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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC

Right-sizing the luxury experience

Crossover SUVs are quickly overtaking sedans in popularity, and the luxury segment isn’t immune to the trend. While the Lexus RX is the progenitor of the species, the rapidly expanding portfolio of compact luxury models positioned just below it (see our Small Luxury SUV Comparison Test) has opened up the market to a wider swath of buyers. Our selection as this year’s Luxury SUV Best Buy, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC embodies many of the attributes that shoppers seek from these go-anywhere, do-anything wonders and pushes both the practical and emotional buttons that can justify the GLC’s place in your garage.

Class-above qualities

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300 is just about the perfect compact luxury SUV. It doesn’t just look good, it also offers great room for its size and good performance from an economical turbocharged 241-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Replacing the more angular GLK, the GLC has clean, uncluttered lines which contribute to a handsome look that is both understated and elegant. It stands in stark contrast to edgier designs that count on shock value alone to turn your head. The boldest element is the large three-pointed star that dominates the grille, not a bad calling card when one speaks of luxury.

Even though it is nominally a compact, the GLC has a presence that positions it almost a class above, not only from the wide track and roomy cabin, but also in the materials and craftsmanship employed inside. The dash, seats and doors are covered with MB-Tex and soft-touch surfaces in areas like the lower instrument panel and door panels, areas on which some other manufacturers use hard plastics. The overall cabin design is contemporary, adorned with well-designed controls that actually contribute to the SUV’s interior appeal. The Comand system with its rotary knob has evolved to be more intuitive, while redundant switchgear on both the console and steering wheel gives you several options on controlling critical systems while minimizing driver distraction.

As a 5-passenger compact crossover, the GLC offers comfortable front buckets with a rear split-folding bench that accommodates two with ease and three in a pinch. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat has 20.5 cubic feet of storage space behind it, and opens up a cavernous cargo area of 56.5 cubic feet when stowed in a near flat position. Though the vehicle has a relatively tall ride height, vehicle step-in is easy both front and rear. Rear liftover to the flat load floor is low and the wide hatch gives excellent access to the cargo area.  

Driving in style

The GLC’s Mercedes-Benz pedigree extends well beyond the design and interior finish to the driving experience. Based on an architecture derived from both the C- and E-Class sedans, the GLC has firm, communicative steering. It has all the dynamic character you expect from a German luxury entry with the added benefit of a high seating position that gives great outward visibility. The stiff structure and sound insulation contribute to a level of quiet that one would expect from a larger, pricier luxury sedan.

Beneath the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. The longitudinally mounted engine is mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission and delivers power to all four corners through Mercedes’ 4Matic system. In addition to providing spirited acceleration, the turbo 4-cylinder also delivers 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24 mpg. In addition, the GLC is equipped with a defeatable automatic stop/start system, which works well, but not quite as seamlessly as the best such systems we’ve encountered. With this layout, the power delivery is biased towards the rear axle, giving the GLC the handling chops of a sports sedan. And yet its generous 113.3-inch wheelbase contributes to a comfortable ride that’s not mushy.

Part of the standard equipment on the GLC300 is Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system that allows the driver to tailor vehicle response to meet a variety of needs. The modes include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+, as well a setting that allows you to customize inputs from the various modes. Comfort is the go-to setting for everyday driving; we found throttle tip-in a bit too stingy in Eco mode. If you want a little more edge to the throttle as well as quicker shifts from the transmission and higher-effort steering, then the Sport and Sport+ settings are there to accommodate your performance whims.

All in the family

The GLC offers a wide range of options to the buyer, starting at $40,950 for the base 4Matic model with 18-inch wheels. Optional touches include a $1,480 panoramic sunroof, $850 Burmester premium sound system, $2,330 Comand system with 10-inch screen and navigation, as well as a $2,800 driver assist package that includes adaptive cruise control along with steering and lane keeping assist. They add up quickly, and our nearly fully loaded test model topped out at $58,060. With this wide bandwidth of models and options, there’s an opportunity for those looking to get into a Mercedes in the low-$40,000 range up through buyers looking to reward themselves with all the best the German automaker has to offer.

But even if the price looks a bit steep going in, excellent resale value helps the Mercedes-Benz GLC offer superior 5-Year Cost to Own figures. In other words, spending more for the Mercedes can be cheaper in the long run than choosing a cheaper alternative. That’s smart luxury. That’s a Luxury SUV Best Buy.

More 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC

For more on this award-winning compact luxury SUV, read our 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC expert review. You can also build and price your own Mercedes-Benz GLC to unlock its Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more. Find out more in our Compact Luxury SUV Buyer’s Guide.

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