2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
October 19, 2018

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class uses a plush ride and a lush cabin to captivate crossover crowds—and trumps it all with the AMG card.

Mercedes-Benz sells five crossover SUVs, and the 2019 Mercedes GLC-Class is one of the better ones. It’s the C-Class for the rest of us who aren’t so attached to body styles rendered irrelevant by consumer taste.

It’s also a family of vehicles that includes GLC300s with turbo-4s, AMG GLC43s with a twin-turbo V-6, and GLC63s with a twin-turbo V-8. Take your pick, crossover or “Coupe,” if you must.

With only minor changes for the new model year, we give the GLC-Class a 7.3 out of 10, and point to its perfect safety and near-perfect comfort ratings when we talk about its strengths. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The tall-roof alternative to the C-Class has more head and leg room, and some say, a prettier set of sheet-metal panels. Whether it’s a Coupe or an SUV, the GLC-Class has every hair laid perfectly in place. The big star logo matches up with big LED taillights, and the semi-voluptuous shape posts up on the F-Pace and X3 for pitch-perfect crossover looks. Inside, the GLC quashes most rivals: It’s in a heated battle with the Volvo XC60 for the sensational application of wood and metallic trim, and the dramatic sense of style. It’s the hot side of the crossover McDLT to the XC60’s cool, if we can be so 1990s here.

The 2019 GLC comes in three distinct power levels. The turbo-4 that powers GLC300s has 241 horsepower, 0-60 mph times of about 6.5 seconds, and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. Its steering isn’t relentlessly informative, but the available air suspension and adaptive dampers smother the road and hustle through corners with something approaching grace.

The AMG GLC43 pitches the turbo-4 and screws in a 362-hp twin-turbo V-6, which is better for hurtling from any big-box store to the carousel at Paul Ricard, if that’s how your day calendars out. It’s wonderfully communicative, from the steering to the taut but friendly ride. It’s less brutal than the utterly nutso GLC63, with 503 hp and a hit of car-world growth hormones that it ingests directly into its suspension.

Cargo and people room in the GLC meets the luxury-SUV challenge without any attempt to wedge in a third-row seat. Base models have lots of adjustment and good outward vision, but you’ll pay for leather. AMG editions have snug sport sedans and racy leather-and-suede trim. The GLC has very good cargo space, but on the Coupe it loses a few cubic feet for not much reason; on either body style, the rear seats don’t fold quite flat.

The GLC has nearly perfect crash-test scores, and comes with automatic emergency braking, and advanced touches such as a surround-view camera system and active lane control are affordable options where they’re not standard.

Every version has standard power features, and Bluetooth with audio streaming, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cost an extra $350, which is annoying. The comprehensive features list includes Burmester sound, cooled front seats, and the same in-car fragrance dispenser found in the S-Class.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Styling

The 2019 GLC-Class fits a gorgeous cabin in a crisp crossover shape.

The 2019 GLC keeps all its hairs in place: it’s ready for a Mercedes SUV family portrait, and looks like a born leader, now that the rest of the family is adopting its pitch-perfect crossover curves and creases.

It’s also blessed with a fairly spectacular cabin. We loved it in the C-Class; it’s better here thanks to more elbow room.

It’s an 8 for styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Mercedes sells the 2019 GLC-Class in two body styles. One’s a crossover SUV, and so is the other, albeit with a more sloped rear roofline. In Benz-world that means the latter’s a Coupe, but we’ll leave those distinctions to sales brochures and other places lightly tethered to the real world.

In either body style the GLC wears lovely lines. The face has the now-massive Benz three-pointed star (with LED lighting if you like) embraced by subtly curved front fenders, sitting atop some sizable air intakes even on GLC300s. It’s more upright and better defined than what we’ve seen of the 2020 GLE-Class, which has a more amorphous front end, and more sag in its diaper. The side view gives the GLC Coupe the win: The SUV’s more conventional and more handsome to some, but despite our qualms with the loss of cargo space, the Coupe does look handsome.

The stunning interior pitches the GLC out of the German league, into a head-to-head battle with the Volvo XC60. Flamboyant, flowing shapes wrap around the interior. It’s swathed in trim that flows down from the center display screen, in a wood or metallic waterfall. The stand-up screen allows for a lower dash, one that’s punctuated by round air vents. It’s expensive-looking and lush, even for a Mercedes-Benz, especially at this price.

In base versions, Mercedes sells distinctive trim kits that add AMG-like add-ons and bigger wheels, or boutique "designo" packages, even a low-gloss blackout trim package. AMG editions get their own front and rear ends, with bigger 20- or 21-inch wheels, and on the GLC63 and GLC63 S, a massive rear diffuser and quad-tipped tailpipes.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Performance

A supple ride and strong powertrains put even the 2019 GLC300 in good company.

Think of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC as a high-riding C-Class station wagon, and you won’t be far off. It’s far from shady, either; the GLC has a similarly composed ride and a trio of willing engines.

