2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
June 12, 2017

Buying tip

Watch the options closely as it's easy to see your dream GLC's stick price climb by as much as $10,000.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class makes a terrific combination of the features and practical needs most buyers want in an attractive package.

Complementing the automaker's C-Class sedan, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is a well thought-out compact crossover that offers its own swoopy styling and attractive range of engines.

The GLC is available as both a conventional crossover and a "coupe" with a more aggressively sloping roof line and it can be had in both GLC300 and AMG-tuned GLC43 variants. We've scored it a 7.0 out of 10 overall based on its generally classy and competent feel. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

GLC300 models can feel a little bland, but that's where the new-for-2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 comes into play. Aside from that new model with its 362-horsepower twin-turbo V-6, the GLC lineup is now available with a saddle leather interior and there's a new blue exterior shade on offer.

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Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class styling and performance 

At first look, there’s absolutely no doubt that it’s all in the family with the GLC-Class. Last year, the GLC replaced the boxy GLK, a model largely derided as being out of step with American buyer tastes. The GLC, however, has moved to a more rounded profile with softer details—yet a front-end design that’s far more striking. It now closely resembles the GLE-Class—to the degree that if you don’t see it next to one, you might be left wondering which one you’re seeing.

The GLC Coupe, meanwhile, follows Mercedes convention as well. Its roofline slopes back more aggressively, which digs into tall item cargo space but presents a more distinctive, stylish look. It's not for everyone, but we mostly like the execution here better than in the BMW X4. 

Inside, the GLC is almost a dead-ringer for the C-Class—which, well, borrows heavily from the rest of the lineup. If you've been in a recent Mercedes and have liked the look, the swoopy, circular styling inside the GLC will please you. It shares much with the C, especially in the dash, where it follows a rather horizontal look that’s bisected by a wide center console and center stack and a cluster of round vents, with a standalone infotainment screen standing atop it. The inlaid metallic bezels and soft-touch materials add up to a bejeweled look that used to be reserved for the brand’s most expensive models. It's not as orderly and Germanic as, say, the Audi Q5, but the GLC's interior works well and is much roomier than the old GLK was. There's more rear leg space thanks to a longer wheelbase and a couple of inches more height. 

The GLC300, available in rear- and 4Matic all-wheel drive models, are both powered by a frisky 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 making 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (at a very accessible, diesel-like 1,300 rpm). It’s paired up with a 9-speed automatic transmission, and we found the powertrain combination in an to be responsive and very smooth in all but some low-speed driving. The powertrain also has Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual modes, each with control over the drive system, steering, and suspension (if equipped). The Eco mode maximizes long-distance coasting by freeing the wheels; a smoother body with a long list of aero measures also help boost fuel economy significantly over the outgoing gasoline models.

The GLC43, meanwhile, ups the game with 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque from a twin-turbo 3.0-lier V-6. Its suspension, engine, and steering were massaged by Mercedes' internal performance division, AMG, and it feels every bit the part of a performance crossover thanks to a ride that is firm but sufficiently forgiving for day-to-day use. 

All variants ride on a four-link front suspension with upper wishbones, and a five-link rear axle. The 4Matic all-wheel drive system sends torque to the front and rear wheels in a 45/55-split, via a planetary differential—with the stability-control system helping it get traction to the wheels that need it.

A steel-spring suspension with variable damping is standard, while Air Body Control with Dynamic Select settings help allow better comfort as well as stiff body control in quick maneuvers. The automaker says that spring and damping forces can adapt within 60 milliseconds. Additionally, a Sport+ setting allows the chassis to be lowered by nearly an inch. Mercedes-Benz has put tremendous work into cabin noise, examining the GLC’s “psycho-acoustic properties” to help lower various noise components and enable easier conversation. While that seems to have worked wonders with road noise and general din in the cabin, we still noticed a fair amount of wind noise in an early drive.

