2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
December 10, 2020

Buying tip

We’d spec out a GLC300 with the SUV body style and the surround-view and head-up safety options—but our hearts are really with the GLC43 AMG, in matte gray with black wheels, pearl-white leather and gray oak trim. Just in case you were wondering.

features & specs

AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe
AMG GLC 43 4MATIC SUV
AMG GLC 63 4MATIC+ Coupe
MPG
17 city / 24 hwy
MPG
18 city / 24 hwy
MPG
15 city / 22 hwy
MSRP
$64,900
MSRP
$59,900
MSRP
$76,900

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class can be a soothing urban oasis—or a roaring twin-turbo V-8 track star. It’s your call.

What kind of car is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class? What does it compare to?

The 2021 GLC is Mercedes-Benz’ mid-size, five-seat crossover SUV. It’s lathered in luxury fittings and can scald the road when it’s configured to AMG-spec. It compares with the BMW X3, Audi X5, and Volvo XC60, among others.

Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class a good car?

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It ranges from very good to exceptional. We give it a TCC Rating of 7.0 based on the GLC300 4Matic SUV, but different versions would score higher in performance and styling—and lower in gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class?

The GLC SUV now gets keyless start standard, while both the SUV and Coupe get active park assist standard. AMG models get parking sensors with active park assist standard.

The 2021 GLC-Class crossovers bring drama to the luxury mid-size SUV world. They’re curvaceous, hippy, with some details played grandly—there’s even a “Coupe” body style with a sloped rear roof, if an SUV shape’s just too commonplace. The sleek body’s hardly a match for the exuberant interior, trimmed in sumptuous materials—from wood to carbon fiber to nappa leather to aluminum—and integrated into the online world via a 10.3-inch touchscreen and Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment system.

Performance issues from a 255-horsepower turbo-4 in the GLC300, from a 385-hp twin-turbo V-6 in the GLC43 AMG, and from a 469-hp or 503-hp twin-turbo V-8 in the GLC63 AMG. The GLC doesn’t take more than about six seconds to reach 60 mph, and AMGs take as little as 3.8 seconds. The GLC’s 9-speed automatic gets dizzy with choice sometimes, but almost-universal all-wheel drive manages its grip to ISO9001 standards, while the adaptive air suspensions of AMG editions endow the crossover with uncanny grip to match their unreal acceleration.

The GLC’s one of the larger vehicles in its class, and five adults can fit, though more than four will be the subject of idle gossip. Coupes have lower rooflines and less cargo space, but even they still sport nearly 50 cubic feet of cargo room behind the front seats. 

Crash-test data is incomplete, but all signs are good—and the GLC comes with standard blind-spot monitors and automatic emergency braking. 

How much does the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class cost?

The $43,250 GLC300 offers 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as a spiffy MBUX interface with good voice-command control. The high-$50,000s GLC43 AMG would be our pick—but we won’t rat you out if you pick the lascivious $74,950 GLC63 AMG and go all-in on the options.

Where is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class made?

It’s assembled in Germany.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Styling

The GLC-Class cuts a fine look—finer on the inside, we think.

Is the Mercedes GLC a good-looking car?

We think so. The GLC-Class slips a couture look over its crossover running gear, to fabulous effect. The interior’s dressy, the exterior classy. It’s an 8 here, with a point extra for the body and two extra for the cabin.

The GLC comes in either SUV or “Coupe” shapes. The former’s in fine fettle; the latter’s taking a little too much liberty with the word, but whatever—it’s the better-looking of the two. 

Fresh from a recent restyle, both GLCs have a prominent grille and a tri-star Mercedes logo that’s as big as a dinner plate, and can be LED-lit to avoid the harsh glare of anonymity. SUVs have a subtle taper that plays well against the muscular fenders, but the Coupe roofline drapes with an elegance that’s entirely missing from some of the coupe-like efforts from other makes. 

While the body has an overplayed detail or two, the cabin walks a very, very fine line between exuberant and overwrought. It wins out with glam touches that play across the dash with a band of wood trim and a wide-format touchscreen and round air vents trimmed in bright metallic plastic. It’s busier than a Volvo interior by a magnitude, but it’s warm and welcoming in its own way, though the carbon-fiber and red-leather AMG interior trips over the good-taste guy wire.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Performance

GLC300s are above-average performers; AMG models are scorchers.

The GLC slaps down power discreetly in its turbo-4 models, but AMG versions make no attempt to hide their power or their grip. Count us in—and put it down for a 7 for performance, based on the mildest GLC300.

How fast is the Mercedes GLC?

It’s pretty fast even as a base model. That Coupe or SUV adopts the latest Benz 2.0-liter turbo-4, now rated at 255 hp and teamed with a 9-speed automatic. The engine’s somewhat coarse note under full acceleration goes away quickly at cruising speeds; it’s hard to complain when even the standard model hits 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, though the 9-speed’s occasional confusion might benefit from the algorithmic equivalent of an espresso to clear its head. 

Almost every GLC comes with all-wheel drive, except the base SUV, where it’s a $2,000 option. The stock AWD system shifts slightly more power to the rear wheels under acceleration, but can move it around as traction needs arise. The GLC doesn’t have a locking differential or a low-range gearbox—but it’ll go farther off-road than you think. 

But it doesn’t have to. On the road, the GLC300 has a lovely sense of composure that comes from an independent suspension with good damping and compliant springs; the available air suspension and air dampers only add to the resilience. 

