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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Review

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC ranks in the top third of the luxury compact SUV class thanks in part to its sprightly engine performance, comfortable and high-end cabin, and wealth of standard features.

Pros & Cons

  • Potent engine lineup
  • Posh, comfortable interior
  • Surefooted handling
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Coupe models have cramped rear seats and cargo area
  • Higher starting price than many rivals

New for 2021

  • Hands-free park assist now standard
  • Plug-in-hybrid model discontinued

8.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 9.2
Performance: 8.1
Interior: 7.5
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.7 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Mercedes-Benz GLC a Good SUV?

Yes, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC is a good luxury compact SUV. The GLC has a sumptuous and quiet interior with comfy seats, room for five occupants, and a sizable cargo area. It feels agile and composed when driving on winding roads, yet it’s still relaxing on the daily commute. Multiple engine options are available, ranging from 255 to 503 horsepower, and all hustle the GLC up to speed swiftly. The GLC also has a user-friendly infotainment system, and it comes outfitted with many standard tech and safety features.

All in all, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is a well-rounded SUV. Most criticisms pertain to the GLC coupe variant, which has a low roofline that cuts into rear headroom, rear visibility, and cargo space.

Why You Can Trust Us: 28 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 28 Mercedes-Benz GLC reviews, as well as data points like reliability ratings and fuel economy estimates, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible.

This 2021 GLC review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2016.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLC?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC is definitely worth a look if you’re shopping for a small luxury SUV. The GLC packs a lot of refinement, technology, and performance into its compact proportions. That said, it’s not the only good SUV in this popular class. You may also want to consider top-rated rivals like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60, as well as the new Mercedes-Benz GLB.

Compare the GLC, Q5, and X3 »

2020 vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC: What's the Difference?

There are two main differences between the 2020 and 2021 GLC models. Mercedes-Benz adds hands-free park assist to the 2021 GLC’s list of standard features. This system was previously optional. Also, Mercedes discontinued the plug-in-hybrid GLC 350e model.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 GLC »

Here are the key changes for the Mercedes-Benz GLC over the last few years:

  • 2016: all-new SUV (replaced GLK)
  • 2017: coupe body style arrived and 362-horsepower GLC 43 variant debuted
  • 2018: gained available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; 469-horsepower GLC 63 and 503-horsepower GLC 63 S variants joined lineup
  • 2019: plug-in-hybrid GLC 350e debuted
  • 2020: refreshed exterior styling, updated infotainment system, and mild horsepower increase for GLC 300 and GLC 43 models
  • 2021: hands-free park assist now standard and GLC 350e discontinued

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 GLC, 2019 GLC, and 2020 GLC reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLC Cost?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC has a $43,200 starting price. That’s on the high end of the luxury compact SUV class. The price rises to $59,900 for the sporty AMG GLC 43 model, and it climbs to $73,900 for the high-performance AMG GLC 63 model.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Versus the Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLC vs. Mercedes-Benz GLB

The Mercedes-Benz GLB is an intriguing alternative to the GLC. The GLB is about the same size as the GLC, and it offers a similar infotainment system and many of the same active safety features. The GLB beats the GLC in terms of value, including a lower starting price by about $6,600. It also has a slightly roomier cargo area, and it’s optional with a third-row seat, making the GLB one of the few seven-seaters in the luxury compact SUV class. That said, the GLB’s cabin materials aren’t as nice as the GLC’s, and its engine performance is more sedate. It also doesn't offer any performance-oriented AMG variants. Test-drive both of these Mercedes-Benz SUVs to see which you prefer.

Compare the GLC and GLB »

Mercedes-Benz GLC vs. Mercedes-Benz GLE

The Mercedes-Benz GLE is a luxury midsize SUV, and it offers a few benefits over the GLC. The GLE has a roomier interior with seating for up to seven passengers. It has a much larger cargo area and heavier-duty towing ability. The GLE also offers more luxe amenities like a cabin air fragrance system and massaging seats. Both the GLC and GLE have a similarly potent engine lineup, as well as many of the same tech and safety features. Go with the GLE if you need the extra seating or cargo space. Otherwise, stick with the GLC. Its starting price is lower than the GLE’s by about $11,500.