We rate it a 7 here, based on the GLC300, the best-seller in the family. AMG models deal out horsepower like Halloween candy and screw down the GLC’s handling to sedan levels of grip, so as you might imagine, our rating would go higher for those. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the GLC300, Mercedes taps a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with direct injection and stop/start. With 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, the GLC300 SUV comes in rear- or all-wheel drive, but GLC300 Coupes only come with the latter. Both control power via a 9-speed automatic.

In any combination, these base GLCs have strong performance. The turbo-4 pumps out its thrust across a big chunk of the available powerband, and Benz promises 0-60 mph times of less than 6.5 seconds. It’s refined though a little noisy at the top end of its range, and the stop/start isn’t the smoothest we’ve felt. The 9-speed automatic doles out mostly unobtrusive shifts, though it can lurch as it picks out and aims for lower gears. There is a wide range in responsiveness and in shift speeds as the driver selects Comfort or Sport or even Sport+ drive modes.

The standard all-wheel-drive system ships 55 percent of its torque to the rear wheels at launch, but varies the distribution according to handling and traction needs. Unlike other Benz SUVs, the GLC doesn’t offer a differential lock or a low range.

Mercedes will fit the GLC300 with air springs and adaptive dampers, but even in stock trim, it can tackle some impressively big bumps with pose. It’s controlled and precise, regardless of setup, but add on the extras and it’s downright graceful, a luxury vehicle that soaks up road flaws without float. The steering doesn’t offer much information at all in base trim, but AMG versions get very intent on communicating with the driver-for good reason.

A GLC350e plug-in hybrid offers limited battery-only range and just 1 mpg in fuel economy improvement; skip it until Benz offers more serious battery performance.

Mercedes-AMG GLC43

Strap on a twin-turbo engine and screw down the suspension, and the GLC gets to wear AMG initials. In both AMG forms, the AMG GLC is desirable as oxygen, but in the AMG GLC43 it’s a bit more sublime.

In the GLC43, Benz swaps out the turbo-4 for a 362-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 with 384 lb-ft of torque, which peaks at a relatively low 2,000 rpm. Its on-time arrival helps the GLC43 hit 60 mph in only 4.8 seconds. A 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive come with the engine, and the automatic gets finer calibration that works better than the baser version.

Everything about the GLC43 gets better. It delivers a pillowy ride despite bigger 21-inch wheels thanks to its standard air suspension, and grip improves with a more pronounced power split to the rear wheels. The V-6 thunders to life, and barks out through a sport exhaust that pops and crackles—maybe a little too much at higher engine speeds.

The extra ride height and 4,100-pound curb weight gray out some of the vivid AMG-ness, but the GLC43 handles very well and the steering grows more lively than in the GLC300. The GLC43 hustles into corners, smartly controlling its body, and remains especially flat in sport mode.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and GLC 63S

Go all-out, and the GLC family finds its craziest relative in the GLC63 and GLC63 S. The core is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 with 469 hp 479 lb-ft of torque. Stocked with a 9-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, it shoots to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds—unless it’s a GLC63 S, which blooms to 503 hp and 516 lb-ft, and drops 0-60 mph times of 3.8 seconds.

Every GLC63 has a limited-slip rear differential, though S models have an electronically controlled version for quicker power transfer. That’s an E63 axle working across the rear, which can’t be bad at all, and a Race mode in its driver controls. We haven’t driven one yet, but we’ll write more here once we have.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Comfort & Quality

The Mercedes GLC’s cabin marries spread-out space with lush trim.

The GLC-Class glowed up from its more prosaic Benz GLK roots in 2017, when it was new. It’s done little to alter our perception that its interior is among the best Mercedes makes.
It’s pretty, and pretty useful—just slightly smaller than vehicles such as the Lexus RX.

That makes it a 9 for comfort and quality, thanks to great interior space and cargo room, and a selection of suede and leather and wood that banishes old-school sterile German style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Mercedes chose carlike sensations for the cabin of the GLC, versus the former GLK. Upright lines and somber finishes got chucked, though the GLC kept the commanding view of the road. Well-sculpted front seats and a low-set dash open an expansive view of the road. Base models get synthetic leather on highly adjustable front seats, with real leather as an option. AMG models get heavily sculpted and more finely adjustable chairs with leather and suede trim that grip firmly, maybe too firmly for some big drivers.

In back, the GLC doles out different space depending on its roofline. Standard GLC crossovers have excellent rear-seat head and leg room, even with the panoramic sunroof installed. Coupe models suffer a little bit, but the roof’s slope happens mostly behind back-seat heads. The seats are contoured so a third passenger won’t be comfortable for long trips, but shoulder room doesn’t preclude the idea, and the doors are big enough to make it easier for older passengers to get in and buckle up.