There’s an exceedingly rare plug-in hybrid spun from this version, but we haven’t driven it.

AMG GLC43 and GLC63 performance

Put all that goodness through a performance filter and you arrive at the AMG GLCs. The GLC43 AMG’s our pick here; its twin-turbo V-6 spits out 385 hp, good for a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds and a top speed as high as 155 mph when it’s fitted with summer tires. The AWD system in these AMG crossovers gets a rearward bias, with about one-third of the power fed to the front wheels; it launches briskly and slips through esses deftly, with the rear wheels offering a bit of help steering. Not that it needs much, with the hefty weight added to the AMG cars’ speed-sensitive steering rack, and with a standard set of air springs and adaptive dampers, and 21-inch wheels. 

Stuff a 469-hp or 503-hp twin-turbo V-8 under the hood, and the GLC63 AMG slingshots to 60 mph in about 3.8 seconds and up to a top speed of 174 mph. Flick it into the exclusive Race drive mode and into one of its performance programs—Basic, Advanced, Pro, and Master—and the GLC63 AMG can control all its vital systems, from throttle response to shift patterns and steering behavior. It’s a car with uncanny power and unflappable poise.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Comfort & Quality

The GLC’s comfort stems from its plus size; the beauty comes from the top shelf.

Four adults fit well in the Mercedes GLC, and the interior’s upholstered with an extra bolt of class. We give it an 8 here, with points for its cargo space, front seats, and general finery.

The GLC’s roomy because it’s one of the larger vehicles in its luxury niche. But it’s soothing to drive because no matter which model you choose, the seats have lots of adjustment and support, even in the GLC300. AMG editions have firmer seats that cinch in tight, but we get into their grip. Synthetic leather comes standard, and so do heating and power adjustment in front, but Mercedes will wrap the GLC cabin in leather, will cool the fronts and heat the back seats. Do all that, and choose some of the GLC’s lovely wood or metallic trims, and the atmosphere’s even richer, with glints of glam—or big swatches of red leather, in some AMGs. 

We’d opt into a GLE or a GLS if we had to carry five adults on a regular basis, but the GLC does OK. The rear seat’s blessed with enough space for reasonable comfort—and plenty of room for two adults of just about any size. Leg room’s adequate even for 6-footers sitting behind 6-footers.

Head room is another story: It’s fine in the SUV, but in the Coupe the draped roofline costs the crossover some interior space. The former nets out at nearly 60 cubic feet of cargo room behind the front seats, nearly 20 cubes behind the back row—but Coupes have just 49.4 cubic feet behind row one, 17.7 cubic feet behind row two.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Safety

The NHTSA hasn’t checked in, but the GLC scores highly for safety nonetheless.

How safe is the Mercedes-Benz GLC?

With only IIHS crash-test scores to its credit, the 2021 GLC-Class earns a score of 7 here. 

The IIHS gives it a Top Safety Pick award, but only applies it to vehicles with the optional adaptive LED headlights. Other models’ headlights are dubbed “Poor.”

The NHTSA hasn’t published crash-test results yet. If they come in with good results, this score will rise to an 8.

Every GLC comes with automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors. Active park assist now comes standard as well. On the options list, Mercedes bundles adaptive cruise control, active lane control, lane-change assist, and other safety features. It also sells a surround-view camera system and a head-up display. We’d recommend the extra dose of safety technology, since the GLC’s roof pillars create big blind spots, especially in the Coupe model.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Features

The GLC-Class’ relatively humble base price soars in AMG trim.

The 2021 GLC-Class offers two drive configurations, three kinds of power, and all kinds of features. It’s well stocked in base versions, has a long options list and a good infotainment system. It’s an 8 here.

The $43,250 GLC300 has synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, a 10.3-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated power front seats, and a power liftgate. This year the GLC SUV adds standard keyless start, while both the SUV and Coupe get active park assist standard.

Mercedes’ new MBUX interface runs via touchpad, touchscreen, or steering wheel controls, gesture controls, or internet-connected voice commands. 

Options include a choice of body styles, all-wheel drive, adaptive headlights, an AMG Line or Night styling pack, a panoramic sunroof, cooled front seats, leather upholstery, heated rear seats, and Burmester sound.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class should I buy?

We like the step-up GLC43 AMG, which adds on standard all-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels, AMG-tuned suspension and graphic interfaces, and a price tag in the high $50,000s. This year the AMG models get parking sensors with active park assist standard.

How much is a fully loaded Mercedes GLC?

The GLC63 AMG costs $74,950.

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class

Fuel Economy

The GLC's gas mileage is average.

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class good on gas?

It’s average for its class. With a wide range of models in the lineup, we assign a score of 4 to the GLC here based on the most popular model, the GLC SUV with the turbo-4 engine. 

The EPA scores that model at 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined with rear-wheel drive, and 21/28/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. The AWD Coupe’s rated at 22/28/24 mpg.

The GLC43 crossovers check in at 18/24/20 and 17/24/20 mpg as an SUV and as a Coupe, respectively, while the GLC63’s pegged at 15/22/17 mpg for the SUV and 15/22/17 mpg for the Coupe.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$43,200
MSRP based on GLC 300 SUV
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7.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 8
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 7
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class Pricing Insights

  • 2021 GLC-Class on sale now
  • Lease: From $499/mo.
  • Rebates: $1,000 finance bonus cash
  • Finance: From 2.99% for 72 mo.
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