The GLC is built on a new body that’s related to the C-Class sedan and pairs high-strength steels with aluminum and plastics, to save about 110 pounds versus the previous GLK. Total vehicle weight has dropped by 176 pounds versus a comparable GLK, Mercedes says, which should put entry curb weights at a bit below the 4,000-pound mark.

Mercedes-Benz GLC safety and features

Safety should be fully up to the high bar set by all the other latest Mercedes-Benz products. Mercedes-Benz’s Attention Assist (drowsy-driving alert) system is standard on the GLC, as is the Collision Prevention Assist Plus frontal warning system. With a Driving Assistance Package, the GLC adds adaptive cruise control with steering assist, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors with rear traffic alerts, lane-keep assist and Pre-Safe Plus. There are new window airbags for the outer seating positions, plus thorax/pelvis bags for those in front, and a knee bag for the driver. The automaker also says that a stiffer passenger compartment is at the core of the new body construction—so while we can’t attest to its safety yet, we can say that this, the outgoing GLK’s great IIHS ratings, and Mercedes-Benz’s reputation for safety all point to the GLC also being a very good pick for the safety-minded.

A 7.0-inch infotainment screen is standard on the GLC, and it includes Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and an optimized sound system dubbed FrontBass. Navigation can be added, as well as a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, concert-hall Burmester sound, and even the fragrance system that debuted on the S-Class. With its move upmarket, the GLC gets a wide range of appearance options, with wheels ranging up to 20 inches, an AMG Line model, "designo" boutique-look packages, and a Night Package that brings down the chrome factor with plenty of gloss black. A head-up display is newly available in the GLC, and helps as a companion to some of the active-safety gear, and Active Parking Assist is available on the GLC, helping to steer the vehicle into and out of parallel and perpendicular spots.

The base GLC300 manages 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined, according to the EPA. With all-wheel drive those ratings drop to 21/28/24 mpg.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Styling

With its hunchback-esque shape, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is an attractive compact crossover.

It's all in the family here. The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class may be only the second stepping stone on the brand's crossover and SUV hierarchy (it sits above the decidedly tiny GLA-Class), but its brand identity is strong.

If you're a fan of Mercedes' current style, which we are, it earns extra points for its good-looking interior and exterior. We give it a 7 out of 10 for its styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

It is worth noting that there are now two flavors of GLC-Class—conventional crossover and what Mercedes calls a "coupe." In our eyes, the coupe is merely a crossover with much of its big item utility lopped off; whether you're willing to accept that compromise is up to you.

From across a parking lot, the GLC looks like it was 3-D-printed from almost the same design as the larger GLE, albeit at 95 percent or so. That’s no put-down; the GLC’s design is part of a concerted move from Mercedes-Benz to harmonize its design among vehicles of the same type. 

Up close, the GLC’s slightly different set of proportions become more apparent, and there’s a bit more subtlety—and some voluptuous undertones in the sheet metal—that give the GLC a little more charm from the outside, either compared to the GLE, or to other models in its size class like the BMW X3 or Audi Q5.

Although not everyone’s going to be in love with the exterior, few will find its cabin design short of stunning. It’s graceful, flowing, and flamboyant, all at once, with rounded contours, matched by a horizontal orientation overall, and punctuated by just the right amount of brightwork, matte-metallics, and nicely detailed round vents that are showing up throughout the Mercedes-Benz model lineup.

The GLC’s dash design follows a rather horizontal look that’s bisected by a wide center console and center stack and a cluster of round vents, with a standalone infotainment screen standing atop it. The inlaid metallic bezels and soft-touch materials add up to a bejeweled look that used to be reserved for M-B’s most expensive models. In keeping with its design, Mercedes has dispensed with any rugged SUV cues; this is basically a tall wagon version of the C-Class (which is, incidentally, sold as a wagon outside of our market). 

GLCs come standard with an attractive glossy wood, but other genuine tree-derived materials are on offer, including a dark open pore finish and a black walnut design. For 2017, the GLC now offers a warm saddle interior shade to go along with the existing brown, gray, and black shades. 

