Behind the Wheel

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Review: Robust power, disappointing technology dominate the SUV's refresh

The GLC is a family hauler that provides sufficient space for four adults on a short road trip.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Vehicles are all about the user experience. Whether it's how comfortable the seats are, how easy the infotainment system is to use, or how obtrusive the safety technology is, automakers are attempting to tick every box in every vehicle, within their (and the customer's) budget constraints.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC goes a long way in checking boxes for the average buyer. The model won't be winning awards for cutting edge design anytime soon, but there's nothing wrong with that. Its exterior design is pleasant enough, especially with the minimalist grille on the GLC 300.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC The minimalist grille on the GLC really enhances its appearance.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

As tested, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that achieves 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Its get up and go is good enough for daily driving and acceleration off the line is inspired. Still, this version of the GLC just isn't that exciting.

Front-wheel drive is standard in the model and all-wheel drive is available. Mercedes has updated the SUV's handling for the 2020 model year and it delivers with an engaging ride in a car that stays planted in daily driving situations without many complaints.

However, the steering wheel's control (not steering wheel controls – those operate as expected) leaves a lot to be desired. The wheel passes along every uneven bit of tarmac to the driver's hands consistently requiring a firm grip on the wheel. However, steering is sharp so adjustments can only be slight without causing major deviation from the route.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC This SUV has its shifter and other controls on the column in the same places the automaker keeps similar equipment in other vehicles.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has outfitted the GLC 300 in premium materials that are befitting its $50,000 price tag. As is expected, the Germans have given the model excellent fit and finish.

What wasn't expected is the GLC's numerous, very noticeable mediocrities. Let's start with small item storage. Don't expect much and you'll still be disappointed. Owners will have to make do with the center console and little else.

The car's wireless charging pad is located under the center stack and behind the cupholders. Its slim space means that while phones fit, getting a hand in there to get the phone is a pain, especially when the cupholders are full. Also, the in-cabin lighting system illuminates the screen of any phone charging in a way that is distracting while driving, especially in the dark. This is clearly a case of "where to stick it" rather than thoughtfully planned design execution.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC The car features a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

In the center of the dashboard sits a standard 10.25-inch touchscreen. The picture is sharp and the system's response to touch is quick. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.

Gone is the rotary dial in the center of the console that controlled the infotainment screen and worked so well. There instead is a touch pad that, while operationally functional, is not nearly the gem of a solution to navigating the infotainment system that the dial was. Its functionality allows swiping and pushing to select while offering a proper amount of feedback.

Still, to scroll through your favorite channels, you either have to swipe by each one individually or go to the screen that lists a few and swipe up or down to find what you want. If the user wishes to change the channel by swiping through to see more previews, then there's more unnecessary scrolling. Even scrolling between favorites takes too much attention leaving eyes off the road for too long.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC The touch pad seems to be the answer to a question no one was asking.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Want to skip the scrolling and just input the station you're looking for? While that's a slightly easier scenario thanks to the ability to use a finger as a stylus and write the number of the channel, the system has a heck of a time trying to differentiate between zeroes and the letter "o".

The touch pad is sensitive, which is both good and bad. Its location makes it possible to frequently change the channel just by brushing up against the pad. Reaching for a phone in the wireless charging tray almost always resulted in a brush against the pad during the test week.

Simply put, this touch pad is the answer to a question no one was asking.

The GLC comes standard with a long list of safety and driver assistance technology. While most work as advertised and expected, there are two big missteps that were evident after a week of testing.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC The cockpit of the GLC is set up nicely and allows for the driver to easily reach all the controls.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes technology reads both speed limit and minimum speed limit signs the same. It's easy to be driving along at a clip, say 75 mph, pass a minimum 40 mph speed limit sign on the road, and have the technology slow the car from 75 to near 40 mph in a jiffy, no matter how close the car behind you is to your tailgate, night or day. A driver has to stomp on the gas to override the action. That is unacceptable.

While there are numerous algorithms for lane centering technology, getting a car to stay in the middle of a lane is something a handful of automakers do well. In the GLC, the technology allows for a ping pong effect where the SUV mildly dances from one line to the other in an effort to stay centered. Driving on the highway at speed, with the technology activated, is maddening at best.

That all being said, the mechanics of the GLC are mostly great, albeit not that exciting. The new infotainment and safety technology could stand a thorough once over by someone not invested in reinventing the wheel.

For $50,000, buyers are better off going elsewhere to check out the BMW X3 or X4, Volvo XC40, Porsche Macan, or Acura RDX. Each executes its features list better than the GLC.

Trending News

 
 

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 comes to a dealership near you later this quarter.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 is the V8-powered Wrangler y'all have been asking for. Now we know how much 470 horsepower under the hood will cost you - $73,500 - and that's before taxes, fees, and any dealership markup.

With typical Wrangler Rubicon looks on the outside, the Rubicon 392's big selling point is its engine. The 6.4-liter V8 can get from zero to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Jeep is equipping the Rubicon 392 with a 21.5-gallon fuel tank to help with the thirsty engine's range. To save on fuel, the Rubicon 392 uses cylinder deactivation to switch into four-cylinder mode when the V8 isn't needed.

2021 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

1 / 10

The noise out back is courtesy of a two-mode performance exhaust. A functional air scoop feeds the engine and keeps it cool.

