The Car Connection Mercedes-Benz GLC Class Overview
The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is a compact crossover SUV that replaced the GLK, but looks almost nothing like it.
The GLC-Class sits at the large end of the compact luxury SUV segment in the U.S. market. It faces a tough set of rivals including the Range Rover Discovery Sport, BMW X3, Volvo XC60, and Audi Q5, as well as the Lincoln MKC and upcoming Jaguar F-Pace.
For 2017, the GLC lineup expanded with the introduction of an AMG-tuned GLC43 that delivers more performance than the GLC300. For 2018, Mercedes added an even more powerful 503-hp GLC63 S. Changes for 2019 were minimal but the GLC was updated with a new infotainment system, a subtle restyle, and a 255-hp turbo-4 for 2020.
MORE: Read our 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class review
The former GLK had a design that was angular and squared-off, with an ample greenhouse, more chiseled corners and upright pillars. In contrast, the GLC makes an about-face in design, adopting a softer, sleeker, and more rounded look that echoes what’s seen in the latest GLE family (formerly the M-Class).
Inside, the GLC borrows some of the best elements of the C-Class design, including a clean, horizontally oriented dash design, flanked with round vents and a wide center console. Lavish detailing, including beveled metallic trims and plush, soft-touch elements add up to an interior ambiance above most of this segment.
The GLC lineup consists of the rear-wheel-drive GLC300 and all-wheel-drive GLC300 4Matic models, plus the Mercedes-AMG GLC43. Both of the 300s are powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Shifts are handled by a 9-speed automatic transmission, with drive modes including Eco that allows extended coasting for enhanced fuel economy. For 2020, the turbo-4 was upgraded to 255 hp.
The GLC is nearly five inches longer in wheelbase than the GLK it succeeds, as well as slightly taller and wider. That extra length especially goes to back-seat leg room, but overall interior space is significantly improved. The cargo floor is both longer and wider than before, and the GLC offers easier loading thanks to the available air suspension.
Built on underpinnings derived from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the GLC-Class sheds as much as 300 pounds in some forms thanks to novel construction that incorporates carbon fiber, aluminum, and high-strength steel. Safety is expected to be improved versus the GLK, and occupant safety is aided by new airbags plus a slew of active-safety systems, which can include automatic braking, active lane-keeping, and active blind-spot assist, among other features.
Infotainment systems follow Mercedes-Benz’s current strategy of standalone screens, with a combination of a touchpad and rotary controller. A head-up display is newly offered in the GLC, and high-end Burmester sound is available, with various other options that upgrade trims, materials, and the GLC’s general look. For 2020, the model added Mercedes' new infotainment software and became available with a digital instrument cluster.
The GLC-Class hit the U.S. market in fall of 2015 as a 2016 model. For 2017, Mercedes added a Coupe model to the lineup—essentially the same vehicle but with a sloped rear roofline and a lowered suspension, meant as a sporty Benz alternative to vehicles such as the BMW X4.
Also in the 2017 model year, Mercedes announced the GLC43 AMG, a higher-performance version of the Coupe. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged V-6 with 362 hp, coupled to a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Mercedes says the GLC43 can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds on its way to a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.