2020 Ford Explorer vs. 2019 Mercedes GLC

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the Explorer and GLC have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The Explorer has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GLC’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Explorer has standard Post Collision Braking, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The GLC doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Explorer ST/Platinum has standard Reverse Brake Assist that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The GLC doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the Explorer 4WD’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The GLC doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

To help make backing safer, the Explorer’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The GLC doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Explorer and the GLC have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Explorer 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the GLC. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the GLC ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are almost 8 times as many Ford dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Explorer’s warranty.

Reliability

The Explorer has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The GLC doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 11 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

Engine

The Explorer has more powerful engines than the GLC:

Horsepower

Torque

Explorer 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

300 HP

310 lbs.-ft.

Explorer 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

318 HP

322 lbs.-ft.

Explorer Platinum 3.0 turbo V6

365 HP

380 lbs.-ft.

Explorer ST 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

415 lbs.-ft.

GLC 300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

241 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

AMG GLC 43 3.0 turbo V6

362 HP

384 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the Explorer Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The GLC doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Explorer V6 Turbo’s standard fuel tank has 2.8 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLC (20.2 vs. 17.4 gallons).

The Explorer has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The GLC doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A 10-speed automatic is standard on the Ford Explorer, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a nine-speed automatic is available for the GLC.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Explorer has larger standard tires than the GLC (255/65R18 vs. 235/60R18). The Explorer ST/Platinum’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GLC (275/45R21 vs. 255/45R20).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Explorer ST/Platinum offers optional 21-inch wheels. The GLC’s largest wheels are only 20-inches.

The Explorer has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLC; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Explorer’s wheelbase is 6 inches longer than on the GLC (119.1 inches vs. 113.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Explorer is 2.8 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the GLC.

For greater off-road capability the Explorer has a 2.9 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the GLC 300 (7.9 vs. 5 inches), allowing the Explorer to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Explorer’s minimum ground clearance is 1.2 inches higher than on the AMG GLC 43 (7.9 vs. 6.7 inches).

Chassis

The Explorer Hybrid uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The GLC doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Explorer has standard seating for 7 passengers; the GLC can only carry 5.

The Explorer has 2.9 inches more front headroom, 2.2 inches more front legroom, 4.5 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom, 1.7 inches more rear legroom and 5.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLC.

Cargo Capacity

The Explorer’s cargo area provides more volume than the GLC.

Explorer

GLC

Third Seat Folded

47.9 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

19.4 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

87.8 cubic feet

56.5 cubic feet

The Explorer’s cargo area is larger than the GLC’s in every dimension:

Explorer

GLC

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

20.8”/49.8”/83.9”

n.a./36.6”/61.3”

Max Width

59”

49.4”

Min Width

48.1”

43.3”

Height

33.7”

31.1”

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Mercedes GLC is limited to 3500 pounds. The Explorer offers up to a 5600 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Explorer’s exterior PIN entry system. The GLC doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Explorer has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the GLC only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

Recommendations

The Ford Explorer outsold the Mercedes GLC by almost four to one during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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