Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV Review
We wouldn't blame you if you're mostly interested in the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class for its classy styling, elegant interior and desirable three-pointed star badge. It has all that, but you'll be pleased to know it's also surprisingly practical, impeccably built, very safe and great to drive. Read more about why we think it's a class leader.
The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class was one of the first compact crossover luxury SUVs to hit the market. It boasted strong performance and sophisticated ride and handling capabilities. But not everybody loved its blocky exterior design, elevated wind noise at highway speeds and lack of cabin space. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, its all-new successor, promises to make up for these shortcomings and then some.
The new 2016 GLC is more smoothly styled than the old GLK.
The GLC name helps assimilate this model into Mercedes-Benz' SUV line by following the new alphanumeric convention. The "GL" part identifies it as an SUV; the "C" tells us it lines up in terms of size and market position with the C-Class sedan, with which it also shares 70 percent of its parts. A secondary benefit is to provide more separation between this all-new SUV and its smaller, heavier and boxier predecessor.
The standard engine that motivates the GLC300 and GLC300 4Matic is the same turbocharged four-cylinder found in the C300. It replaces the GLK's naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6, dramatically improving fuel efficiency. It's not as powerful as the old V6, though, and for now it's the only choice. Mercedes says it plans to introduce a fuel-efficient four-cylinder diesel engine by the end of 2016, a 320-horsepower hybrid powertrain soon after, and an AMG performance model as well.
Elsewhere, you'll find traits typical of the C-Class and other recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz models. The interior is elegant, solidly built and also quieter than the GLK's. There are features galore to further customize your GLC, with safety systems, in particular, being quite comprehensive. The GLC is also the only SUV in its class to offer an adjustable air suspension (Air Body Control in Mercedes parlance) that can alter both firmness and ride height to suit driving conditions and intentions. When it comes to versatility, though, the GLC still comes up a little short, offering less than 60 cubic feet of total cargo space.
As far as segment competitors go, the usual targets are still pretty obvious. The Audi Q5 is a beautiful but aging model with standard all-wheel drive, but with a ride quality that may be on the overly firm side for some buyers. The BMW X3 has a far more spartan interior design than the Mercedes, but it does give you more room and additional engine options (at least for now). If you balk at the GLC's price, the Acura RDX and Lexus NX 200t are two great alternatives. There's also the Volvo XC60 if you need something more family-friendly. But overall the GLC-Class is a solid improvement over the old GLK and is right in the mix among the segment's best.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC is a compact luxury crossover SUV that seats five and is currently offered in two trims: GLC300 and GLC300 4Matic.
The GLC300 and GLC300 4Matic come standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lamps, adaptive suspension damping (not driver selectable or electronically controlled), a power liftgate, power-folding mirrors and automatic wipers.
Interior standard features include adjustable drive settings, a 10-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), synthetic leather upholstery (MB-Tex), driver memory settings, 40/20/40-split power-folding rear seats, a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, the Mercedes' COMAND interface (7-inch infotainment display, touchpad, knob controller), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, mbrace Connect (includes smartphone app integration) and an eight-speaker sound system (including two hidden subwoofers) with a CD player, HD radio, two USB ports and a media player interface.
The optional Sport package adds sporty body styling, 19-inch wheels and cross-drilled brakes with painted calipers. The Night package includes the Sport package equipment, but with gloss black exterior accents and black wheels. The Lighting package adds adaptive full-LED headlights and automatic high-beam headlight control.
The Interior package adds many creature comforts that make the GLC feel like it fits in a class with more prestige.
Inside, the Air Balance package includes a cabin fragrance and air purification system. Going with the Interior package gets you illuminated front door sills, ventilated front seats, a 10-way power front passenger seat (with four-way lumbar), leather upholstery, an MB-Tex-wrapped dash, multicolor LED ambient lighting and cargo area storage accessories. The Premium package features blind-spot warning and assist, satellite radio, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats and a 115-volt power outlet. Select the Multimedia package and the infotainment screen grows to 8.4 inches and is joined by a navigation system, voice controls and an SD card reader.
For better parking convenience, there's the Advanced Parking Assist package, with hands-free liftgate access, front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system and a top-down 360-degree parking camera system.
