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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Class Review

  • 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
  • The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class goes on sale in late 2019.
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 new 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 GLC 300 is available with or without all-wheel drive, and the high-powered GLC 63—only available with all-wheel drive—comes in one of two engine outputs, base or S.

Base crossovers cost more than $43,000 to start, while the top GLC 63 S Coupe runs more than $85,000. The 2020 GLC-Class will go on sale in winter 2019.

We give the range a 7.5, skewed heavily toward the GLC300 4Matic crossover, which is more popular with buyers. That’s without fuel economy or safety info, which could raise or lower the score slightly.

Style and performance
The GLC-Class is the tall-roof companion to the C-Class, if anyone remembers what that is. The GLC crossover is better looking by some estimations, and its space is more practical for more people. The exterior hasn't changed much with this year’s fluff-and-buff refresh—new bumpers, headlights, and taillights, and a new grille—it’s what’s on the inside that matters more, according to Mercedes-Benz and your parents.

The interior of the GLC-Class is treated to the same sumptuous materials that get better with more money, and a newly standard 10.3-inch touchscreen bolted above the climate controls that runs Mercedes’ improved infotainment system, dubbed MBUX.

Mercedes’ new system runs via touchpad, touchscreen, or steering wheel controls, gesture controls, or if you’re loose and comfortable with the social contract—internet-connected voice commands. Getting directions to the mall is easier than waking up Siri, whether that’s a good thing is wholly not up to us.

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. EPA figures for the 2020 version aren’t yet available, but Mercedes promises similar or better numbers than the 24-mpg highway mark from last year.

The GLC rides atop standard steel springs or an optional air suspension with adaptive dampers, but both rides are creamy. The standard 18-inch wheels are a little firm, but they fill in road imperfections better than construction crews.

Comfort, safety, and features
The dimensions of the GLC-Class haven’t changed, even if the insides have. 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.

The base synthetic leather warms up with more money—high-class shades of hides and wood are available as optional extras and make the GLC feel warmer than some of its competitors.

High-po GLC 63 models wear daring accents in yellow or red, complete with carbon “faux-ber” panels that look good but seem somewhat superfluous in a 4,500-pound crossover.

The 2020 GLC hasn’t yet been sacrificed to a wall in the name of safety tests, but last year’s version is largely identical and was a Top Safety Pick+ by independent testers. We’ll wait until more data is available before crowning it again. 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 GLC 63 S Coupe offers high horsepower and high fashion: a slinky roofline, dazzling interior, and mind-bending speed.

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.

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 GLC 63 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 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: GLC63 or GLC63 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.

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 interior comfort, material quality, and palatial front seats. It’s an 8.

The front seats are comfortable for all body types in the GLC300. The GLC 63 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, with two caveats: First, the GLC crossover is better for hauling three abreast, and second, 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.

The 2020 GLC-Class lacks official crash-test data.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class hasn’t been crash tested yet by either of the major safety rating organizations in the U.S. We’ll withhold our score until more data is available, which should be late 2019 or early 2020.

There’s a reason for optimism without official safety data, however. The 2019 GLC-Class was rated a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS, its highest award. (That designation applied to crossovers equipped with SUVs equipped with the Advanced Lighting package.)

Absent official data, every 2020 GLC-Class crossover and coupe is equipped with automatic emergency braking. 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.

No GLC-Class is poorly equipped, but add-on extras make the small crossover a rolling palace.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class starts north of $43,000, 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.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class goes on sale in late 2019, and option prices haven’t yet been finalized. Base crossovers start at more than $43,000 and coupes cost close to $51,000. The AMG models start at nearly $75,000 for a GLC 63 crossover, and the GLC 63 S Coupe runs the tab up to more than $85,000.

We’ll update this space with options and prices once those become finalized.

Fuel Economy
The EPA hasn’t yet rated the 2020 GLC-Class for efficiency.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class hasn’t yet been rated by the EPA. Absent those ratings we can’t give it a score here, so we’ll hold off for now.

Last year, the GLC300 rated 24 mpg combined with or without all-wheel drive and the GLC300 Coupe rated 23 mpg combined. Mercedes says the 2020 version should manage similar or better figures.

View my Flipboard Magazine.

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