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2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC vs. 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK: What's the Difference?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Doug DeMuro May 2016

There's a new entrant into the world of SUVs from Mercedes-Benz: a compact luxury crossover called the GLC that replaces the brand's boxy GLK SUV for the 2016 model year.

Although it's clear that the models look different, you might be wondering what else is new between the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK, not to mention whether the new GLC is worth the price premium over a used or certified pre-owned version of the outgoing GLK. We've created a close comparison in order to help you learn all the differences and decide which one is right for you.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Exterior

On the outside, the GLC is radically different from the outgoing GLK. While the GLK was boxy and blocky in an attempt to link its design to Mercedes' larger G-Class SUV, the GLC is more attractive, curvier and more modern, with a look that feels more traditional overall.

Although the GLK certainly had its fans, we suspect the GLC's design will appeal to a wider range of shoppers, as many car buyers felt the GLK's boxy looks didn't translate well to its smaller size.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Interior

As different as the GLC is on the outside compared to the GLK, it's been updated even more substantially on the inside. Gone is the GLK's old-fashioned interior, with its blocky, upright center control stack and widespread use of questionable plastics. In its place is a gorgeous, new dashboard design with a flowing center stack that's perfectly integrated into the rest of the cabin.

Also new is a larger infotainment screen, now positioned above the center stack, rather than in a kind of infotainment tunnel as it was in the GLK. As usual, the SUV's materials quality has also improved, while interior room and cargo space have increased.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Mechanicals

The GLK offered two engines. The gas-powered GLK350 used a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, which returned up to 19 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Meanwhile, the diesel-powered GLK250 BlueTEC used a 2.1-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder, which offered 200 hp and up to 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.

At the moment, the GLC offers just one engine: the GLC300's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, which makes 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. It returns up to 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. Although other models aren't yet in dealerships, we expect to see a diesel-powered GLC, as well as a high-performance variant.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Features & Technology

Given its updates on the inside, outside and under the hood, it should come as no surprise that the GLC offers a wide range of equipment and features improvements over the outgoing GLK. Upgrades include a larger infotainment screen, a revised 360-degree camera system, LED headlights, an automatic active suspension, an available 14-speaker Burmester stereo, an available in-car Wi-Fi hot spot and a hands-free lift gate.

With that said, the GLK wasn't exactly low on technology. In its final years, Mercedes offered the SUV with virtually all modern safety features (including automatic forward-collision braking and lane-keep assist), as well as cutting-edge conveniences such as automated parallel parking and adaptive cruise control. Still, the GLC is the model technophiles will want.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Driving Experience

Although we never faulted the GLK for its driving experience, we really like how the GLC drives. It's smooth, comfortable, quick and surprisingly sporty, and its large windows provide a good view of the road from just about every angle. Additionally, the interior is quiet and full of top-quality materials that give the GLC far more of an upscale look than its GLK predecessor.

Don't get us wrong: The GLK was hardly bad on the road, as it offered a sturdy, stable road feel that gave us confidence in just about every maneuver. But the GLC is a little better in virtually every area, from interior noise to ride comfort and smoothness.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class2016 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Safety

Neither the GLC nor the GLK has been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The GLK was tested by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and earned mostly strong ratings, though it fell short of the firm's Top Safety Pick designation. The GLC has not yet been tested by the IIHS.

As for safety features, both models offer just about everything you could need or want, from the basics such as side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes to more modern technologies, including forward-collision warning with automatic braking, automated parallel parking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist and a blind spot monitoring system. With the exception of a few small upgrades (a slightly better 360-degree camera in the GLC and LED headlights, for example), these two models are mostly the same when it comes to safety.

Conclusions

There's a lot of major differences that separate the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK, and not just from a styling perspective. The GLC offers new engines, new features and a more refined driving experience, along with more interior room and improved quality. Unless you find a really good deal on a GLK, we strongly suggest opting for the GLC and its many advantages instead.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC vs. 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK: What's the Difference? - Autotrader