Stand-alone options for the GLC include the Air Body Control adaptive pneumatic suspension (automatic lowering feature included), 19- or 20-inch wheels, a Class III trailer hitch, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, adaptive cruise control, a 14-speaker Burmester premium sound system, an in-car WiFi hotspot, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, rear side window shades and "designo" premium leather upholstery.
performance & mpg
The rear-wheel-drive GLC300 and all-wheel-drive GLC300 4Matic are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It generates 241 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. Along with standard engine stop-start technology, a new nine-speed automatic transmission comes standard.
The EPA says you can expect to get 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) from the GLC300. The 4Matic also rates at 24 mpg combined (but with 21 mpg city). These numbers are quite good for the compact luxury crossover segment.
In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive GLC300 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds. That's a few ticks slower than the old GLK 350, but still one of the quickest sprint times in this class with a base engine.
Safety features that are standard on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class include antilock brakes (with automatic brake drying), traction and stability control, trailer sway control and crosswind assist, a forward collision warning system, a forward collision intervention system with automatic braking, PreSafe (which identifies an imminent crash and automatically takes measures to secure the cabin and occupants), a driver inattention warning system, front-seat side airbags, a driver knee airbag and side curtain airbags. The mbrace Secure telematics system includes automatic collision notification, emergency assistance, agent-assisted remote unlock and stolen vehicle location assist.
Optional with the Driver Assistance package are blind-spot warning (and automatic intervention), lane departure warning, lane departure intervention and enhanced forward collision intervention with pedestrian detection and forward cross-traffic collision detection and intervention.
In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive GLC300 with 20-inch wheels and summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet. This stopping distance is average for a small luxury crossover with large wheels and summer tires.
At speed, the GLC feels rock steady. The cabin's more aerodynamic shape allows the GLC to slip through the air more easily, reducing both wind noise and fuel-sapping drag. The GLC's brakes are also excellent, delivering virtually fade-free stopping power even under aggressive use.
As pretty as it looks, the GLC300 4Matic also sports some pretty decent off-road chops.
For normal driving, the GLC300 is impressively smooth, quiet and comfortable. You can also change its demeanor using the adjustable drive modes, which adjust parameters for steering feel, gas pedal and transmission responsiveness, and suspension tuning (if equipped with the optional air suspension). In its most aggressive settings, the GLC300 behaves more like a sport sedan than an SUV. Body roll is largely minimized, and the tires provide surprising levels of grip around corners. Even with the larger wheels and summer tires afforded by the Sport package, the GLC300 is exceptionally comfortable, and we expect the ride to be even more sublime when optioned with the air suspension.
Fully optioned out, the GLC's cabin feels like genuine luxury, raising the bar for interior opulence for this competitive class. The cabin switchgear is solid, with many of the controls fashioned out of metal, and the new one-piece center console panel flowing beautifully from the infotainment screen to the softly padded armrests.
We're big fans of the 360-degree Surround View camera system. Though these systems are becoming much more commonplace, the one in the GLC offers exceptionally good camera and screen resolution. Whether or not you get the navigation system and larger 8.4-inch screen, the COMAND touchpad rotary control interface is standard, and serves up one of the more user-friendly experiences available (though its immense number of functions can make it overwhelming to use at first). Less agreeable is the physical layout of the controller, as the touchpad portion overlaps much of the wheel, forcing your hand in awkward positions during operation.
The 2016 GLC-Class' COMAND touch pad rotary interface is easily one of the best in the industry.
Specify the Interior package and you gain rich hand-stitched leather upholstery, power ventilated seats, a soft-touch textile-covered dash and elegant multicolor LED ambient lighting. None of these are cabin necessities, but they help provide an environment that's immensely easy to spend time in.
The GLC is bigger in nearly every interior dimension than the model it replaces, and the difference is noticeable. The most dramatic gains are made in rear legroom and front elbow room, with an increase of 2.2 inches apiece. More precious inches were gained across the board, freeing up enough space to easily accommodate 6-feet-tall rear passengers. And although Mercedes still hasn't released many of its official U.S. interior volumes, cargo capacity behind the rear seats sits at just over 20 cubic feet, an increase of approximately 4 cubic feet, with total cargo room (rear seats folded) at 56.5 cubic feet. This falls short of the cargo volume of both the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, though it is likely a trade-off for the GLC's extra rear passenger space.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.