The GLC43 shares its entire body with the GLC300, but the difference is in the details. Its front and rear bumpers have their own design penned by Mercedes' AMG division, and it rides on 20-inch wheels instead of the 18s standard on the GLC300.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Performance

The GLC rides and handles well, especially in GLC43 form.

If it looks like a taller C-Class sedan, does it drive like one? In the case of the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class—absolutely. And that's not a bad thing since the C-Class makes an excellent starting point. 

The GLC earns points above average for its sublime ride quality and for its willing powertrains. In AMG guise, it's even legitimately sporty, although the GLC300 will be the bigger seller. It's a 7 out of 10 for its performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

At the entry level, the GLC300 offers the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injection inline-4 engine, making 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. In both versions it’s mated to a 9-speed automatic.

It's a strong performer, accelerating quickly and delivering good power all the way across the rev range. Moreover, the 4-cylinder is quiet and refined, although the brand's fuel-saving start/stop system is more noticeable here than in some rivals like the Lincoln MKC. 

The 9-speed automatic shifts unobtrusively, although its shift timing varies a lot between the car’s Comfort and Sport+ modes, and if you’ve been driving rapidly or forget that it’s in Sport or Sport+ mode, it can lurch at low speed.

Get all-wheel drive in the GLC (badged "4Matic"), and by default it'll send 45 percent of torque to the front, 55 percent to the rear wheels. With a multi-disc clutch system, it can smoothly and continuously vary the torque split as needed, and reroute or finesse that among wheels with the stability control system by activating individual brakes.

Mercedes-AMG GLC43

The GLC43, meanwhile, makes use of a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that is in all of Mercedes-AMG's current "43" cars.

Fitted here, the V-6 delivers 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, the latter coming on at a predictably low 2,000 rpm. Mercedes watched Audi sell more 354-hp SQ5s than anyone ever expected and it has seen Jaguar jump into the fray with its 380-pony F-Pace S. Clearly, compact crossover buyers want some zip and they’re willing to pay upwards of $50,000 for it. (The GLC43 stickers for nearly $56,000).

That V-6 cuts the 0-60 mph sprint by about a second and a half over the GLC300, bringing the figure to a zippy 4.8 seconds.

The V-6 is mated exclusively to all-wheel drive and it sends power to each corner via a 9-speed automatic with a sport mode and paddles mounted to the steering wheel. Underneath, an air suspension can be adjusted from pillowy to fairly firm thanks to its own AMG calibration. Unlike the standard GLC300, the 43’s all-wheel-drive system has been tweaked to send nearly three-quarters of available power to the rear axle under normal driving conditions. 

Unlike the GLC300, the 43 handles like a proper rear-drive crossover, albeit a chubby one. Its rear-biased all-wheel-drive system helps the front end feel a little more light and delicate even with the optional chunkier 21-inch wheel and tire package. AMG tweaked the GLC43’s steering, which livens it up a little over the admittedly dull and slow setup in the GLC300. What’s more impressive is the crossover’s body control; it hustles into corners and remains flat especially in sport mode, mostly masking the crossover’s plump 4,100-pound curb weight.

The differences are subtle but appreciable, at least until the wick is turned up. The V-6 storms to life, amplified by an AMG exhaust system that delivers the kind of pops and snarls once relegated to race cars. It’s a little much at high rpm, but around town there’s a nice rumble.

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No versions of the GLC offer a low range or a true center differential lock. Overseas-market versions of the GLC offer an Off-Road Package that brings the electronic equivalent of a center diff lock, plus an uprated version of the air suspension that allows a higher (8.9-inch) maximum ride height, various underbody upgrades, and an off-road-oriented bumper design that allows better approach and departure angles. In the U.S., that package won’t be offered, but there is an Off-Road Appearance Package that includes the off-road bumper design (and its better angles). 
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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Comfort & Quality

The GLC's well-outfitted interior is roomy and comfortable given the crossover's exterior dimensions.

