2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Review

Few, perhaps none, in this class are as well-rounded as the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.
8.4 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

We expect a lot from small crossover SUVs. This class, one of the commanding forces in the automotive industry, is chock full of vehicles that offer an elevated view, plenty of passenger room, and superior cargo capacity to their sedan and hatchback counterparts. In the luxury category, expectations are even higher because crossovers also have to be exceptionally smooth, quiet and powerful. Yet even measured against these standards, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class manages to stand out. It's that good.

Much of the GLC's superiority comes from its expertly crafted cabin. Every detail, from the metal speaker covers to the leatherette-trimmed dash and open-pore wood trim, seems to have been obsessed over. The interior feels justifiably more expensive than even those of most other luxury crossovers.

The attention to detail carries over when you move from the standard GLC 300 to one of the high-performance AMG models. Not only do you get throaty V6 and V8 engines that rocket the GLC away from a stoplight, you also get upgrades such as a sport-tuned air suspension, bigger brakes, and summer tires to make the most of the extra power. And we haven't even touched on the GLC's roomy cabin, which will fit four tall adults with ease. Pound for pound, this is one of the best small luxury crossovers on the market.

Notably, we picked the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class as one of Edmunds' Best Luxury SUVs for this year.



What's new for 2018

Two new models join the GLC-Class lineup: the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid and the performance-oriented AMG GLC 63. Heated wipers are now standard, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can now be added with the Smartphone Integration package. Mercedes has also renamed some packages to better convey the features added.

We recommend

The two AMG models come standard with additional features, and their power can be intoxicating. But we think most buyers will still be quite happy with the more affordable GLC 300. It's suitably quick, and every non-performance upgrade available for the more potent GLCs is available for it, from luxurious leather upholstery to advanced driver aids.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is a small luxury crossover SUV with seating for five. It's offered in four trim levels. Most buyers will select the four-cylinder GLC 300 since it's the most affordable and can be ordered with a wide range of luxury and safety enhancements. There's also the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid (late availability) that pairs the four-cylinder with an electric motor. Performance enthusiasts will enjoy the AMG GLC 43's turbocharged V6, while the AMG GLC 63 (also late availability) turns up the wick even more with a turbocharged V8. 

Note that though the GLC 300 comes with standard rear-wheel drive and offers all-wheel drive (called 4Matic) as an option, the rest of the lineup comes with all-wheel drive. The GLC 350e uses a seven-speed automatic transmission, and the other models use a nine-speed auto.

The base GLC 300 comes equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (241 horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque), 18-inch wheels, adaptive suspension damping (not driver selectable), a power liftgate, a rearview camera, power-folding mirrors (with auto-dimming on the driver side) and automatic wipers. Inside, you'll find dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power-adjustable steering wheel, adjustable drive settings, a power-adjustable driver seat with memory functions, 40/20/40-split power-folding rear seats, simulated leather upholstery (MB-Tex) and keyless ignition.

Tech features include a 7-inch infotainment display, Mbrace Connect (includes smartphone app integration), and an eight-speaker sound system with HD radio and two USB ports.

Select the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid and an electric motor and battery pack will be paired to the four-cylinder for a combined 315 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. Its EV-only range and standard equipment have not been made public, but the features and options should be similar to what's offered in the GLC 300.

The AMG GLC 43 is quite different from the above two trims. In addition to a potent turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 (362 hp, 384 lb-ft), the GLC 43 is further equipped with 20-inch wheels, a sport-tuned air suspension, a sport steering wheel, the contents of the GLC 300's Premium package (blind-spot monitoring, keyless ignition and entry, satellite radio and a 115-volt power outlet), simulated-suede seat inserts and heated front seats.

The most exciting trim is the AMG GLC 63. Besides its turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 (469 hp, 479 lb-ft), you also get upgraded brakes, LED headlights, a mechanical limited-slip differential, variable torque distribution for the all-wheel drive system, and a 14-speaker premium Burmester surround-sound system.

Some features on the upper trims can be ordered on lower trims, though most extras are grouped into packages that are available across the GLC lineup. Safety-minded buyers might consider the Driver Assistance package, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert, and forward collision warning and mitigation (with automatic braking). It also adds the contents of the Premium package to the GLC 300.

There's also the Advanced Parking Assist package. It includes a top-down parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system and a hands-free liftgate. For the ultimate night cruiser, check out the Advanced Lighting package, which adds adaptive LED headlights, automatic high-beam control, interior ambient lighting and illuminated door sills.

For the techies out there, a Multimedia package is offered, with a navigation system, touchpad controller and an 8.4-inch central display screen. There's also an option that bundles Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but note that it's incompatible with the Multimedia or Driver Assistance package.

Some of the features in the above packages can be ordered as stand-alone options. There are a number of separate items that buyers might also want to add. Styling upgrades include 21-inch wheels, the Night package (glossy black exterior elements) and the AMG Line (GLC 300 only, adds interior and exterior appearance modifications, a flat-bottom steering wheel and the GLC 43's upgraded brakes).

