words and photos by TOM STRONGMAN
The GLC 300 is an excellent example of why crossover utility vehicles continue to gain popularity, because it drives like a taller, slightly longer version of the C 300 sedan. But when you need to carry things such as a bicycle, bags of mulch, or DIY materials for a weekend project, flipping down the back seat creates plenty of room. A power liftgate is standard.
Redesigned in 2015 as the replacement for the GLK, the GLC 300 has a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four- cylinder that pumps out a lively 241 horsepower. That might seem to be a pretty small engine for a vehicle of this size but the GLC 300 is 176 pounds lighter than the GLK, due to the use of aluminum for the hood, front fenders, and roof panel. Aluminum is also used for the front and rear suspension and rear-axle subframe.
The strength of the engine is its ability to deliver maximum torque from 1,300 rpm to 4,000 rpm. High torque at low rpm makes the engine drive as if it were much larger. Throttle response is crisp right from a stop. The 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission plays a role in making the vehicle feel energetic because there is a gear for every speed and situation. It also contributes to a fuel economy rating of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
Five selectable drive modes — Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual — let the driver tailor the vehicle to personal preference. Each mode is as its name implies: Eco gives the best fuel economy, although at a slight drop in performance; Comfort is the default setting and good for everyday use; Sport livens things up a bit, with sharper throttle response and tighter suspension settings; Sport Plus is slightly more aggressive; and Individual mode lets the driver mix and match settings according to personal taste, such as choosing the comfort suspension with the Sport Plus engine tuning.
Prices begin at $39,150 for rear-wheel drive and $41,150 for all-wheel drive. The test vehicle was equipped with numerous options, such as a panoramic sunroof, metallic red paint, head-up display, heated steering wheel, 19-inch AMG wheels, Burmester surround sound system, and heated front and rear seats. The Premium package included keyless ignition, blind- spot assist, navigation, illuminated doorsills, and Sirius XM radio. The Sport package includes AMG body styling and AMG perforated front brake discs. The sticker price was $53,875.
While the GLC 300 is available in rear-wheel or all-wheel- drive 4MATIC configuration, most buyers in our climate will want the 4MATIC version. This system delivers optimum traction in a wide variety of conditions, from rain and snow to sand and mud. Because the system has a slight bias toward the rear wheels, dry-road handling feels neutral.
Befitting its C 300 heritage, the GLC 300’s cabin is cozy and plush. The Cardinal Red test car had a black interior with wood-grain trim on the instrument panel and console. A large, sweeping panel connects the dashboard to the center console and armrest. The front seats have proper support in all the right places and the test vehicle was equipped with the optional heated seats, front and rear, as well as a heated steering wheel.
A seven-inch color LCD screen sits in the center of the dash like a tablet computer. It is not a touch-screen because Mercedes-Benz feels operating a touch- screen can be distracting. A mouse-like touchpad and a rotary knob on the center console control various navigation, audio, and the vehicle’s settings. The touchpad permits letters, numbers, and special characters to be entered in handwriting. Voice commands can also be used. Fingertip controls on the steering wheel control the trip computer, audio, and hands-free phone use. The navigation system has five years of traffic and weather services provided by SiriusXM.
Head-up Display (HUD) projects important information directly in the driver’s field of vision on the windshield, thus helping to reduce the driver’s need to avert attention from the road ahead. The system provides information on speed and navigation instructions.
Advances in semi-autonomous technology continue to play an increasingly important role in automotive design and the GLC has the following safety features:
Attention Assist learns a driver’s habits and then sends an alert if it feels the driver is getting drowsy or not paying attention.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus sends an audible warning if it senses the driver is closing on a vehicle too quickly. At speeds up to 31 mph, the vehicle will apply the brakes to avoid a stationary object.
Pre-Safe tightens seatbelts, closes windows, and closes the sunroof if it senses a collision is imminent. Brake Assist applies maximum braking force in an emergency.
The blind-spot monitor is a light in the side mirrors.
Electronic vehicle stability assist with trailer stabilization.
Available options include an adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, a 360-degree camera with a bird’s-eye view, and Pre-Safe Plus that can sense a rear impact and activates the rear hazard lights at increasing frequency and initiates preventive braking.
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