- Great looks
- Performance potential in AMG versions
- Comfortable ride and interior
- Good rear seat room
- Good active safety features, standard and optional
- Top spec versions are pricey
- Refresh was very light
- Compromised outward vision in coupes
- Small rear doors in coupes
features & specs
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is comfortable and quiet, with few rivals in among small luxury crossovers.
For years, Mercedes-Benz GLC crossover buyers have talked about their luxury ride. This year, the 2020 GLC-Class talks back.
With the updated GLC, Mercedes-Benz adds its latest infotainment system and a slightly more powerful engine. Like last year, the GLC-Class is available as a crossover “coupe” with a racier roofline and hatchback glass, or as a traditional crossover with an upright tail and more usable cargo space. Two engines with four configurations are on offer: the GLC300 is available with or without all-wheel drive, and the high-powered GLC63—only available with all-wheel drive—comes in one of two engine outputs, base or S.
We give the range a 7.0, skewed heavily toward the GLC300 4Matic crossover, which is more popular with buyers. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The GLC-Class is the tall-roof companion to the C-Class, if anyone remembers what that is. The exterior hasn't changed much with this year’s fluff-and-buff refresh—new bumpers, headlights, and taillights, and a new grille—and the interior of the GLC-Class is treated to the same sumptuous materials that get better with more money.
Under the hood of the 2020 GLC300 is a more powerful turbo-4 that makes 255 horsepower, plus 14 from last year if you’re keeping score. That’s paired to a standard 9-speed automatic transmission that’s eager to put the GLC in a more efficient mood. The EPA rates the duo at 24 mpg combined. The GLC43 and GLC63 climb the performance and price ladder in a hurry—they're wonderful things.
The crossover still comfortably seats up to five adults, with plenty of leg and knee room for 6-footers or taller. Shoulder room may be an issue for wide adults or Olympic swimmers, but 75-percenters likely won’t squabble with three abreast—even if they touch shoulders.
“Coupe” models are a stretch by definition, less in comfort. Although the rear doors are compromised in their cutout, our 6-foot-3 editor was able to sit behind someone of equal stature with about a half-inch of head room and ample leg room.
The GLC “Normal” is more comfortable for people and cargo with nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo space that opens up to more than 65 cubic feet with the second row folded. The Coupe’s roofline sacrifices some space to 17.7 cubes and 49.4 respectively.
All the mandatory safety systems are there, but Mercedes’ spend-up safety systems are likely worth the price. In addition to adaptive cruise control, the active safety features can help keep the GLC-Class centered in its lane, change lanes, and slow down for corners. Automatic emergency braking is standard, like last year.
For more than $43,000 to start, the GLC300 offers a 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 18-inch wheels, USB-C charge ports (you’ll probably have to buy a new cord, again), keyless ignition, heated front seats that are power adjustable, and a power liftgate.
Extra-cost options include bigger wheels, softer leather, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, heated rear seats, wireless phone charger, cooled front seats, panoramic sunroof, and Burmester sound system.
At the top end, the GLC63 S Coupe tips $85,000 and offers high horsepower and high fashion: a slinky roofline, dazzling interior, and mind-bending speed.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
The 2020 GLC-Class doesn’t have a bad look.
The 2020 GLC is new but inherits all the good looks of its parents and predecessors.
We like its exterior look all the same, but its interior is even dressier. Starting from an average score, the GLC gets an 8 for style with two points above average for its interior and one for its exterior.
The GLC crossover is available in two body styles: regular or coupe. The “coupe” is a stretch in the lexicon, but not in looks—it’s the lovelier.
The normal version is no slouch either. The new bumpers and grille don’t spoil the curvaceous look of the GLC’s nose, its three-pointed star is prominent in the small Benz’s grille. A little more than last year, the new GLC is more masculine in its looks with the chops to back it up: an off-road engineering package gives the crossover traction and capability if the GLC ever ventures off the mall lot.
Inside, the GLC is more suited toward finer things. The interior is just as flowing, just as comfortable, and just as rich as last year. The interior is busier than, say, a Volvo XC60, but it’s not overwrought. The lines reach in from the doors down toward a center stack that’s efficient and clean. The new standard 10.3-inch touchscreen is bolted into the dash, but its “Filmed in Panavision” format doesn’t intrude into the view out front and by not integrating the screen into the dash, Mercedes can have a lower dash panel with better outward vision all around.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
Modestly more power in the GLC300 this year may go unnoticed, but its soft ride surely won’t.