When Mercedes redesigned (and renamed) the GLC's predecessor, the automaker focused much of its attention on improving rear seat room.That makes it one of the most spacious luxury compact crossover, short of true mid-sizers like the Lexus RX and BMW X5, and Acura MDX. 

There's good room for adults and their luggage aboard the GLC and its interior is well-outfitted. We've awarded it extra points in particular for its roomy seats front and rear, bringing it to a 7 out of 10 for comfort and quality. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

In front, the driving position varies quite a bit from that of the larger GLE (M-Class), in that you’re less "on" the vehicle, perched forward, and more "in" the vehicle thanks to a relatively high belt line. That said, the instrument panel keeps the view out the windshield low to improve the vantage point.

The seats are fully up to the standards of Mercedes-Benz’s other (larger and more expensive) vehicles. There isn’t a tremendous amount of side bolstering in them unless you opt for the GLC43 (more on that in a moment), but with a wide range of adjustability and extendable thigh bolsters, they’re the kind of seats that should help keep fatigue away in hours of driving.

Compared to the C-Class sedan and its more "expressive" roofline, the GLC offers some much more practical accommodations in back. The additional vehicle height pays off; second row head room in the GLC is great—even with the panoramic moonroof—and the seats are contoured in a way that should suit adults, not just kids. Doors are cut to make the most of the space, and adults can also easily get in without contorting or ducking heads.

Width is where the GLC shows its not-quite-mid-size dimensions most; you can fit three adults across in back, but they need to be light-to-medium framed and even then they’ll be making contact.

In back, the GLC-Class is about the ideal height for easy loading and unloading, and there’s officially 20.5 cubic feet of space behind the back seat. The hatch opens high, and there’s a small storage pocket on one side of the cargo floor. The rear seat backs are split 40/20/40, and it’s easy to flip them forward. If we had one nit to pick, it would be that the rear seat backs don’t flip forward to a perfectly flat position; with some weight on the seat, it would be close enough, however.

The GLC rides quietly and in a smooth but very precise, well-controlled way regardless of suspension. Road coarseness is well filtered-out, and you only notice the engine and its coarse note when pressing it hard. We did find some noteworthy wind noise with a slight crosswind, however.

In the passenger compartment, the GLC300 Coupe mirrors the standard GLC300. It's only when you get to the cargo area that the differences begin to mount. Its cargo area is less cavernous, particularly in its ability to swallow taller objects. Additionally, that terrific rear seat head room in the standard GLC has been reduced to merely average space for passengers.

GLC43 gets its own styling touches

Inside and out, the expected cosmetic touches add a little more presence, with a choice between 20- and 21-inch alloy wheels. Aside from a glimmering grille and that taller, fatter rubber, the GLC43 doesn’t scream boy racer—which will probably be fine with most buyers. Otherwise, the GLC43 is basically a step up from the GLC300, which isn’t a bad thing.

The 43 gets its own more grippy seats that nicely toe the line between confining and comfortable. Standard upholstery on the GLC43 is a mix between synthetic suede and leatherette with red stitching, but real leather is optional. 

Think of it as a GLC with a better-than-average sport package and you’re on target. A GLC43 Coupe will follow, but it's an odd duck for those who want to go pretty fast while sitting up high but not carrying a lot of luggage. At least the standard GLC43 makes sense.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Safety

We don't have much crash test data to go on when it comes to the GLC.

Although we don't know just how well the Mercedes GLC will hold up in either federal or independent crash testing, it does offer an especially wide array of safety tech.

The downside is that you'll have to pay—a heck of a lot—for the top-tier safety equipment, which can push a GLC's list price up to a level where its value is in question. We can't assign the GLC a safety score, however, until we see ratings from the IIHS and the NHTSA. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Standard airbag systems in the GLC-Class include combined thorax/pelvis side bags for the driver and front passenger, as well as a windowbag covering both seat rows. Separate rear side bags are a special-order option.

