2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class First Drive Review by Digital Trends

Words Thomas Philips | October 14, 2019
Mercedes new GLC crossover is a great update to its most popular model
Words Thomas Philips October 14, 2019

Something important happened at Mercedes-Benz in 2018. For the first time ever, the GLC-Class SUV surpassed the venerable C-Class sedan in sales, becoming the best-selling Mercedes in America. The world is officially upside down. The GLC now accounts for 22% of Mercedes sold in the United States. The rest of the Mercedes SUV lineup makes up another 22% of sales, emphasizing that all these crossovers are critical to Mercedes’ bottom line. That makes the redesigned 2020 GLC-Class the most important new vehicle that Mercedes has launched in years. The larger GLE and GLS have already been refreshed, and the all-new GLB is coming shortly to complete the team.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Interior

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Interior

The new GLC will be available in five different configurations. There’s the base GLC 300 in square-backed SUV body or a fastback four-door coupe configuration, and then the AMG GLC 63 in the same body styles. Finally, there’s a top-trim GLC 63 S coupe, which recently claimed the title of “Fastest SUV in the World” with a blistering 7:49.369 lap of the Nordschleife.

The salient points of the new GLC are simple: Mercedes luxury, performance, and advanced tech. Wisely, Mercedes kept the entry price of the base model within reach of aspiring premium SUV buyers, while providing a trim walk that provides easy access to both style and features. By making the GLC attractive and achievable, Mercedes plans to keep the momentum going.

Hey Mercedes, can you give us a break?

The biggest feature change in the 2020 GLC line is the addition of the Mercedes-Benz User eXperience (MBUX) infotainment system as standard equipment. This technological marvel has been exhaustively described before, and already appears in both the GLE and GLS platforms.

You can control the entire MBUX system and all the vehicle parameters three ways: through the wide 10.25-inch touchscreen on the dash, through the touchpad on the console, or by voice. The only thing to note for the GLC is that the “Hey Mercedes” voice-controlled digital assistant feature is still far too easily triggered. If anyone in the vehicle says “Mercedes,” the system pauses music and navigation to ask what you want.

Still, that’s a small price to pay for the benefits of the system. You can ask the GLC for virtually anything you want, from a different radio station to climate controls and MBUX will handle it for you. If you sprung for the optional Augmented Video navigation, the system has a great feature. When you’re approaching a turn, the center display switches from the map to a camera view of the road ahead with floating labels for side streets and big floating arrows that show you where you should be going. Augmented reality is now in your new Mercedes.

The latest DISTRONIC driver assistance

Another big deal in the new GLC is the latest generation of Mercedes’ DISTRONIC advanced driver assistance services. Active distance assistance helps keep the GLC at a safe following distance, even when traffic is inconsistent in speed. The system also brakes automatically for stopped vehicles ahead and manages stop-and-go traffic jams for you.

Active steering assistance will gently help you steer the GLC if you want that. But honestly, the new GLC drives so well you’re likely to want to keep that pleasure for yourself. More than a kinda-sorta autonomous-like feature, the system will also help you change lanes safely, and it will bring the GLC to a stop if you’re unresponsive.

Along with many other driver assistance features, one more to call out is the Active Speed Limit Assist. This feature works with the adaptive cruise control to keep you at the posted speed limit. If you’ve ever blown into a small town while enjoying a brisk drive, only to find yourself on the wrong side of the local cops, you’ll appreciate this feature.

A few new exterior design cues

All of the new GLC models have some new design cues to ogle. Base GLC 300 models now have a trapezoidal grille with a horizontal bar and Mercedes-Benz tri-pointed star, while the AMG performance models get an entirely different face with a rounded grille of vertical bars.