The GLC replaces the GLK-class, the rename coming as part of Benz’s latest nomenclature strategy and intended to align it with the mechanically similar C-class sedan. As did the GLK, the GLC battles the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC, and Porsche Macan, among others.
A new crossover gets us nearly as excited as the prospect of binge-watching C-SPAN. Or maybe binge-watching people who are binge-watching C-SPAN. Yet such vehicles are wildly popular, and so every automaker offers at least as many variations on the theme as there are variations of, well, C-SPAN.
The optional AIRMATIC suspension, which was fitted to every GLC we drove, offers good body control, and its various modes are clearly delineated in terms of road feel. But as in the C-class, the Sport+ program can be too firm. The steering provides a confident sense of straight-ahead, and effort builds predictably when you turn the wheel. It is necessity numb, but no one shopping a GLC will care. The structure is as rigid as rebar we had a chance to briefly off-road the GLC—including rocking over deep ditches with diagonally opposite wheels in the air—and heard not one squeak or rattle. Applying Mercedes’ current design aesthetic to the crossover shape preserves much of what we like about the look the soft radii and tension-building creases while avoiding the drooping rear end common to the sedans, and the GLC gives off a sophisticated, expensive vibe.
The designers lobbied to fit the GLC with large-diameter wheel-and-tire packages, and so 18-inch wheels are standard, and both 19s and gorgeous, AMG-labeled 20-inch multi-spoke jobs are available. Beyond that, the usual raft of luxury, convenience, and safety gadgets can be added, including but not limited to heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a larger central screen, a head-up display, Burmester audio, radar cruise control, brake assist, rear-end collision prevention, active lane-keep assist, navigation, and adaptive LED headlamps.
The GLC is not as polarizing as the GLK, and it is a huge advance in terms of desirability and both real and perceived quality. We might not be excited, but luxury crossover buyers should be.