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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 SUV Test Drive: All the Hot-Hauler You Need

Hey Mercedes, what’s the best low-profile compact SUV? GLC me.

Ed TahaneyWriter, Photographer

LOS ANGELES—Don't let its basic form and low-profile stance fool you—the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 is a sweet little hauler that can seat a family of five, and it's fun to drive, too. Since the softer, more rounded GLC replaced the boxy GLK in 2016, it has quickly become a best-seller for the marque. For 2020, the GLC-Class received minor styling tweaks, an updated grille, standard LED headlights, and a 10.3-inch touchscreen for its comfortably conservative cabin.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Performance

Under the hood, the base model packs a revamped 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder that's good for 244 horsepower (up 14 horses from 2019) and 273 lb-ft of torque. If you need more power in the GLC, you're looking at the GLC 43 and GLC 63 variants with twin-turbo 6- and 8-cylinder engines. The AMGs also sport toothier grilles and snappy quad-tipped exhaust systems that crackle and pop in Sport and Sport Plus modes.

For example, the GLC 43's 3.0-liter V-6 ups the power to 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque and the GLC 63's 4.0-liter V-8 produces a  substantial 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, there is also an AMG 63 S variant that can bump V-8 power all the way up to 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

Surprisingly, I find the 2.0-liter engine in the GLC 300 more enjoyable as a daily driver than the more aggressively tuned AMG tuned models. It's an SUV, after all, so while the power of the AMGs can be fun, it's not necessary, and the smaller engine gets better EPA gas mileage, at 22/29 mpg city/highway. I averaged about 24 mpg combined despite driving enthusiastically—while hauling several hundred pounds of shale.

The GLC 300's inline four-cylinder is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission, but our tester did not include the 4Matic all-wheel-drive option that comes standard on the hybrid and the AMG models. Still, the turbo four-cylinder with two-wheel drive offers plenty of satisfying fun for an SUV: The steering is responsive, and its paddle shifters make it easy to tap into the power when you really need it. The steering feels precise in sport mode, and the GLC 300 delivers a sporty ride—especially when it is not fully loaded with passengers and gear.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 As-Tested Options

Optional goodies for our tester included sporty 20-inch twin 5-spoke wheels ($1,250), illuminated three-pointed star ($500), LED logo projectors ($200), 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster ($750), and a Burmester Sound System ($850) that booms—it's worth the upgrade.

Additionally, it features the DA5 Multimedia Package ($1,250) for navigation and speed limit assist, as well as the DP1 Premium Package ($500) that adds 64-color ambient lighting, illuminated door sills, and Keyless Go. Sadly, this did not include a sunroof, despite the final $49,070 price tag for this test vehicle.

The base version of the GLC 300 starts at $43,495, but you should expect to pay $50,000 or more for a well-optioned or fully-loaded version.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Interior

Inside, the cabin is comfortable, with lots of space, easy-to-reach controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and ample chrome and wood trim. There's even a pen holder in the glovebox.

The latest MBUX interface is included, and the infotainment system works with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The touchscreen is easy to navigate and even works with driving gloves on. Standard safety tech includes blind spot assist, active brake assist, attention assist, rear door child safety locks, and more.

There's 19.4 cu ft of space in the trunk area or 56.5 cubes if you fold the rear seats down. The rear seats fold down flat with a push of a button (located in the rear hatch area).

Overall, the GLC 300 is a great choice if you are in the market for a small SUV, although it may not be the best value buy in this competitive segment. If you enjoy a little wind in your hair, don't forget to splurge on an epic Panorama roof option ($1,500)—you won't regret it.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Pros

  • Feisty engine and decent gas mileage
  • Top notch design and build
  • Fun daily driver

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Cons

  • Pricier than the competition
  • Busy ride
  • Needs a sunroof

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Alternatives

2020 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $43,495/$49,070 (base/as-tested)
ENGINE 2.0L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4/255 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 273 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 22/29 mpg
L x W x H 183.3 x 74.4 x 65.5 in
WHEELBASE 113.1 in
WEIGHT 3,893 lb
0-60 MPH 6.0 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph