2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e review: Premium plug-in hybrid feels like an efficiency half-step

    Let’s not bury the lede right here: Benz’s compact plug-in hybrid SUV, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e 4Matic EQ Power, wouldn’t be my first selection in its small class.The 2019 GLC’s COMAND cabin know-how is complicated, inconsistent and outdated even inside Benz’s personal lineup. During my week of testing, I would even be upset by the 350e’s EQ Power plug-in hybrid powertrain which looks like an effectivity half-step that does not add a lot to the SUV’s general attraction past additional value and complexity.

    True, the compact GLC platform has actually good bones — it is comfy, quiet and feels properly luxurious — however the particulars really feel simply dated sufficient to value the GLC350e my advice over the robust competitors. The GLC350e provides Benz’s EQ Power plug-in hybrid system to the model’s luxurious little SUV.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    EQ Power plug-in hybridThe GLC360e’s plug-in hybrid powertrain combines a 2.0-liter, turbocharged gasoline engine with an 85-kilowatt electrical motor. Together, they produce a really respectable 315 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque, 26 extra ponies and a whopping 140 extra pound-feet than the usual GLC300.

    Power for the electrical motor is supplied by a 8.7-kWh lithium-ion battery mounted beneath the rear hatch ground, which has been raised barely to accommodate the large pack. GLC350e drivers lose about 5 cubic toes of cargo capability behind the rear seats, however acquire an EPA-estimated 10 miles of absolutely electrical vary when the battery is absolutely charged. Charging takes about 2.5 hours at a Level 2 charging station; plugging right into a family 110-volt outlet takes somewhat greater than twice as lengthy. The GLC350e’s charging port is hidden on the passenger nook of rear bumper, which is a bizarre and precarious location. It looks as if the port might be simply broken in a minor rear-end collision, making repairs for easy fender-benders dearer than mandatory.The battery charging port on the bumper might be broken in a minor collision, making restore prices dearer.
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    Between that powerplant and the usual 4Matic all-wheel drive system, a single-option seven-speed automated transmission handles gear adjustments. That’s two fewer ahead gears than the nonhybrid’s 9G-Tronic transmission, a change required to deal with all of that additional torque. With a lot torquey electrical help, the gearbox’s tendency to brief shift and its hesitation to downshift wasn’t an excessive amount of of a hindrance. Overall, the GLC350e accelerates far more easily and confidently than the nonhybrid. It’s additionally extra quiet general, each when cruising and when idling, which makes the PHEV really feel only a tad extra luxurious below most circumstances.Though the smoothness was welcome in most conditions, the gearbox’s gradual shifting was the reason for a very annoying hiccup when parallel parking. If I utilized the throttle too rapidly after shifting, the SUV would hesitate after which lurch because it slid into gear. Giving it a “one Mississippi” or two earlier than getting on the fuel was smoother, but it surely’s much less handy to have to attend for gradual gear adjustments when making an attempt to slide rapidly into an area. I detected an analogous hesitation off-the-line when accelerating rapidly from a cease, however much less jerky or noticeable.Disappointing financial systemBeyond the preliminary absolutely electrical vary at 56 miles per gallon equal, the SUV’s financial system drops to 25 mixed mpg throughout hybrid working mode, solely 1 greater than nonhybrid’s 24 mpg. Of course, the extra typically you plug in, the upper your common effectivity can be, however with solely 10 miles per cost to work with, you may both be plugging in typically or not seeing a lot (if any) financial system benefit. The GLC350e has a number of methods up its sleeve to assist it optimize effectivity. A function referred to as Eco Pedal provides power suggestions to the fuel pedal to assist prepare the driving force to speed up extra easily and effectively. Stomp the fuel too arduous and you will really feel a slight tap-tap in your foot via the pedal. Similar faucets might be felt in case your velocity is just too excessive otherwise you’re following too carefully. This is just like the eco-pedal function that I’ve examined in varied Infiniti automobiles, solely with out the power to push again towards the driving force’s foot. I discover the Benz’s suggestions to be a lot much less annoying, but it surely will also be disabled within the car’s menu.Beyond the preliminary 10 miles of EV vary, the GLC350e is not far more environment friendly than the nonhybrid GLC300.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    The adaptive cruise management system, in that case geared up, can even use its forward-looking radar to affect the hybrid’s regenerative braking system, partaking the regen quite than the brakes because the SUV approaches slower transferring site visitors. The navigation system can even have an effect on the conduct of the regenerative braking and transmission shift applications to optimize efficiency for hills and upcoming bends within the highway.Even with these applied sciences bolstering the plug-in hybrid system, nonetheless, I solely averaged 25.2 mpg throughout my testing, which admittedly included some sporty driving and lots of freeway miles. More city miles and extra frequent charging might have helped my weeklong common, however I do not see the GLC getting wherever close to 40 to 50 mpg with out recharging at each ends of my 25-mile commute into the workplace.COMAND throwbackOne of the biggest annoyances within the GLC’s cabin is the outdated dashboard tech. The customary step up is a 7-inch model of Mercedes-Benz’s previous COMAND infotainment, however my instance featured a $2,200 improve to the bigger 8.4-inch system with navigation. Either manner you go, COMAND is previous information even inside Mercedes’ personal line up. (It’s value noting the GLC will get an up to date COMAND interface for the 2020 mannequin 12 months.)

