thing. As a hybrid it doesn't idle it's engine when you're stopped and it's often operating in electric mode so the powertrain is really quiet. Combine that with Benz's legendary build quality and the $1900 air suspension that we're riding on, and you've got yourself a really comfortable ride. And with 400 plus pound feet of torque, it's got really good get up and go. Floor it and the thing will do 0 to 60 in 6.2 seconds, which is impressive for a car of this size. However I noticed a little bit of hesitation between flooring it, and actually getting that acceleration. Particularly when you catch the transmission, or the hybrid system sleeping. There's definitely some noticable lag, and some jerkiness when shifting into reverse, and trying to get onto the gas quickly. Which makes parallel parking this thing not super fun. [MUSIC] [BLANK_AUDIO] But overall it's a really comfortable car. And it wouldn't be a bad choice for a luxury compact SUV, but it wouldn't my choice. And that's only partially due to the increased complexity of the hybrid system. It's mostly to do with the tech. Now, the GLC is a very luxurious vehicle in the traditional sense, but if Cabin technology and safety tech is what you're looking for from a luxury car you're gonna be a little disappointed. In the dashboard we've got an older version of Mercedes' Command System, which sort of pales in comparison to what Audi's doing with say the Q5. And on the safety technology side the lane keeping technology in this car feels really outdated and inconsistent compared to what Volvo's doing with the XC60. The lack of efficiency from the hybrid system is just sort of the nail in the coffin, which brings us to the part where I got to do a little bit math. Don't click away, I promise I'll keep it simple. Let's say your commute is 30 miles into the office, and you have a fully charged battery in the morning. That gives you about 15 miles of free range at the beginning. Yeah, I know you pay for the electricity, but you don't feel that pinch the same way you do at the pump. A the end of the trip you're averaging, best case scenario, let's say 50 miles per gallon. And if you have a shorter commute you have a larger percentage of time on electric power which means that you're efficient. Efficiency actually goes up. However, the other side of that coin is that if your commute is longer, then your efficiency goes down. So if you can't charge up at the office, your commute home is gonna bring you closer to that 27 mile per gallon combined estimate, which is a little bit disappointing. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] It's only a little bit more green, but the 2019 GLC 350E will cost you a lot more green to hit the road in. It starts at around fifty thousand dollars, but this example right here tips the scale closer to sixty-eight thousand bucks. That's because the only things Germans like more than long model names is really expensive packages and options. Either way you slice it, you're looking at around $6,000 more than the non-hybrid GL fee, which is just another reason why I'm not exactly feeling the love connection here.

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