The 2020 GLC gets a power bump in base versions but still relies on turbo-4 propulsion and a 9-speed automatic in most models.
We give the crossover a 7 based on the GLC300 with all-wheel drive, which is likely to be the best seller. If we rated performance solely based on GLC63 models, we’d need a new scale. It’s a 7 for now, thanks to good power and a better ride.
The 2.0-liter turbo-4 received a modest power bump over last year’s crossover, up 14 hp to 255 hp, but it’s not immediately noticeable. A 9-speed automatic handles shifting duties well, albeit not as well as 8-speed automatics found in competitors from BMW. (To be fair, that ZF-sourced transmission found in the BMW may be a good candidate for the next in line at Mount Rushmore.) There’s some hesitation from the transmission to find the right gear, especially at constant speeds where its indecision can exacerbate the engine’s coarse nature.
Base GLC crossovers are rear-drivers, but most crossovers will be fitted with optional all-wheel drive that costs $2,000—and all coupes will get AWD as standard equipment.
That all-wheel-drive system normally shifts 55 percent of available torque toward the rear wheels but can shuttle around for better performance or efficiency as needed. The GLC doesn’t offer a low-range gearbox or locking differential, but it probably won’t need it—most buyers won’t traverse much more than a muddy concert parking lot in the GLC.
If they do, Mercedes offers off-road candy this year that adds skid plating, traction control programs to help in snow or bumpy terrain, and when equipped with the optional air suspension, can raise up for more ground clearance.
We drove the 2020 GLC in an off-road course that included 60-percent inclines (a pitch steeper than many rooftops), 28-percent banked turns (enough that the seatbelts help hold you in place), and wheel articulation that lifted each tire several feet above ground without losing grip. Yes, it can; but no, many won’t.
The GLC is hashtag-blessed with a luxury ride thanks to good dampers and compliant springs, and an optional air suspension and adaptive dampers only make it better.
Some markets get a 48-volt system that’s not bound for the U.S. yet, and we’re left with a coarse start/stop system that can shake the GLC a little.
AMG GLC43 Performance
The AMG GLC43 drills a twin-turbo V-6 into the GLC's svelte shoulders and extracts 385 hp that's sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Mercedes estimates that the GLC43 takes just 4.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph in either coupe or regular configuration. It rides on adaptive dampers as standard equipment and shuttles between comfort and sporty settings via a toggle in the center console.
It's less "AMG-lite" and more "AMG-right" from behind the wheel. The GLC43 accelerates quickly and doesn't let up, all the way to its 130-mph top speed (which can be raised to 155 mph with 21-inch wheels and summer tires). The GLC43 is never short of breath, although its V-6 soundtrack can be a little brappy with the active exhausts engaged.
AMG GLC63 Performance
Good news: The AMG GLC63’s start/stop system is much better, and it’s hooked to a fire-breathing V-8. (Eds note: If you need a reason to buy a performance vehicle, you can have that one for free.)
The GLC63 is available in two tunes: GLC 63 or GLC 63 S with 469 or 503 horsepower, respectively. The GLC63 S is only available in the coupe, and all require all-wheel drive.
Its power is intoxicating, imbibed through steady burbles from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine and deep stabs at the throttle.
The GLC63’s performance is unquestionable: 0-60 mph takes less than 4 seconds in either model, and its top speed of 155 mph (174 mph in GLC63 S) is effortless.
The AMG GLC63 is gifted with new performance programs that complement the drive modes already available: Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race, and Individual. The performance programs—Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master—control everything from shift patterns to throttle response, steering behavior to engine mounts.
The GLC63 commands at least $74,000 to get its attention but based on our drives in a 503-hp 2020 GLC63 S Coupe that likely cost well north of $90,000, it’s worth listening to.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
Comfort & Quality
It’s easy to make friends in the 2020 GLC-Class, even easier to carry them.
The GLC-Class is discerning in materials and comfort. It’s among the most spacious in its class largely because it’s one of the biggest in its class. We give it points above average for its ability to seat five adults, material quality, and palatial front seats. It’s an 8.