Outward visibility is actually quite good in the GLC; and while rearward visibility when parking or backing up is the only exception, the camera system is very helpful and combines views into one seamless visualization around to both sides.

The GLC does include standard automatic emergency braking—branded as Collision Prevention Assist Plus—that works at lower speeds. The system will first sound and display an alarm if it detects an impending collision. If the driver doesn't react, the system can automatically apply the GLS' brakes, first with about 60 percent effort then fully at later stages, to reach a full stop and avert a collision.

But the top shelf equipment requires opting for the pricey Premium 3 package that includes adaptive cruise control that can steer the vehicle for a short period of time, full-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, an advanced monitor that can nudge the vehicle back into its lane if it begins to drift or if it detects a driver about to make impact with a car in its blind spot, and automatic high beam LED headlights

The adaptive cruise control's steering assist's intervention is more subtle than other such systems, and we found that we were able to steer smoothly into the shoulder of the road; yet when we took our hands off the wheel, it applied the correct steering inputs, before eventually scolding us to keep both hands on the wheel.

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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Features

The GLC is well-equipped at the base end and offers a lot of options.

At around $40,000 before any of its numerous options are piled on, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class represents a pretty solid value.

We've awarded it points above average for its good infotainment system, its high level of standard equipment, its numerous options, and the kid gloves service typically offered by the brand's sales outlets. This brings it to an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The entry point to the lineup is the rear-wheel drive GLC300, which comes with a generally higher level of standard equipment than some of its rivals—18-inch alloy wheels are included, as is glossy wood trim, the brand's 7.0-inch infotainment system, glossy linden wood trim, a power driver's seat with memory, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Adding all-wheel drive ups the price tag by $2,000.

Numerous options are available, including a Sport package that doesn't modify the GLC's suspension but does include upsized 19-inch wheels and larger performance-oriented brakes. A glass panorama roof, LED headlights, leather upholstery, a Burmester-branded audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, a head-up display, and an air suspension are among the optional equipment highlights.

Mercedes offers several equipment packages as well. For $1,250, the Premium 1 group is likely to be on many GLCs you'll find on dealer lots. It includes satellite radio, a household-style power outlet, blind-spot monitors, and a proximity key. The Premium 2 package runs $3,600 and includes Premium 1's equipment plus a larger 8.4-inch infotainment system with navigation and a few other items. It's a pricey package for navigation, so think carefully.

The Premium 3 builds on Premium 2 with some important safety tech—adaptive cruise control that can steer the vehicle for a short period of time, full-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, an advanced monitor that can nudge the vehicle back into its lane if it begins to drift or if it detects a driver about to make impact with a car in its blind spot, and automatic high beam LED headlights. This is a comprehensive package, but at $7,200, it's worth scratching your head on before placing your order. 

In addition to its upgraded engine, suspension, styling, and sportier interior, the GLC43 features synthetic suede and leatherette upholstery, most of the components of the Premium 1 package, and 20-inch alloy wheels. It offers the same Premium 2 and 3 packages as the GLC300.

For now, the GLC Coupe is only offered as the GLC300 4Matic with all-wheel drive and its standard and optional equipment essentially mirrors the standard body GLC300. 

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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Fuel Economy

At 24 mpg combined, the GLC300 4Matic is par for its segment.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class provides fuel economy that's about par for its class.

That diesel model isn't expected until late in 2017, and it may arrive as a 2018 model year vehicle. In the meantime, we've assigned the GLC a 6 out of 10, basing its score on the GLC300 all-wheel drive version. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base GLC300 manages 22 mpg city, 28 highway, 24 combined, according to the EPA. With all-wheel drive those ratings drop to 21/28/24 mpg. Opt for the GLC43 and, predictably, those figures drop considerably to just 18/24/20 mpg. 

All GLC models feature an Eco drive mode designed to help reduce fuel consumption. It dials back climate control output and forces drivers to make a deeper stab at the gas pedal in routine acceleration. Additionally, a start/stop system is included—although it's a little more obtrusive than some in its segment. 

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