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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class: New Car Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class has a particularly luxurious air. Naturally, it’s a premium compact crossover from a marque renowned for luxury, so such an upscale demeanor isn’t so surprising. But even among its high-quality peers, the GLC has something extra: A little more refinement, an extra touch of sophistication.

This is evident in the cabin materials, the ride, the build, the standard equipment and the many options. The GLC does everything right that it needs to, and gets nothing wrong, effortlessly carrying out its duties.

There’s also a "coupe" variant, which is reviewed separately. To underline the distinction, Mercedes-Benz calls this regular version the GLC SUV.

What’s New for 2019?

It actually arrived late in the 2018 cycle, but the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid becomes a fully fledged member of the range and it receives the option of a new-design 20-inch alloy wheel. Heated front seats and a 115-volt outlet are now standard throughout the range. Joining the options list are an Off-Road Engineering package for all-wheel-drive versions of the GLC 300, tri-zone automatic climate control, plus some cosmetic packages and new exterior paint choices.

What We Like

Premium presence; fuel-efficient 4-cylinder powertrain; engaging AMG versions

What We Don’t

Comes at a premium price

How Much?

$41,545–$71,795

Fuel Economy

A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder powers the GLC 300. It makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and connects to a 9-speed automatic transmission, with standard rear-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive, known as 4Matic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 22 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined, regardless of the number of driven wheels.

The GLC 350e 4Matic plug-in hybrid deploys a turbocharged 2.0-liter/4-cylinder engine and an electric motor for a total system output of 320 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission sends that energy to all four wheels. Using battery power only, range is up to nine miles. The combination of electric mode and regular mode gives the GLC 350e an average miles-per-gallon equivalent of 56 MPGe. Running as a regular drivetrain, consumption is rated at 24 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

The GLC 43 AMG model has a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing an energetic 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. It uses basically the same 9-speed automatic transmission as the GLC 300 (although it’s been tuned for faster shifts) and all-wheel drive is standard. The EPA puts fuel use at 18 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.

The GLC 63 sports a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 endowed with 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard here also. Fuel consumption is 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV is a 5-seater premium compact crossover available in straightforward GLC 300 form, the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid (PHEV), the mildly sporty AMG GLC 43 model or the much sportier AMG GLC 63.

The GLC 300 ($41,545) has 18-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights/taillights, 14-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory settings, heated/rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors (self-dimming on the driver’s side), self-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding rear seats, roof rails, powered tailgate, 7-in display for the Comand infotainment system, Comand touchpad, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, drive mode settings, rearview camera, 8-speaker audio system, two USB ports, HD radio and Bluetooth phone/audio streaming.

The 4Matic all-wheel drive system costs $2,000. The GLC 300 is also eligible for LED exterior lighting with adaptive high beams, along with the packages and options mentioned below.

A Premium package features blind spot monitoring, keyless entry/ignition and satellite radio. The Multimedia package adds an 8.4-in infotainment screen and voice-controlled navigation. A Night package adds black 19-in wheels and exterior accents.

The Driver Assistance package includes advanced safety aids like adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, cross-traffic assistance and active steering assistance. A Parking Assist package brings a 360-degree camera system, automated parking, hands-free tailgate and parking sensors at both ends.

Other options include an air suspension, leather upholstery, heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, power-adjustable front passenger seat, Burmester 14-speaker audio system upgrade, cabin air purification/fragrance treatment, 20-in alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, Wi-Fi, rear seat entertainment system, Class II trailer hitch and an illuminated grille badge.

The GLC 350e plug-in hybrid ($51,645) is equipped much like the GLC 300, but adds a few model-specific gauges, plus radar-based regenerative braking and LED headlights.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 ($57,995) comes with all-wheel drive as standard, along with the adaptive air suspension, 20-in AMG-designed alloy wheels, various cosmetic touches inside and out, plus blind spot monitoring, heated front seats, keyless entry/ignition and satellite radio.

The GLC 63 ($71,795) includes AMG-specific additions, such as stronger brakes and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, plus a hand-crafted V8 engine.

Cargo space amounts to 20.5 cu ft. behind the rear seats, or 56.5 cu ft. when they’re folded down. Mercedes-Benz has yet to supply any figures regarding cargo space in the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid.

Safety

The array of standard safety equipment is impressive, including anti-lock brakes, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, Crosswind Assist, trailer sway control, driver drowsiness monitoring, side airbags and side curtain airbags.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the GLC a Top Safety Pick Plus.

Behind the Wheel

Just about anyone will be impressed with the GLC 300 after even a short spell behind the wheel. Direct steering and a smooth, serene, luxurious ride are complemented by a punchy engine. Factor in the quality cabin materials, the interior’s tranquility, plus the various safety features, and this crossover is a year-round joy.

The GLC 43 is not super-hot, but still flexes a satisfying amount of muscle. It accentuates talents in the chassis that are not so apparent with the smaller engine. Drive settings span from economical to Sport Plus and a personal customized mode. So things can be fun or family-friendly, all at the touch of button.

The GLC 63 has a heck of a lot of power for something this size and will zip from standstill to 60 miles per hour in just 3.8 seconds.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Acura RDX — Although the Acura cachet is not quite up to the level of Mercedes-Benz, the RDX is an excellent choice thanks to a standard 3.5-liter V6, plus many high-tech options and features for the price.

2019 Audi Q5/SQ5 — An excellent contender with 252 hp, slightly more than the GLC 300. The SQ5 isn’t quite as powerful as the GLC 43, but it’s still an impressive vehicle.

2019 BMW X3 — Sportier than the GLC 300, but refined in its own way.

2019 Lexus NX — Aimed at those who prefer luxury over performance, the NX offers a lackluster 4-cylinder model and a fuel-efficient hybrid. But it also enjoys renowned Lexus build quality as well as head-turning styling. Upgraded for 2018.

2019 Porsche Macan Turbo — This is a GLC 63 rival that "only" has 400 hp (or 440 hp with the optional Performance Package), but has Porsche’s legendary dynamics to compensate.

Used Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class — If a little more space is required, consider the larger GLE as a certified pre-owned (CPO) model.

Autotrader’s Advice

A GLC 300 4Matic ought to be sufficient for the majority of buyers, which might leave enough cash to spare for a few more options, like the Premium and Driver Assistance packages.

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