EV Review: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e

 In Electric Cars

Introduction

The luxury SUV market is extremely hot for the 2018 model year. With hybrid and electric models becoming mainstream, carmakers like Mercedes-Benz have a massive market on which to capitalize. Competition is heating up with Acura, Lexus, Jaguar and widely-known Tesla all trying to claim the biggest piece of the pie.

Mercedes-Benz has more than one luxury SUV with which to compete. In the compact SUV segment, the GLC 350e can be found making a splash. It’s a fantastic blend of everything you expect from the best-selling luxury brand – stylish, feature-heavy, stable, and well-performing – with the added benefit of being extremely fuel efficient.

The question isn’t if Mercedes-Benz has a good product; it’s obvious that the 2018 GLC 350e is a worthy contender. Rather, the question is if the GLC 350e does enough to differentiate itself from other vehicles in its class. The Acura MX Sport Hybrid offers a very well-equipped experience for a similar price. The BMW X5 xDrive40e is more expensive but is a larger, more capable vehicle. The Tesla Model X carries a much higher price tag but is a fully electric SUV. Where does the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e fit in?

Exterior styling

Like all German-engineered Mercedes-Benz vehicles, the 2018 GLC 350e is impeccably good-looking. The silhouette is less boxy than most of its competitors, opting instead to take a less traditional SUV approach and instilling wagon-like cues. Its body design is bold with tasteful flashes of chrome and strong, muscular bulges in the front end and over the fenders.

In typical Mercedes fashion, wheels no less than 18 inches in diameter are standard. 19-inch AMG-style wheels are available in either the AMG Line or Night Package trims along with fancy trim accents. There’s no doubt about it: the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is a sharp-looking sport utility vehicle.

Fit and finish interior

For its price, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is a steal. No other vehicle offers the cabin quality and plethora of equipment that this SUV does. Standard equipment for the $50k model includes natural grain Brown Ash wood trim, diamond-stitched leather, Smart Key with Keyless Start, rain-sensing wipers, pre-entry climate control, a power liftgate, and a 7-inch color display with central controller.

Options are endless for the 2018 GLC 350e. They include a fantastic Head Up Display, an 8.5-inch touchscreen with COMAND touchpad controller, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, Nappa leather, Hands Free Access, Surround View Camera, and much, much more. That doesn’t even speak to the color palettes available.

But it’s not just about equipment. The heart of the issue is how it feels on the inside. Because everything looks perfect, or maybe meticulous is more accurate, it feels a touch clinical and sterile. There’s unreal sound insulation in the cabin including noise-insulating front glass. It might be just a touch overboard – a bit of outside noise could liven the in-vehicle experience.

When you start adding options and packages, the price quickly climbs above the base level. With a healthy assortment of popular picks, it’s easy for the price to reach $65,000 or higher. Nonetheless, the fit and finish you get in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is certainly up to the German standard.

Driving Experience

Some hybrid vehicles you dread to drive. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is not one of them. There’s mastery at play here because a hybrid vehicle shouldn’t feel this enjoyable to drive. It’s a complete experience, from suspension and handling to acceleration and the in-cabin experience.

Between the 85kW electric motor and the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, the GLC 350e makes a combined 320 horsepower and 431 lb.-ft. of torque! That’s certainly a number Mercedes-Benz should brag about. It takes just 6.2 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph. All the while, it’s incredibly efficient, although exact fuel efficiency specs aren’t available at this time.

As another plus, the GLC 350e comes standard with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It’s the time-tested permanent AWD system Mercedes-Benz installs in many of their vehicles and has split-second torque transfer to the wheels that need it. Even when road conditions are terrible, you probably won’t notice in this vehicle.

One very mentionable system is its hybrid system. The GLC 350e can operate on all-electric power for short trips, or it can be used with seamless integration with the gas engine. It incorporates regenerative braking to recharge the battery and its E-MODE ties in a haptic accelerator pedal to help you drive as efficiently as possible. It’s quite impressive, to say the least.

Features

MSRP $49,990 USD
Type PHEV
Electric Range 21 miles / 34 km
Total Range TBD miles / TBD km
Time to Charge 4 hours (Level 2)
Electric Motor 85 kW
Battery Capacity 8.8 kWh
Top Speed 130 mph / 210 km/h
Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles or 80,000 km

Conclusion

If you’re comparing the Mercedes-Benz to other models priced in the same range, it holds its ground firmly. The GLC 350e has ‘wow’ factors in a few areas including its powerful-yet-efficient powertrain. There aren’t many negatives aside from the high-priced add-ons and an almost too-perfect interior.

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e is ideal for higher middle-class families as well as business-class company vehicles. While its efficiency is definitely notable, it’s probably not the biggest factor for those deciding to purchase this type of SUV.

Top Competitors

  • 2018 Tesla Model X
  • 2018 BMW X5 xDrive40e
  • 2018 Lexus RX 400h
  • 2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid

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