The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-class is a solidly competent if unassuming entry in the ever-important compact-luxury-SUV class. While competitors such as the Porsche Macan, the Jaguar F-Pace, and the BMW X3 offer a more vivid driving experience, the GLC-class skates by anonymously, neither exciting nor offending. Don’t get us wrong—there is magic in the bones of the C-class–based GLC-class, but to truly enjoy time behind the wheel, you’ll need to plop down $55,825 for the 362-hp twin-turbo V-6–powered Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4MATIC.
Nevertheless, those content with the $40,075 GLC300’s more detached driving experience and 241-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four will find a top-notch interior that is paired with competent handling and a cushy ride. Available with rear- or all-wheel drive ($2000), the GLC300’s powertrain may lack the underhood fervor found in some other compact luxury crossovers, but the four-pot edition still is plenty quick, with a GLC300 4MATIC sprinting from zero to 60 mph in a very respectable 5.9 seconds in our testing. Yet in day-to-day driving, the GLC300 never feels particularly eager. Partial blame goes to the nine-speed automatic transmission, which is programmed to have the GLC300 start off in second gear when the car is in its default Comfort mode. Sport and Sport+ drive settings override this, as do steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, but those modes must be selected every time the GLC300 is restarted.
For the purpose of this review, we drove a $42,075 GLC300 4MATIC fitted with $19,820 in options, bringing its sticker price to $61,895. A GLC300 equipped with just our test car’s $7200 Premium 3 package (which also requires the $850 Burmester stereo system and $580 heated front seats) would lower the price to a more reasonable $50,705 while keeping important technology and active-safety features. Premium 3 includes a proximity key, navigation, a touchpad for the COMAND system, satellite radio, illuminated doorsills, a perfume atomizer, swiveling LED headlights with automatic high-beams, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, an automatic braking system capable of detecting pedestrians, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and a host of other items.
All-new for 2016, the GLC-class enters 2017 almost completely unchanged. Those willing to sacrifice cargo space for additional style, however, may want to look at the new-for-2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC-class coupe.
The GLC-class has one of the most lavish cabins in the compact-luxury-crossover segment. Sharing much of its design with the C-class, the GLC’s interior employs top-notch materials and has pleasing and expensive-looking details throughout. Additionally, it has a comfortable and accommodating rear bench seat that offers generous headroom and legroom.
In non-AMG trim, the GLC-class’s exterior design is largely invisible, especially when equipped with the standard 18-inch wheels. The optional 19- and 20-inch wheels help add sizzle to the GLC’s visuals—but at the expense of ride quality. More style points can be found with the Macan and the F-Pace. Also, the COMAND infotainment system’s touchpad is a finicky tool that’s easy to accidentally rub against, triggering menu changes or selections. Finally, as our test car shows, loading on too many options can quickly inflate the GLC-class’s price.