Compare the GLC and GLE »

Compare the GLC, GLB, and GLE »

GLC Interior: Cocoon of Luxury

GLC Cargo Space

The Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV has 19.4 cubic feet of cargo space with its rear seats upright and 56.5 cubic feet with those seats folded. That’s about average for a luxury compact SUV. On the other hand, the GLC coupe variant sacrifices a bit of space for its sleeker roofline. It has 17.6 cubic feet of space with its rear seats up and 49.4 cubic feet with the seats folded.

How Many People Does the GLC Seat?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC is offered in SUV and coupe body styles. Both have five seats and four doors. The SUV model’s front seats are supportive and well-cushioned, and it’s easy to find a comfy driving position. There’s ample headroom and legroom up front for taller occupants, and outward visibility is good to the front, sides, and rear. The back seats are similarly plush, and there’s adequate space for two adults or three kids to sit comfortably, at least for shorter trips.

The GLC coupe’s front seats offer a comparable level of space and comfort, but the sloping roofline severely cuts into rear headroom and impinges rear visibility. Shorter adults may be able to fit in back, but this space is best reserved for smaller passengers.

Synthetic leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard. Available upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and AMG front sport seats with larger side bolsters.

GLC and Child Car Seats

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and a tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The tether anchors are easy to find, but it may be difficult to maneuver around the lower anchors.

GLC Interior Quality

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has one of the nicest interiors in an already fancy segment. The styling is elegant, and most of the cabin materials have a high-quality look and feel. The interior muffles road and wind noise, resulting in a very quiet ride at highway speeds.

GLC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is equipped with the brand’s latest infotainment system – dubbed MBUX – which features a 10.2-inch touch screen perched high on the dashboard. This touch screen has crisp graphics, relatively simple menus, and responds promptly to inputs. There are also a few other ways to manage its functions, including climate control buttons on the dashboard, a voice recognition system, a touchpad on the center console, and touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel.

There’s a bit of an initial learning curve, and the touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons can be distracting at first, but otherwise the system is intuitive and enjoyable to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, allowing users to integrate their smartphone interface on-screen.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 10.2-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, and a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster
  • Available infotainment features: navigation, satellite radio, a Burmester sound system, and wireless device charging
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and a power liftgate
  • Other available features: tri-zone automatic climate control and a panoramic sunroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

GLC Performance: Muscle Bound

GLC Engine

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 comes standard with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The brand’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available. This engine supplies more than enough punch for everyday driving. Acceleration is brisk around town – zero to 60 mph takes six seconds – and there’s plenty of power for climbing hills and passing other vehicles on the highway. The transmission shifts smoothly for the most part, though it’s occasionally slow to downshift.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 ups the performance ante a bit. It features a 385-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. Throttle response is snappier, the V6 snorts and snarls aggressively through its exhaust, and acceleration is quick. The GLC 43 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and 63 S models are astonishingly fast. The GLC 63 has a 469-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The GLC 63 S follows the same formula, but its engine is tweaked to produce 503 horsepower. Both models can keep pace with even the most exotic sports cars. The V8 growls menacingly with every dip of the throttle, and accelerating from zero to 60 mph takes just 3.8 seconds. Merging or passing on the highway is a near-instantaneous affair.

GLC Gas Mileage

The Mercedes-Benz GLC’s fuel economy ranges from above average to among the worst. The GLC 300 gets an EPA-rated 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway (21/28 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive). The GLC 43 yields a fair 18/24 mpg rating, while the GLC 63 and 63 S models net just 16/22 mpg.

GLC Ride and Handling

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has refined driving dynamics. The GLC feels stable and composed through turns, its steering is quick and lightly weighted, and the brakes provide good stopping power. It’s an easy SUV to park and maneuver as well.

Ride quality can be hit or miss. The GLC 300 comes standard with 18-inch wheels and tires with relatively tall sidewalls, and this setup does a fine job of soaking up bumps and dips in the road. The GLC 43 and GLC 63 have 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires and, despite the addition of an air suspension, these models tend to jitter and jolt more on rough road surfaces. The ride isn’t uncomfortable per se, but it is firm.

