By Peter Perrotta
It wasn’t too long ago that the luxury sedan was the model that ruled the car market when it came to Mercedes Benz.
The longtime staples for the German car maker were the solid but not all that exciting C, E and S class sedans.
While Mercedes designers spent much of the last decade correcting that image by redesigning those sedans – making them more sportier looking and more dynamic – something else was afoot in Stuttgart.
The explosion of the popularity of the SUV – whether expected or unexpected – hit Mercedes.
The end result of that automotive epiphany is that the GLC SUV has now become the bestselling model in the Mercedes Benz lineup.
I recently road tested the 2020 Mercedes GLC 300 4Matic SUV for one week to see what all the hub bub was about.
While not without any imperfections, I found a lot to like in this newly redesigned SUV with a more powerful 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine. It has a handsome new stance on the exterior, well designed interior accoutrements and a new powerplant – while not perfect – exciting enough to lend some verve to the driving experience.
Michael Christof, project manager for the GLC at Mercedes, confirms that “since the market launch in 2008, more than 1.5 million units of the GLK and its even more popular successor, the GLC, have been sold.”
Christof adds, “over the past ten years, the GLK and GLC have been the bestselling Mercedes SUVs. In 2018, in the year before the model facelift, the GLC and the GLC Coupe even set up a new worldwide unit sales record with well over 400,000 units sold – an increase of just under 20 percent.”
The reviews of this model have been solid as well.
The omnipresent Consumer Reports stated: “The GLC we tested was quite enjoyable. It had a comfortable ride and handled with athleticism. The tastefully appointed cabin was quiet, with comfortable front seats.”
I am not sure I totally agree about the comfortable seats part, but I would say that CR was spot on with most of the other assessments.
The GLC 300 4matic SUV I tested has a base price of $44,500. However, my tester came chock full of $16,370 worth of options. When you add the $995 for destination and delivery the sticker price of the car I drove for one week came in at $61,865.
Some of the major options on this tester included: $1,620 for the AMG Cranberry Red/Black leather interior; $1,500 for the panoramic roof; $1,100 for the heads up display; $1,700 for the driver assistance package; $1,290 for the parking assistance package; $1,250 for the multimedia package and $1,600 for the AMG body styling additions.
Some of the lesser expensive options included: $720 for Iridium Silver metallic paint; $350 for Mercedes MB-tex dash for door sills; $250 for heated steering wheel; $750 for the 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster; $760 for three zone climate control; $850 for Burmeister sound system; $580 for heated rear seats and $200 for wireless charging.
Some of the key features on the newly designed front on the 2020 GLC include: an SUV style radiator grille with heavily contoured cutout and twin louvres, and chrome trim with breaks; and, an SUV specific simulated underride guard in the front bumper with three additional prominent air inlets.
Some key features of the rear redesign include: a prominent rear bumper with two visible exhaust tail pipers integrated into the bumper; newly designed all LED rear lights and an available AMG line with redesigned bumper including diffusor and new chrome trim element.
I found the new design to be appealing, lending the GLC a more pronounced and rugged but sporty – at the same time – look.
Under the hood and on the dash were perhaps the bigger changes.
The 2020 GLC comes standard with a newly enhanced and more powerful 2.0 liter, 4 cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower at 273 pound feet of torque – 14 more horsepower than the previous engine.
The engine is married with a 9G-tronic, 9 speed automatic transmission. I found this combination to be sound. At times, though, it seemed like the trans and engine combo were working a bit overtime when sudden acceleration was needed.
For the most part, though, I found the new engine to be an able and competent performer under the myriad of driving conditions I experienced for the week.
However, for me to really experience a true driving verve with this model, I found myself reaching for the center console, on demand driving mode selector switch and pushing it into the “sport plus” mode to get that feeling.
Mercedes calls this drive mode selector “Dynamic Select”. It is standard equipment in the GLC. The system modifies the driving characteristics at the touch of button. The characteristics of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering can be changed depending on the type of drive mode selected.
My choices included: comfort; eco; sport; sport plus and individual. There are also two other choices that come with the Off road Engineering package: off road and off road plus.
Also new this year is the Mercedes MBUX – Mercedes Benz User Experience – system in the GLC. It comes standard with a 10.25 inch center touch screen. My tester had the upgraded 12.5 inche screen.
Consumer Reports says the new MBUX system was customizable and vivid, but “overly distracting”. I don’t agree with that. While at first, seemingly complicated – aren’t most of these infotainment systems – after I got used to it, I found it fairly easy to navigate.
As of this writing the newly redesigned GLC had not undergone the government crash tests.
The EPA fuel ratings for this car came in at 24 miles per gallon overall – 21 in city driving and 28 on the highway.
The average annual fuel cost for this model is $2,050. It uses about 4.2 gallons of gas per every 100 miles driven.
Overall, I would say that anyone thinking of leasing or purchasing a mid-sized SUV should give heavy consideration to this model – perhaps less optioned to make it a little lighter on the pocketbook.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. Comments and questions are welcomed. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org