Luxury enhancements are also available, such as a cabin fragrance and air purification system, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, rear side-window shades, various trim accents and multiple premium leather upholsteries (paired with adjustable passenger thigh support and memory settings). A performance exhaust system is available exclusively for AMG models.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 9-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current GLC-Class has received some revisions, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which became available just this year. Our findings remain applicable to this year's GLC-Class, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall8.4 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration8.0 / 10
Braking8.0 / 10
Steering7.5 / 10
Handling8.0 / 10
Drivability9.0 / 10

Comfort

8.5 / 10

Seat comfort8.5 / 10
Ride comfort9.0 / 10
Noise & vibration9.0 / 10

Interior

8.5 / 10

Ease of use6.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out8.0 / 10
Roominess9.0 / 10
Visibility9.0 / 10
Quality9.5 / 10

Driving8.0

This is an easy and confidence-inspiring small SUV to drive. Though the impressively sharp GLC-Class offers more powerful engines, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder doesn't disappoint.

Acceleration8.0

The GLC-Class demonstrates authoritative passing power at highway speeds. That said, the GLC is not as quick from a stop as the Audi Q5 or a comparable BMW X3. In our testing, we measured a 6.7-second sprint from zero to 60 mph.

Braking8.0

Fitted with the optional summer tires and more powerful brakes, our test GLC 300 came to a stop from 60 mph in 116 feet, which is a little longer than expected. Pedal travel is long but easy to modulate around town.

Steering7.5

In Normal mode, the steering wheel is devoid of feel but surprisingly responsive. Putting it in Sport mode adds a welcome extra bit of effort that increases feedback and therefore confidence. Either way, effort is at least linear and consistent.

Handling8.0

The GLC is very impressive for an SUV. It stays reasonably flat through turns and doesn't feel very tall or large. It's easy to drive a fast clip down a twisty road. The GLC is not a Porsche Macan, but it's much more capable than expected.

Drivability9.0

The adaptive cruise system controls the gas and brakes well, both on the highway and in traffic (it can bring the GLC down to a full stop). The nine-speed auto is far smoother than other transmissions with the same gear count. On the downside, the engine stop-start system is obtrusive at startup.

Comfort8.5

Even when equipped with big wheels, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is impressively comfortable. Lesser-equipped versions, or those with the optional Air Body Control suspension, should be even better.

Seat comfort8.5

Mercedes' typically firm seats result in supreme long-distance comfort. Three consecutive days with five-hour-plus drives yielded nary an ache or pain. Optional front-seat thigh adjustment increases comfort further. The seats bolsters keep you in place when cornering.

Ride comfort9.0

Twenty-inch wheels add some impact harshness, but even with them, the ride is well damped and in the realm of comfortable. Smaller wheels (and the optional air suspension) should produce a plush, nicely controlled ride. Excellent.

Noise & vibration9.0

The GLC 300 is impressively hushed in just about every situation. Even when you mat the gas pedal, the four-cylinder engine does not sound not overly strained.

Climate control

There are three orbital vents in the center console (with controls directly below), and a vent on each end of the dash is a classic design with classic function. Rear passengers get two vents. On full blast, the cabin will be heated or cooled within a short stoplight wait.

Interior8.5

The COMAND tech interface has a steep learning curve but offers many features and adjustable settings. Otherwise, the GLC is one of the more sensible, family-friendly compact SUVs. Backseat leg- and headroom are particularly impressive.

Ease of use6.5

The physical COMAND tech interface is confusing. A redundant knob and touchpad allow you to choose your control method (good), but the awkward overlapping means they physically get in each other's way.

Getting in/getting out8.0

The GLC is not quite as high as many other SUVs, so it's more a matter of stepping into the cabin rather stepping up. The rear door opening is a bit narrow, but a square roof and pillar combo makes for relatively easy access.

Roominess9.0

There's an impressive amount of rear legroom for a compact SUV, even with a tall driver up front. It's quite comparable to the bigger GLE, in fact. Headroom in the front and rear is similarly generous. The GLC should prove to be quite family-friendly.

Visibility9.0

The roof pillars are thick, but there's good visibility all around (especially forward) with no egregious blind spots. A rearview camera is standard, with additional parking aids available. Accident avoidance tech is class-leading in both functionality and availability across all trims.

Quality9.5

The GLC is not as stoutly constructed as an S-Class, but it's not far off either. The materials are beautiful (switchgear, wood trim, stitched leather-like dash and metal speakers and air vents). Even the seats' premium vinyl upholstery is almost indistinguishable from leather. A segment leader.

Utility8.5

The GLC's cargo area is wide (good for golf clubs) and its roof line more squared (good for boxes). The rear seats fold at the touch of a button, and the front seats motor forward if needed. Small-item storage up front is OK.

Technology

The GLC isn't a tour de force of Benz's latest tech — the E-Class is more advanced all around — but it's no slouch. From its 8.4-inch touchscreen, high-quality sound system and a host of driver safety systems, the GLC packs almost all you need.

Audio & navigation

The premium Burmester surround-sound audio system is exceptional and a bargain for the price. Standard navigation is also top-shelf and beamed to an 8.4-inch display. The menu structure is easy to move through and convenient to operate with the dial controller.

Smartphone integration

Smartphones integrate via Bluetooth or a USB port. You can stream or play music through the Mercedes-Benz audio interface, but the integration isn't quite as good as Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Both are offered for 2018 but are incompatible with many of the available safety and tech features.

Driver aids

Mercedes' adaptive cruise control is world-class. It keeps close to the car ahead but maintains a safe following distance, and it doesn't panic-brake when a vehicle jumps in front. Combined with lane keeping and steering assist, it delivers beautiful semiautonomous driving in highway gridlock.

Voice control

Voice commands work handily to access navigation and music commands, even when connected via Bluetooth. Music commands are fulfilled especially quickly and fluidly.

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.