Seven years ago Mercedes unveiled their GLK sport utility vehicle, and, although it was a fine competitor in the upscale SUV battle, there were always a few things that seemed to hold it back. Now the folks from Germany have stepped up to the challenge, and replaced the GLK with the GLC.
And while some manufacturers are content to sneak in a name change without making substantial alterations, that’s not the case here. Mercedes has crafted a replacement for their compact luxury SUV that’s larger – but yet lighter – than its predecessor, has been redesigned inside and out, and delivers bette fuel efficiency.
Plus – and I have to add this – it just looks a lot better.
Your choice is between the GLC300 and its sibling, the GLC300 4Matic. If you’re a resident of Colorado like I am, you’ll wanna opt for the latter; the all-wheel-drive version doesn’t cost you in mileage, which is rare. Both will kick out an average of about 24 mpg.
To get the gear-head specs out of the way, this vehicle is not a beast off the starting line, but the 241-horsepower engine makes the most of its 9-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is smooth and satisfying, which means the decision to downsize from a V6 in the old GLK to the turbo-charged 4-cylinder didn’t hurt at all.
But slip behind the wheel in this luxury SUV to appreciate the adjective. Supple, enveloping seats create the usual Mercedes comfort zone. Plus the designers once again made some noticeable changes that immediately stand out.
The center console, with its one-piece craftsmanship, is very eye-appealing. It works well, too, with an interface that can be learned quickly. The touchpad is a little distracting, however, but that’s become true with almost all luxury vehicles that want to show off their tech side.
The exception to this otherwise-terrific display is the awkward stacking of the touchpad above the screen’s rotary control. To begin with, it looks a bit odd. But, on top of that, I found myself constantly adjusting my hand position, trying to work out the best way to operate it all. It’s not a horrible design, but could’ve been thought out a little better. (And if that’s the only complaint, you’re looking at a pretty good car.)
One thing that made me chuckle was the collection of controls on the driver’s door. I had to include a photo, because I don’t think you can add much more to a door.
Your passengers will thank Mercedes for boosting the rear leg room. And the cargo space has been goosed a bit, too, although it’s still a bit shy of that offered by some competitors, namely Audi and BMW.
The GLC has a decent stable of standard features, such as 18-inch wheels, keyless start, split-folding rear seats, ambient lighting, and a power liftgate. When you begin adding options, prepare yourself for a significant bump in price. My test model began at just under $41k, but the various option packages jumped that total to more than $58,000.
Having said that, I loved several of those options, especially the panorama roof. Listen, once you experience that, you’ll want it every time. Additionally, the Surround View camera will spoil you, providing ultimate confidence every time you put it in reverse.
It’s almost silly to review the drive of a Mercedes. Suffice to say the shift from the GLK to the GLC did nothing to diminish the smooth, quiet, powerful ride. The 300 4Matic is a treat to drive.
If you’re in the market for a family-friendly SUV in the compact luxury segment, give the GLC a look and a test drive. You’ll be thrilled.