Mercedes GLB vs GLC

The Mercedes GLC has been the German automaker’s best-selling model in the US for quite some time now, but the relatively new Mercedes GLB SUV is also proving to be a hit among new buyers.

Slotted in between the Mercedes GLA and GLC, the GLB is essentially a boxier version of the subcompact GLA with some interesting twists. Despite technically belonging to the GLA’s subcompact size class, it almost matches the compact GLC, size-wise.

As a result, it can be difficult choosing between the GLB and GLC. Let’s take a closer look at the details and see exactly how they compare across different aspects.

Quick Summary

The subcompact Mercedes GLB is the GLA’s space-focused counterpart, which is available as a 7-seater and offers plenty of room for cargo. The compact Mercedes GLC is your more typical 5-seater SUV and is a step up in luxury and performance, but offers less value for money from a practicality perspective.

Mercedes GLB front 3/4 view
GLB
Mercedes GLC front view
GLC

Pricing

From a pricing perspective, the subcompact Mercedes GLB has an early advantage over the GLC. Coming in at $38,050, and the upgraded all-wheel drive GLB 4MATIC costing only $40,050, the GLB is easier on your back pocket. The base model comes with a 2.0L inline-4 Turbo engine, with an Automatic 8 speed, dual clutch transmission.

The compact Mercedes GLC, the larger of the two, has a slightly higher sticker price. The base model starts at $43,200. Similar to its compact counterpart, you can upgrade to the GLC 4MATIC for an additional $2,000. For the price of the base model GLC, you’ll get a 2.0L inline-4 Turbo engine with a 9G Tronic, 9 speed automatic transmission.

The GLC is also offered as the GLC coupe, which features a more athletic body that trades practicality for style. This version starts at $51,650, making it the most expensive option available to buyers.

Mercedes GLB side view
GLB
Mercedes GLC side view
GLC

Styling

Being a subcompact SUV with interior dimensions more akin to a larger compact SUV, the Mercedes GLB ends up with a boxy appearance. Not Japanese Kei car boxy – but far from sleek.

Nonetheless, the GLB’s appearance has its own charm that will appeal to many. In some ways it looks like a smaller counterpart to the GLS.

By comparison, the Mercedes GLC has more streamlined curves and is more consistent with the rest of the GL SUV lineup. Of course, the GLC coupe takes those curves a step further with a sporty sloping roofline that makes it easily distinguishable.

Mercedes GLB rear view
GLB
Mercedes GLC rear view
GLC

Interior

The Mercedes GLB sports the same interior as the entry-level GLA SUV. When optioned with leather seats and natural wood grain trim, it looks and feels worthy of the Mercedes name.

However, the Mercedes GLC’s interior is a cut above the GLA and GLB interiors. With a broader center console and more attention being paid to the finer details, the interior of the GLC oozes class.

Mercedes GLB interior
GLB
Mercedes GLC interior
GLC

Even though the GLB interior feels less premium, it’s worth noting that it is more recent and thus features the twin-display interface. This is essentially a wide single panel which integrates two screens, the digital instruments on the left behind the wheel and the touchscreen infotainment on the right.

In fact, the outgoing GLC is one of the few Mercedes models left with the traditional instrument cluster and separate infotainment screen. Those with a penchant for shiny things will need to wait for the 2022 overhaul.

Performance

Whilst both the Mercedes GLB and the GLC have the same size engine (2.0L inline-4 turbo), when it comes to output the numbers don’t match up in the same way.

The GLB’s engine is identical to that of the GLA, providing a respectable 221 horsepower and 258lb-ft of torque. But because it’s a significantly heavier vehicle than the GLA, the engine doesn’t feel quite as powerful as we’d like. (Of course, opting for the performance-tuned AMG GLB 35 is another story, but let’s stick to the standard configurations for this comparison.)

Mercedes AMG GLC
The Mercedes-AMG GLB and GLC (shown) offer improved performance over their standard counterparts

Consequently, power is where the compact GLC SUV has obvious gains over the GLB. The GLC produces 255 horsepower and 273lb-ft of torque, giving it more towing power and the upper hand when it comes to acceleration. The GLC can do 0-60 mph in 6.1 seconds, nearly a full second faster than the GLA’s 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds.

The GLC also takes the lead in handling. The 9 speed transmission not only gives the driver more control but also more options and flexibility to drive the car to your tastes.

Practicality/Interior Space

Mercedes-Benz pulled off a remarkable feat with the GLB – a subcompact SUV capable of seating 7 and able to carry as much cargo as a compact SUV.

Between the GLB and GLC, the GLB not only offers more leg room for all passengers but also provides more storage space. The Mercedes GLC is wider, though, so passengers have more hip and shoulder room and will generally feel more comfortable overall than they would in the GLB.

Mercedes GLB third row seating
The GLB can be had with a third row of seats

Comparing trunks, the GLC offers a maximum 56.5 cubic ft of space when the rear row of seats are folded down. The GLB edges it slightly here with a maximum 62 cubic ft of cargo volume.

Both are excellent daily drivers, offering space and comfort to both the driver and passengers. However, from a bang for your buck perspective in terms of practicality, the Mercedes GLB is the clear winner.

Mercedes GLC trunk with seats folded down
Cargo space in the back of the GLC with the rear seats folded down

Technology and Features

When it comes to tech and features, the GLB and GLC come with a large amount of impressive features as standard.

This includes Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), voice control and the ‘Hey Mercedes’ activation phrase. You’ll also get a touch pad controller for the car (allowing passengers to adjust their comfort without hassling the driver), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and touch controls on the steering wheel.

Mercedes MBUX display panel
The GLB gets the more modern MBUX dashboard-spanning twin display panel

The only thing setting these two vehicles apart from a tech perspective are the displays. As already mentioned, the GLB features a more modern 2-in-1 panel that houses both the driver’s digital instrument cluster and infotainment. However, as standard you get a smaller 7-inch touchscreen infotainment. You’ll need to pay extra for a more acceptable 10.5-inch display, whereas the GLC gives you that as standard.

Fuel Economy

The difference in the fuel economy of the two models is marginal, which isn’t surprising given the similar size of two vehicles.

The GLB will get you 23mpg in the city and 31mpg on the highway on a 15.9 gallon tank.

By comparison, the larger compact GLC is slightly more hungry for gas, with a larger 17.4 gallon tank that gets you 22mpg in the city and 29mpg on the highway.

Safety

Given the recent release date of both of these vehicles, both the GLB and GLC are yet to receive safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). They do however both feature a wide range of modern safety features with many extras available.

Autonomous emergency braking, as well as lane keep assist (LKA) with lane departure warning (LDW) and blind spot monitor (BSM) are standard equipment in both vehicles.

Key Rivals

The GLC’s key rivals are other luxury compact SUVs, such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Lexus NX.

Available as a 7-seater, the GLB is quite unique as far as luxury subcompact SUVs go. There are no equivalent models from other manufacturers on the market right now.

Verdict

It’s easy to see why Mercedes introduced the GLB to the GL SUV lineup back in 2019. More and more consumers are in the market for a smaller SUV which has room for 7 and lots of room for cargo. The Mercedes GLB accomplishes exactly that.

The GLC, on the other hand, is your classic SUV that isn’t so focused on practicality. It costs more, feels a little more luxurious and performs slightly better.

If space and pricing are big concerns, the GLB comes out ahead. But those with little use for the extra space will be better off with the GLC, and if price is a concern, the GLA – which is what the GLB is based off of. You can read our GLA vs GLB comparison to learn about how the two models differ.