GLC Towing Capacity

The Mercedes-Benz GLC can tow up to 3,500 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about performance »

GLC Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLC Reliable?

The 2021 GLC has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the GLC with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GLC Safety

GLC Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC five out of five stars in the side crash test, as well as four stars in the rollover test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not tested the 2021 GLC. However, the organization gave the very similar 2020 GLC excellent ratings across the board.

GLC Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Hands-free park assist
  • Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring

Available advanced safety features:

  • Surround-view parking camera system
  • Head-up display
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning with lane keep assist
  • Adaptive headlights with automatic high beams

Read more about safety »

GLC Dimensions and Weight

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is 15.6 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,889 to 4,548 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2021 GLC in Germany, Finland, and India.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLC Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC comes in two body styles – SUV and coupe – as well as four trim levels: GLC 300, GLC 43, GLC 63, and GLC 63 S. The main difference between these trims is found under the hood. The GLC 300 has a peppy turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the GLC 43 has a racier twin-turbo V6, and GLC 63 models have monstrous twin-turbo V8s.

We think the GLC 300 SUV is the best bet for most shoppers. It has the lowest starting price and plenty of power for everyday driving, as well as a long list of standard and available features. It also offers a bit more cargo space than the coupe model.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

The base model GLC 300 SUV starts at $43,200, and it’s outfitted with a 255-horsepower engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. The GLC 300 4Matic variant adds all-wheel drive, and it costs $45,200 for SUV models and $51,650 for coupe models.

Standard features include a 10.2-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, keyless entry, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, MB-Tex synthetic leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seats, LED headlights, and 18-inch wheels. The GLC also comes standard with parking sensors, hands-free parallel park assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and driver drowsiness monitoring.

Options include a navigation system, satellite radio, wireless device charging, a Burmester sound system, a panoramic sunroof, tri-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a surround-view parking camera system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, a skid plate, off-road traction control modes, 19- and 20-inch wheels, and a Class II tow hitch receiver.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 43

The midrange GLC 43 starts at $59,900 for SUV models and $64,900 for coupe models. This trim has a 385-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive as standard, and it adds an adaptive air suspension, 20-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, an AMG exhaust, front sport seats with larger side bolsters, and satellite radio. All options carry over unchanged.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and GLC 63 S

The high-performance GLC 63 starts at $73,900 for SUV models and $76,900 for coupe models. This trim features a 469-horsepower engine, a limited-slip differential, navigation, a Burmester stereo, and a surround-view parking camera system. Most options carry over unchanged.

The GLC 63 S costs $84,500, and it’s offered only as a coupe. This variant boasts a 503-horsepower engine but otherwise shares its standard features with the GLC 63 models.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes deals page.

See 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC doesn’t wallop the luxury compact SUV competition in any single area, but it does represent an appealing and well-rounded option in a segment full of all-stars. The GLC impresses with its muscular engine lineup, buttoned-down handling, posh interior, comfy seats, and wealth of advanced tech and safety features.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Buyers seeking luxury, sophistication, refinement, and technology are well served by all the major players, but the 2021 GLC-Class seems to have an extra something special about it. This is evident in the cabin materials, ride quality, build and standard equipment, plus the many and varied options. The 2021 GLC-Class does everything right that it needs to and gets nothing wrong, carrying out its duties without apparent effort." -- Autotrader
  • "The tweaks for 2020 don't much alter the GLC's formula, but it nonetheless is one that makes the GLC 300 a compelling choice among its peers, owing to its luxurious interior, sensible packaging (for the SUV model), well-tuned chassis, and agreeable tech, all bundled in a stylish wrapper." -- Autoblog (2020)
  • "With fresh styling and a new engine, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class hopes to fend off assaults from newer small-luxury-crossover SUVs like the BMW X3, Jaguar I-Pace and Lincoln Corsair. With the C-Class sedan platform as its starting point, the GLC-Class has a bit more refinement than some competitors, and its luxury offerings are second to none. The ride is firm, but not jarring, and the handling more than satisfactory for most buyers in the segment." -- Kelley Blue Book (2020)
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