All that power requires a stronger frame than the typical Wrangler has. It gets upgraded frame rails, improved cast-iron steering knuckles, and beefier front upper control arms. Stopping power comes from the SUV's larger-than-usual brakes - the Rubicon 392 has 14-inch rotors instead of the Rubicon's typical 13.4-inchers. A 2.0-inch lift is standard.

Jeep has given the model an Off-Road Plus button that lets you lock the rear of the Wrangler Rubicon 392 while it's in four-wheel drive high gear. This functionality will prove especially helpful to desert trekking enthusiasts who get slippery sand under the tires but have to keep up their forward motion so they don't sink and get stuck.

It's also Moab-ready. The Wrangler Rubicon 392 doesn't have the Rock-Trac transfer case that's in the typical Rubicon, but it makes up for it with the availability of low-end torque courtesy of the new V8. Add in the standard Select-Trac transfer case, locking rear differentials, and front sway bar disconnect and adventuring on rocks just became more manageable.

The entire rig rides on 33-inch BF Goodrich KO2 tires that sit at all four corners one 17-inch beadlock-capable tires.

Jeep has given the SUV 11 features that are normally options on Wrangler, nine color choices for buyers to pick from, and bronze colored accents. At the center of the dashboard is an n8.4-inch infotainment screen that allows Jeep Off-Road Pages to be viewed.

Mopar will offer factory-based accessories with the model.

The new Jeep is expected to arrive at dealerships in the first quarter of this year.

Trending News

 
 

The Land Rover Defender has gotten a beefier engine option for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The new generation of the Land Rover Defender came to U.S. shores last year with a heaping helping of anticipation from buyers. With initial orders fulfilled, the company is upping the ante to bring an improved and more powerful Defender to North America for the 2022 model year.

The additions will mean that both the 2022 Land Rover Defender 90 and 2022 Land Rover Defender 110 will have nine grades available for purchase. The Defender 90 and Defender 90 S are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 296 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

2022 Land Rover Defender The Land Rover Defender has a long history of V8 engines.Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Moving up to the Defender 90 X-Dynamic S, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, or X will get you a 395-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-liter mild-hybrid six-cylinder engine that achieves 406 pound-feet of torque. The new supercharged 5.0-liter V8 gets 518 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque in the V8 and V8 Carpathian Edition models.

The same engines are available in the larger Defender 110 and have the same power. The Defender 110 and S trim levels have the turbo-four. SE, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE, XS Edition, and X have the mild-hybrid under the hood. The V8 and V8 Carpathian Edition have the V8.

Land Rover has also upgraded the SUV's Pivi Pro infotainment system. It's now available in a 11.4-inch screen option that features curved glass and with new operating system touch screen optimization to make interacting with the screen easier. Wireless device charging is now standard.

2022 Land Rover V8

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

1 / 31

The new V8 engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can get the Defender 90 from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and has a top speed of 149 mph. Opting for the V8 gets buyers the new Dynamic drive mode within the SUV's Terrain Response system. Models equipped with the power plant also get anti-roll bars and a unique electronic active rear differential with yaw controller. V8-powered Defenders also get their own induction and exhaust systems that are designed to enhance the vehicle's soundtrack.

Each of the V8 models is available with a Carpathian Grey, Yulong White, or Santorini Black paint job. The grey and white-colored models have a contrasting Narvik Black roof.

The interior of the vehicles features seats trimmed in Ebony Windsor Leather with Mike Suedecloth and Robustec accents. The cross car beam has a satin black finish and the steering wheel is finished with an Alcantata rim. Leather is wrapped around the airbag housing and gear selector. V8-scripted treadplates complete the look.

2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition

2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition 110

The 2022 Land Rover Defender XS Edition replaces the Launch Edition in the company's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

The new Defender XS Edition replaces the First Edition for the new model year. It has body-colored lower cladding, lower wheel arches, and 20-inch Satin Grey contrast diamond-turned alloy wheels. Buyers can choose their model with either a Silicon Silver, Hakuba Silver, Gonwana Stone, or Santorini Black paint job.

XS Edition models also get 12-way heated and cooled seats finished in Ebony Grained leather and Robust Woven Textile. The cross car beam features a light grey powder coat while leather extends throughout the cabin and illuminated metal treadpates compete the look.

Buyers also get a stand electronic air suspension, Terrain Response drive modes, tri-zone climate control, cabin air ionization, adaptive cruise control, rearview mirror, and a 10-speaker Meridian sound system.

2022 Land Rover Defender V8 Carpathian Edition

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

1 / 5

​The flagship Defender V8 Carpathian Edition is unique not just because of some badging and extra supple leather. It also has a bespoke chassis settings designed to deliver new levels of engagement and agility on- and off-road.

The model is only available in Carpathian Grey with a Narvik Black roof, hood, and tailgate. It wears bespoke badges, has Satin Black tow eyes, and is adorned with Carpathian Gloss front and rear skid pans, front grille bar, and Xenon Blue brake calipers.

The interior of this model is the same as the traditional V8 offering.

Land Rover is also offering a number of new packages to enhance the model. The Bright, Extended Bright, and Extended Black Packs feature unique exterior design touches. A Defender with the Bright Pack wears Noble Chrome front and rear skid pans, and a Noble Chrome grille and badging. The Extended Bright Pack adds Ceres Silver to the lower body cladding and wheel arches. A gloss black finish on those components comes as part of the Extended Black Pack.

Prinvg for the 2022 Defender 90 and 110 will be announced at a later date.

Trending News