The front seats are comfortable for all body types in the GLC300. The GLC63 swaps in narrower buckets that may pinch broad shoulders and big tushes, but beauty is pain.
The relatively thin seat bottoms are padded with better than average leather in upper trims, and the dash can be warmed over with wood touches and soft materials. The seats are all-day spacious—road trips are rewarded in Benz’s cute ‘ute. No GLC is thin, but optional extras add touches that are just *chef’s kiss*.
The rear seats are comfortable and spacious for three. Mild- to moderate-shoulder touching will be involved for 75-percentile adults and larger.
The rear-seat leg room is adequate for 6-footers to sit behind other 6-footers and the rear outboard seats can be heated as an option.
The GLC crossover sports nearly 20 cubic feet of cargo room behind its standard power liftgate with the rear seats in place. Folded, the GLC’s cargo area expands to nearly 60 cubes, and its wide load floor is especially accommodating to full-size luggage.
The GLC coupe shaves a few cubes off those cargo numbers—17.7 cubic feet with the seats up, 49.4 with the seats down.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
The 2020 GLC-Class lacks official crash-test data.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class has earned good marks in the crash tests that have been performed so far. The IIHS gave it top scores on all of its tests, and awarded it a Top Safety Pick when equipped with certain headlights and the optional automatic emergency braking with cross-traffic function. It gets an 8 for the IIHS award, and its standard and available active safety features. This score may rise once the NHTSA weighs in.
Even though the GLC comes standard with automatic emergency braking, the optional system called Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function earned a "Superior" rating from the IIHS for being able to avoid collisions with vehicles at 12 mph, and significantly reduce speed in 25 mph in collisions with vehicles and pedestrians. Also, the optional LED projector lights on the Exterior Lighting package earned the TSP award; the base LED headlights did not qualify.
Optional safety add-ons include active lane control, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, adaptive cruise control that can speed up or slow down depending on the speed limit, lane-change assist, and GPS-based speed assistance that can slow the car down for a corner ahead.
Mercedes-Benz’s driver-assistance features take a small practical step that’s actually a big deal. When adaptive cruise control and active lane control are piloting the car for a short distance and don’t detect human attention, the GLC will slow itself and stop. That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s one step closer to semi-autonomy and could be helpful in a medical emergency.
Outward vision in the crossover is OK, but poor in the coupe due to its fat rear roof pillar.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
No GLC-Class is poorly equipped, but add-on extras make the small crossover a rolling palace.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class starts at $43,495, but finer details tack on thousands to the bottom line.
The basic equipment includes 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, a 10.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated front seats with power adjustment, a power liftgate, and automatic emergency braking. All-wheel drive on base crossovers costs $2,000, and coupes and AMG models get it as standard.
That’s base equipment good enough for a point above average. The touchscreen is generously sized, and Mercedes new infotainment system leads the pack for now. It gets a 7 out of 10.
Starting from the GLC300, Mercedes-Benz offers the plug-in hybrid GLC350e, which costs $52,895, on up to GLC43 and GLC63 crossovers that cost $60,495 and $74,745, respectively.
Back down on terra firma, we'd be fine with a GLC300 with all-wheel drive and a few added features such as an AMG appearance package that includes 19-inch wheels, sport front seats, and uprated brakes. We'd opt for upgraded lighting too, leather upholstery, premium Burmester audio, and driver-assistance features. The total tab? More than $57,000—yikes.
Seemingly endless options can drive up the price of a GLC-Class to well beyond the starting price.
The mountaintop of price and performance is the GLC63 Coupe that costs more than $85,000 to start and run past $100,000. It's a nice thing.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class
The GLC's gas mileage is average.
The EPA rated the 2020 GLC300 at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined with rear-wheel drive, or 21/28/24 mpg with all-wheel drive. Both scores earn a 4 on our fuel-economy scale.
The GLC300 coupe, which is only available with all-wheel drive, rates 21/28/24 mpg.
Stepping up to the AMG GLC43 knocks fuel economy back to 18/24/21 mpg, regardless of body style. The V-8-powered GLC63 is far thirstier at 16/22/18 mpg, in any configuration.