The Mercedes-Benz GLC currently occupies the top spot in our rankings of small luxury SUVs. It's earned its title-belt status with admirable driving dynamics, an elegant design inside and out, a spacious interior, and a fuel-efficient base engine. The only quality we previously thought was subpar was the GLC's aging infotainment system. Well, for 2020, we can't even say that. The GLC receives Mercedes' new MBUX system plus other updates to keep it competitive among mounting pressure from Audi and BMW. In reality, that effort also serves to further its lead in the class.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC First Drive
The Best Just Got a Little Bit Better
Judging the Book Cover
From the outside, not much changes on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC. Mercedes added restyled bumpers, new LED headlights and taillights, and a slightly revised grille, but these changes are subtle and require a keen eye to discern.
Under the hood of the base GLC 300 is a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It has the same basic specs as before but now produces 255 horsepower, up 14 hp from last year. Maximum torque remains at 273 lb-ft. Previously, we thought Mercedes would be adding a 48-volt mild hybrid system that promised better fuel economy. Sadly, that partially electrified system will not be coming to the U.S. market. Nor will the diesel variant. A plug-in hybrid will arrive this summer, however, and the raucous high-performance AMG models will also return.
The Heart of the Story
The inclusion of Mercedes' new MBUX infotainment system is the more significant change for the 2020 GLC refresh. It's easily our favorite system in the automotive marketplace thanks to its quick responses, sharp-looking graphics and multiple control methods. The new steering wheel looks to be lifted directly from the stately S-Class sedan and features additional switches and trace pads. You can use these to control the MBUX system as well as the available virtual instrument panel. You can also control MBUX through the larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, a single large console-mounted trace pad, or by the GLC's accurate voice control system. This upgrade alone should be enough to persuade you to wait for the 2020 model rather than the current GLC. But wait, there's more!
A new low-level automated driving assistant blends the full speed range adaptive cruise control system, lane keeping assist and navigation data to alleviate some of the burden on the driver. These systems work in concert to slow the vehicle as it approaches a curve in the road and accelerate smoothly once the road straightens again. In these situations, the GLC moves just like a normal driver would.
Furthermore, the long list of existing advanced safety features — which were already quite good — have been upgraded to be more accurate and operationally nonintrusive. Rounding out the new interior features is an available wireless charging pad and ambient lighting.
The Tried and True Theme
The 2020 GLC 300 is easy to drive without being dull. There's an optimal mix of luxurious comfort and engaging performance to suit any driver's style. Even when you're driving at highway speeds, the four-cylinder engine provides pleasing acceleration and passing power. The standard adaptive suspension also allows the GLC to slice through curves with confidence.
It can overcome steep climbs and sharp descents with an ease that we're more accustomed to experiencing in Land Rover vehicles. Despite the confidence-inspiring handling on the road and off-road chops, the GLC is just as comfortable as ever, thanks to a smooth ride quality, well-shaped seats and a quiet cabin. Rear-seat passengers also enjoy the same spacious accommodations as before.
And They Lived Happily Ever After
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC is like a top-tier athlete that somehow keeps gathering medals year after year. It's proving that it won't be outdone by newer challengers such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 or Volvo XC60. At this point in the life cycle when others begin to show their age, the GLC remains at the top of its game.
We expect the updated 2020 GLC to be arriving at dealerships in late 2019 with a starting MSRP of $43,495.