The GLC acts like a big metal tote bin when pressed. The cargo space has 19.4 cubic feet to offer behind the rear seat in SUV models, but 17.7 on Coupes. Those rear seatbacks drop in three sections for flexible passenger and cargo needs, but the seatbacks don’t fold quite flat. Folded down, the GLC SUV has 56.5 cubic feet of space, the Coupe 49.4.

The beautifully executed interior cleans up well, no matter which trim’s paid for. Base black or beige interiors can wear black ash wood trim, while AMG versions dress in Jezebel-red leather and carbon fiber. The AMG models feed in just the right noises to the cabin, while GLC300s have a slightly coarser sound that’s muted enough and generate wind flutter around their big side mirrors.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Safety

The 2019 Benz GLC crossover nails a rigorous set of safety hurdles for a perfect score here.

Few vehicles earn a perfect safety score in our ratings, but the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is one. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The NHTSA says the GLC-Class merits five stars overall. The only slight flaw in its results comes in rollover resistance, where it’s rated at four stars. That’s common for taller vehicles such as crossovers.

With excellent crash-test scores and headlights and advanced safety technology, the GLC gets a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS.

It gets better. Along with the mandatory safety gear, the 2019 GLC adds forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Mercedes sells rear-seat side airbags, blind-spot monitors, and surround-view cameras as options.

It also will add automatic LED headlights, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, even active park assist.

The GLC-Class offers the driver a good view of the outside world, but cameras can do better sometimes, so we suggest the optional a surround-view camera system for a clear read on tight parking spaces.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Features

The 2019 Mercedes GLC costs at least $40,000, but has some S-Class touches on its options list.

Mercedes charges at least $40,000 for the 2019 GLC-Class, and that’s before you add the finer things on its features list.

Its standard and optional gear merits a couple of points above average, and though it’s more expensive than vehicles such as the Volvo XC60, it’s a decent value in lightly equipped models.

We give it a 6 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2019 GLC300 comes standard with power features, heated front seats, a power driver seat, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tailgate, 18-inch wheels, wood trim, and a 7.0-inch infotainment display. The base audio system has AM/FM/HD radio, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and two USB ports. An extra $350 gives the GLC300 Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; Mercedes is one of only a manufacturers to charge for those operating systems, so we dock it a point for features a $40,000 car can easily afford to include.

All-wheel drive adds $2,000, and Mercedes sells trim packages to dress up the crossover, as well as an off-road bundle and a sport package with 19-inch wheels and more beefy brakes. Our pick in the lineup is this “base” model, outfitted with all-wheel drive and your choice of add-on smartphone interface, though we’d pick off a couple of options from the list and keep the price below $50,000.

Those extra-cost charges on the GLC300 include 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a panoramic roof, satellite radio, LED headlamps, Burmester audio, heated rear seats, cooled front seats, an air suspension, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display. For a price, the GLC300 can also be fitted with an infotainment system with a larger 8.4-inch screen and navigation. The latter’s still not one of the easier systems you’ll find on any luxury car; give us a simple touchscreen or give us the new Benz MBUX system making its debut on the A-Class, please and thank you.

The GLC350e comes with standard LED headlights and 20-inch wheels. Options include automatic high beams, an AMG Line styling kit, a panoramic roof, leather upholstery, the upgraded infotainment system with navigation, an in-car fragrance dispenser, and an air suspension.

On the GLC43, Mercedes fits a combination of synthetic leather and suede trim, as well as 20-inch wheels and the styling and performance upgrades that earn the AMG initials. AMG sport seats and a performance steering wheel can be ordered. Active LED headlights with automatic high beams are also offered as options, as are the panoramic roof, a lighted three-pointed star, a heated steering wheel, and navigation. The GLC63 offers a head-up display, rear-seat entertainment, and a sport exhaust system—as well as a price tag of more than $70,000.

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Fuel Economy

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC comes with a plug, but it’s still only average in gas mileage.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class turns in fuel economy that’s rational for a gas-powered SUV, but its battery-augmented model isn’t a big leap forward.

Based on the more popular GLC300, we give the crossover a 4 here. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the GLC 300 at 22 mpg city, 27 highway, 24 combined, when equipped with either rear- or all-wheel drive. As a GLC300 Coupe, it’s rated at 21/27/23 mpg.

Higher-performance models haven’t been rated yet by the EPA, but last year the agency said the AMG GLC 43 checked in at 18/24/20 mpg, and it pegged the GLC63 at 16/22/18 mpg, with the GLC63 Coupe models set at 15/22/18 mpg.

The GLC-Class crossovers have stop/start to reduce fuel use at stoplights, and have an Eco drive mode. 

Last year Mercedes added a plug-in hybrid to the range, the GLC350e. It’s rated by the EPA at 74 MPGe, or 25 mpg combined, just a slight improvement over the base SUV and coupe.

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$40,700
MSRP based on GLC 300 SUV
 
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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 6
Fuel Economy 4
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