Small Luxury SUV Comparison: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC
Expanding its Horizons
Starting MSRP: $39,875
Above Average: Luxury character, excellent driving dynamics
Below Average: Price/value relationship suffers when heavily optioned
Consensus: Has the style, design and dynamic character to be a standout player in this burgeoning segment
500 Miles in 155 Words
An all-new replacement for the GLK-Class, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 takes the firm’s compact luxo SUV to a far loftier level of desirability. Handsomely styled and larger where it counts, inside and out, the newly renamed GLC borrows much of its mechanical running gear as well as upgraded interior elements and advanced tech touches from the current C-Class to create a genuinely engaging vehicle that can be extensively personalized. Fully exploiting that formidable potential can -- and does -- impact the value story, as fully loading a GLC300 sends its opening sticker from slightly below $40,000 to well beyond the $60K mark. That said, highly desirable versions can be crafted for less than $50,000. Currently the sole powertrain for the rear-drive GLC300 and the GLC300 4Matic is a 241-horse/2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and 9-speed automatic transmission -- a combo that delivers relatively brisk performance and earns both a commendable 24 mpg combined EPA economy rating.
A Closer Look
Truly a well-rounded personality, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic makes a more compelling case for itself with each passing mile. Comfortable, refined and solid, this new Mercedes melds real-time competency and charm with the promise of future solid resale value. Here’s a quick look at how the GLC300 4Matic fared in our key performance categories:
Highway Driving The 2.1-liter turbo-4 in the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 has plenty in hand for freeway cruising -– and passing –- duties, even when saddled with the extra 111 pounds of the 4Matic AWD system. Compliance of the base Agility Control suspension is fairly impressive even with the optional 20-inch wheel/tire package on our evaluation vehicle. However, like the standard 18-inch setup, the GLC300’s mandatory run-flat rubber does exact a modest penalty in ride stiffness and road noise. Our Mercedes tester also featured the optional Driver Assistance Package that can further sweeten any long-distance experience by supplementing the GLC300’s standard Brake Assist Plus, Attention Assist and crosswind stabilization systems with Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control and Steering and Lane-Keeping assists.
City Driving The new GLC300 is equally adept at coping with the rigors of in-town commuting thanks to a host of built-in or available features. Despite its generous 113.3-inch wheelbase, a fairly compact 38.8-foot turning circle helps even the 4Matic version slice through urban sprawl and crowded parking lots with equal ease. Reasonably good sightlines are complemented by a standard rearview camera and the auto-braking capability of the GLC300’s Collision Prevention Plus system, features further abetted by its Pre-Safe Braking with pedestrian recognition and rear cross-traffic alert systems also contained in the Driver Assistance Package.
If there is a nit to pick here, it comes in the Eco setting on the GLC300’s standard multi-mode (Eco/Comfort/Sport/Sport+/Individual) Dynamic Select setup that allows the driver to fine-tune various functional control inputs. The decidedly anemic throttle response in Eco is improved in Comfort, a choice that still activates the GLC300’s standard fuel-saving start-stop function. That latter tech flourish, while not the most seamless we’ve ever encountered, does deliver quick and reasonably low-key transitions.
Sporty Driving Not as overtly athletic as the Infiniti QX50, the GLC300 4Matic proved surprisingly adroit at corner carving, particularly when toggled into Sport/Sport+ modes and having its gear choices selected via steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. The standard steel suspension does a solid job of curtailing body roll and those more enthusiast-oriented Drive Select settings add welcome edge to its steering feel and throttle map. Further elevating the capability of our tester was an optional AMG-spec 20-inch wheel/tire upgrade that wrapped stickier, lower-profile rubber around bigger rims.
Interior Appeal Even decked out in standard MB-Tex in place of available leather or super-posh designo trim, the GLC300 boasts a classy, contemporary cabin design that matches high-quality materials -- including real Linden or Burl Walnut wood -- with impressive levels of comfort, convenience and user-friendliness. Highlights includes its prominent 7.0-inch color display screen and central media interface controller as well as logically arrayed switchgear, dual-zone auto climate control and a power rear liftgate.
Infotainment Like the C-Class from which it’s culled, the infotainment system in the GLC300 reflects M-B’s latest thinking in this arena. As such, it’s eminently capable but does take some time to master and still requires more menu drilling than we find ideal to access certain functions. The optional 14-speaker Burmester Surround Sound system is top notch, but the map displays on the available navigation system lack the graphic punch of other SUVs in this comparo.
Rear Seat The aft quarters of the GLC300 are fully adult accommodating, with the outboard positions of its 40/20/40-split bench being the most desirable spots. This versatile Merc’s combination of a long wheelbase and wide-swing doors also makes for comparatively easy entry/exit.
Cargo Utility The rear bay of the GLC300 offers an impressive 20.5 cu-ft of basic stow space that can be upped to 56.5 cu-ft in both rear-drive and 4Matic models. Although liftover height is slightly higher than the Lincoln and Infiniti, the Merc’s large hatch cutout and near-flat-folding seatbacks make utilizing its full potential easy, as do redundant one-touch flip-down buttons located on the C-pillar in the passenger compartment as well as in the cargo area.
Fuel Economy While the Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic falls one mpg shy of its rear-drive sibling in the city, both earn impressive 28 mpg highway ratings and carry 24 mpg combined marks. Save for the 25 mpg combined number of the front-drive Lexus NX 200t -- which also gets a 24 mpg overall stat in AWD form -- that puts the Mercedes at the head of this group in fuel frugality.
Resale Value With the best predicted resale value in this group, choosing the Mercedes might even be the smartest move financially.
Inside and Out: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC