Class: Premium Compact Crossover
Miles driven: 302
Fuel used: 13.9 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 21.6 mpg
Driving mix: 70% city, 30% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 21/28/24 (city, highway, combined)
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||B|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||A|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||255-hp 2.0-liter|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cylinder|
Fuel type: Premium gas recommended
Base price: $44,500 (not including $995 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Graphite Grey Metallic paint ($720), AMG Cranberry Red/Black leather interior ($1620), MB-Tex dashboard and upper door sills ($350), passenger-seat memory w/ adj. thigh support ($350), panorama roof ($1500), Off-Road Engineering Package ($300), 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ($750), Burmester surround-sound system ($850), heat- and noise-insulating front-side dual-pane glass ($150), inductive wireless charging and NFC pairing ($200), Driver Assistance Package ($1700), Parking Assistance Package ($1290), Exterior Lighting Package ($800), Multimedia Package ($1250), Night Package ($400), AMG Line trim ($1600), Premium Package ($500)
Price as tested: $59,825
The great: High-end interior ambiance; new 4-cylinder engine provides lively acceleration
The good: Decent passenger space; comfortable ride
The not so good: Pricey options drive up bottom-line price; some complicated infotainment controls
Given the choice between being “spectacular” or “likeable,” is it enough to be the latter? We wonder after having driven Mercedes-Benz’s GLC 300 4MATIC premium-compact crossover. It’s an easy vehicle to like without its being outright spectacular.
For 2020 the GLC-Class vehicles—a traditional wagon-body sport-ute and a four-door hatchback “coupe”—get subtly refreshed styling, an updated infotainment system, and a new 4-cylinder engine for the 300-level models. Otherwise, GLCs are very much like they have been since the model line bowed in 2016 as a derivative of the C-Class sedan platform.
The GLC 300 engine is still a turbocharged 2.0-liter job, but the new one is rated at 255 horsepower (a gain of 14 over the previous engine) and 273 lb-ft of torque. With that maximum torque arriving as soon as 1800 rpm and sticking around to 4000 revs, there’s a true liveliness to the vehicle. The 9-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responds well when required to kick down for acceleration. Clicking into “Sport” mode adds a pinch of extra accelerative spice to the sauce by delaying upshifts. Plus, the powerteam seems to live up to expectations for fuel consumption. The EPA projects a 300 4MATIC like the one Consumer Guide tested to average 21 mpg in city driving, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 combined; this reviewer attained 22.1 mpg after a stint of 163 miles, 60 percent of which was in city-type operation.
Bestowed with a fully independent multilink suspension, the GLC 300 rides nicely, and it handles with ease. In “Sport+” it is perhaps a half shade tighter in steering and damping, but it’s all pretty much the same vehicle all the time. To this driver, the GLC was eminently likeable on the road, but not really stirring or engaging.
If anything did quicken his pulse, and not in a good way, it was the Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment controls. MBUX, as the manufacturer calls it, trades console dial control for a central touchpad. Graphics displayed on the 10.25-inch touchscreen are great, but working functions through the touchpad while driving will take time to master. Here’s one small example: To access a preset radio station requires dragging a finger over the pad until the display indicates you’ve reached the one you want—which diverts attention— then tapping to call it up. (A no-look thumb button on the steering wheel would be so much more convenient.) Even turning the radio off is a 2-step process. What looks like “on/off” button on console just summons a 2-choice prompt on the display screen, and then you press that to actually turn the radio off.
What is much easier to like is the interior room for people and things. There is decent headroom throughout. Legroom is quite good up front, and let’s say sufficient in back for two average-sized adults. (Three-across seating for grown-ups isn’t really possible.) Seats are comfortable; the optional leather upholstery in Cranberry Red and Black made them plush and attractive. Driver vision suffers at the rear corners, but isn’t bad to the front and sides.
Personal storage for front passengers relies on a capacious glove box, pretty roomy split-top console box, a covered console bin for cup holders and wireless charging/device inputs, and door pockets with bottle holders. Second-row storage consists of hard-sided pouches on the backs of the front seats, smaller door pockets/bottle holders, and a center armrest with pop-out cup holders and a shallow covered bin. With all seats up, there’s pretty good cargo space in back that loads at bumper-height, and there’s also lots of underfloor room. The 40/20/40 rear seats fold flat for a big expansion of load floor; remote releases in the cargo bay make this process easier.
What can be spectacular about the GLC 300 is its price. CG’s tester went from a believable starting price of $45,495 with delivery to an eye-popping final $60,575, though it had a list of options nearly as deep as the standard-equipment roster. For the lower number you’ll get dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless starting, wood interior trim, Bluetooth connectivity, connected services, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, heated front seats, power liftgate, cargo cover, roof rails, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED exterior lighting, and blind-spot assist. A highlight reel of the many things added, either singly or in option packages, includes the Graphite Grey Metallic paint, “MB-Tex” leatherette dash and upper-door covering, panoramic sunroof, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless charging, a group of safety monitors and adaptive cruise control, navigation, and satellite radio. The takeaway is the individual buyer becomes the master of just how much luxury will be in his or her luxury vehicle. Note that a rear-wheel-drive GLC 300 costs $2000 less.
It’s a good bet that the AMG versions of the GLC, either the 43 with a 369-horsepower V6 or the 63 with a 469-horse V8, elicit a lot more passion for the vehicle among their owners. Meanwhile, the 300 is likeable—but if people like it to the point of wanting to buy one, then that is enough.
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