    COMAND looks like decade-old software program that has been patched, up to date and massaged into the trendy age. As a consequence, the interface feels cobbled collectively. Clicking from one space to a different typically leads to a very totally different appear and feel. For instance, when deciding on a radio band, FM, AM and satellite tv for pc radio seem in a drop-down menu that pops out of the underside bar of the interface. But when deciding on a digital media supply, you are taken to a very separate display screen with high-resolution icons outlining the alternatives. I used to be consistently having to readjust to how I interacted with COMAND on the highway, so it by no means turned second nature.You work together with COMAND through a redundant mixture of a touchpad and management knob on the middle console. They each do precisely the identical factor, just one is twisted and the opposite swiped and tapped. That would not be so dangerous, however this redundant management system nonetheless manages to depart out or obfuscate some quite simple controls. For instance, merely skipping to the subsequent tune in a playlist requires tapping the skip button on the COMAND touchpad after which swiping to acknowledge the skip. Why there is not any easy skip ahead and again buttons on the steering wheel or dashboard — like each different automotive on the highway — is past me.Over the years, Benz has continued to replace COMAND with new options, however the result’s an interface that feels patched collectively and complicated.
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    In its favor, Mercedes’ fixed upgrading of COMAND has left it with a reasonably trendy function set. There’s navigation with site visitors information that routes well, first rate voice command with pure language enter, a full complement of digital media sources and even a number of app integrations together with related options. Plus, I like that COMAND does not lock out tackle inputs when the car is transferring, permitting my passenger to assist enter search phrases and addresses whereas rolling utilizing COMAND’s ambidextrous controller.Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration are additionally out there, although they’re an extra $350 improve that was not included on my GLC350e take a look at automotive.Whose lane is it anyway?My GLC350e was geared up with a $2,250 driver’s-aid suite that provides a wholesome dose of contemporary security tech to the growing older GLC’s bag of methods.There’s adaptive cruise management that works at freeway speeds and in stop-and-go site visitors to robotically preserve a set distance behind a lead car. This system’s forward-looking radar additionally components into precollision and automated emergency braking programs in addition to the aforementioned radar-based regenerative braking operate. The Driver Assistance package deal additionally rolls in an lively blind-spot monitoring system that may add steering help to stop merging into one other car and what looks like two totally different lane-keeping help applied sciences.The compact SUV options lane departure prevention and lane protecting help, however is unclear about which system is lively at any time.
    Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow
    Under most circumstances, the GLC operated in lane departure prevention mode. When the cameras detected that the SUV was drifting over a lane marker with out signaling, the brakes reverse the offending facet would barely have interaction to tug the GLC again in line. I am not an enormous fan of brake intervention for lane protecting, as it could really feel jerky and jarring. When the circumstances have been good, nonetheless — clear lane markers, excessive sufficient velocity and a easy, comparatively straight freeway — the GLC may also have interaction its lively lane-keeping help system, which makes use of electrical steering help to maintain the SUV centered in its lane, serving to to stop departures within the first place. What I discovered most annoying was that the GLC does not do an excellent job speaking what stage of lane-keeping help is lively and why. I used to be typically confused when the steering help would simply deactivate, leaving me with simply the annoying brake-departure help.My GLC’s customary rear digital camera was upgraded with an non-obligatory $1,250 Parktronic Assist package deal. This provides proximity sensors to the entrance and rear of the SUV and a surround-view digital camera system, which assist in squeezing the SUV into parking spots with out dinging the bumpers. This package deal additionally contains Benz’s lively parking help, a semiautomatic parallel parking system that may steer the SUV right into a roadside spot whereas the driving force retains management of the accelerator and equipment adjustments.How I would spec itThe 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e 4Matic EQ Power begins at $51,645, together with a $995 vacation spot cost. My instance was loaded up with $16,500 value of choices — together with about $5,110 value of aesthetic and styling upgrades, $3,750 for COMAND and Burmester premium audio, $4,340 in driver’s-aid know-how upgrades and $3,300 value of consolation upgrades like air suspension, heated seats and steering wheel in addition to dual-pane glass — bringing the as-tested worth to a eyebrow-raising $68,145.Still within the GLC? I would advocate skipping this hybrid and ready for the up to date 2020 mannequin later this 12 months.
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    How would I spec my 2019 GLC350e? Honestly, I would not, except you will get a very whole lot. The plug-in hybrid is sort of $8,000 greater than a comparably geared up nonhybrid, however is not far more environment friendly except you cost it regularly. Electrified car tax incentives can considerably soften the premium worth blow, however I’d nonetheless advocate Volvo’s XC60 T8 as a substitute plug-in hybrid SUV. The Swede presents higher driver assist and security tech, extra electrical vary and financial system, and a more recent and extra trendy really feel. It’s additionally a hair dearer beginning at $55,300 for the plug-in mannequin, however I really feel it is value the additional dough.Mercedes-Benz followers nonetheless bought on the GLC ought to most likely follow the nonhybrid model and, even then, watch for the newly introduced 2020 fashions — which change the outdated COMAND infotainment know-how with the newer and a lot better MBUX system — to hit dealerships earlier than pulling the set off.

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