2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC’s Headlights Steal Its Shine in Safety Ratings

The Mercedes-Benz GLC earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick designation for the 2020 model year, the insurance-industry-backed crash-safety agency’s second-highest award. But there are two caveats for this mid-size luxury SUV: The honor only applies to models equipped with the uprated headlights and optional front crash prevention system.

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The GLC earned good scores in the agency’s six crashworthiness evaluations: the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats tests. The SUV’s optional front crash prevention system, included in the Driver Assistance Package, also earned a superior rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. In the 12-mph test, IIHS said the system avoided a collision; in the 25-mph test, the system reduced the car’s impact speed by 22 mph.

The GLC’s headlight ratings precluded it from earning the top-tier Plus designation. It’s getting tougher to earn Top Safety Pick Plus awards due to increasingly stringent requirements, such as the acceptable or good headlight performance (on a scale of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) on all trim levels. For the 2017 and 2018 model years, the GLC earned the Plus designation, but it managed only the Top Safety Pick prerequisite that a vehicle earn an acceptable or good headlight rating for at least one of its available headlight packages. 

IIHS said the GLC’s optional curve-adaptive LED projector headlights earned a good rating, but the base model’s lights fell short. The entry-level LED reflector headlights earned a poor rating because of inadequate illumination. Mercedes-Benz told IIHS it is working to address the problem for model-year 2021.

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Competitors’ safety bona fides are a mixed bag. The 2020 BMW X3 earned a Top Safety Pick Plus, while the 2020 Lexus RX gets a Top Safety Pick and the 2020 Audi Q5 no IIHS award.

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