2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e Plug-in Hybrid

Style

The entire GLC lineup, including the plug-in hybrid, gets a design refresh for 2020. The couple-like GLC has a stylish tapered front-end accented with two bold horizontal grille slats. A large three-star logo sits in the middle. The visual energy is carried through the long hood and over the roofline before quickly dropping over the short tail. The GLC350 has a charming yet practical style.

The interior is decorated with matte-metallic finishes and natural woods. Whether outfitted with synthetic upholstery or the $2,500 upgrade to leather and power front seats, the cabin is loaded with luxury. Of course, each add-on feature—such as topstitching, ventilated and heated seats, heated steering wheel, and LED-illuminated door sills—carries a few hundred dollars in cost. But the result is a gorgeous package.

Performance

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz plug-in systems feature a 208-horsepower, two-liter, four-cylinder engine utilizing a nine-speed automatic transmission. The capable electric motor adds 121 ponies for total system output to 315 horsepower. In typical EV fashion, the immediate torque is the real story, and the GLC350e packs a punch at 516 pound-feet. That’s good enough for zero-to-sixty acceleration at 5.6 seconds.

These superlatives make for a fun, sporty little SUV that’s also refined and quiet. Some reviewers say it’s too refined—with steering that feels slightly numb and handling designed for comfort over driving engagement.

Driving modes allow you to stay in pure electric mode (while there’s energy in the battery and traveling below 84 miles per hour). Or use driver-selected modes to save battery power, charge up the pack from the engine, or have the computer decide the best efficiency and power in Hybrid mode. The drivetrain’s responsiveness can also be modulated with Sport +, Sport, Comfort, and Eco settings.

One of the GLC350e’s innovative features is its haptic accelerator pedal. It works like an advanced, high-tech kickdown. Step too far on the accelerator pedal—and it will push back with mild taps on your foot. You get more resistance as you step further, effectively guiding you to use a softer foot on the go-pedal. Push through the resistance to bring on the gas engine for more power.

Another piece of whizbang technology utilizes the forward-looking radar to detect when a car is in front of you. When the vehicle upfront is detected, instead of deploying the friction brakes, the GLC350e slows down using brake regeneration. That’s a smart way to automatically save energy otherwise wasted with traditional braking.

Efficiency & Range

The EPA rating for the GLC350e is a remarkable 56 miles per gallon equivalent. That’s when operating on a combination of electric and gas power, including the use of 13.5 kilowatt-hours of grid-supplied energy. With a steady foot, you might manage nearly 20 miles without using a drop of dino-juice in the 2020 model.

After the battery is depleted, the GLC350e returns an efficiency of 25 miles per gallon—one mpg better than the non-plug version.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e Plug-in Hybrid

Charging

Use a standard 120-volt, three-prong outlet to fully charge the GLC plug-in hybrid from empty to full in about five hours. Or plug into a 240-volt supply to top up the battery in less than two hours.

The 2020 version of the GLC 350e upgrades the charging rate via 240-volts—from 3.6 kilowatts to 7.4 kW. In plain English, that means you are charging twice as fast, giving you a chance to do a two-hour recharge throughout the day.

Passenger & Cargo Room

The GLC is a spacious five-passenger SUV. Seating is relatively high to provide an excellent view of the road. The seats are comfortable, although three adults will be snug in the back row.

To make room for batteries, the GLC350e’s capacity behind the second row drops to about 14 cubic feet. For minor hauling tasks, you can fold down those back-row seats to access 51 cubic feet of cargo space.

The 2020 GLC350e upgrades the infotainment to Mercedes’s much-improved MBUX system. You not only get a more intuitive touchscreen, but there’s voice recognition. Commands start Siry-style with “Hey, Mercedes.”

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e Plug-in Hybrid

Safety

The GLC350e gets top ratings for safety. NHTSA gave it a perfect five-star score in every category, except for rollovers for which it earned four out of five stars. IIHS ratings were similarly at the highest level, except for ease-of-use with installing child restraints.

There’s a long list of standard safety features including active brake assist, adaptive braking technology, Electronic stability program (ESP), and a four-wheel electronic traction system.

The $2,250 Driver Assistance Package adds active distance assist, steering assist, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping, and speed-limit assist.

Price

Pricing for the 2020 model has not yet been announced. It should resemble the sticker for the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e, which starts at $51,645, including a $995 destination charge. The list of upgrades for styling, audio, and driver-assist, can easily elevate the price by $10,000 to $15,000.

Buy the basic version with only one or two upgrades—and then apply a $4,460 federal plug-intax credit—to bring home the plug-in GLC for less than $50,000.

The new and improved 2020 GLC350e goes on sale in the U.S. in the first half of the year.

Mercedes-Benz GLC350e specifications

Availability: Now
Base MSRP: $51600
Est. tax credit: $4400
Technology: Plug-in Hybrid
Body type: SUV
Seats: 5
EPA Range: 15 miles electric + gasoline
Battery size: 13 kWh
Charging rate: 7.4 kW

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