The 2017 and 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class have earned a Top Safety Pick Plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The accolade, IIHS' highest designation, came after the luxury SUV aced the agency's five crashworthiness tests and earned adequate scores in IIHS' evaluations of automatic braking and headlight systems.
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In IIHS' automatic braking test, the GLC-Class garnered a top grade of superior (out of none, basic, advanced or superior) with either of its auto brake systems. The SUV received 5 out of 6 points with its basic Collision Prevention Assist Plus; it got the full 6 points with the more sophisticated Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Recognition system, which is optional. Either score is sufficient for IIHS' superior rating.
The same can't be said for headlights, which have a wider variance between different systems. You'd have to upgrade to the GLC's optional LED headlights to get a car that meets Top Safety Pick Plus criteria. With its standard halogen units, the GLC earned a marginal score (out of poor, marginal, acceptable or good) in IIHS tests, a rating that puts any car with halogen headlights below the "Plus" threshold. With the optional LEDs, the GLC earned an acceptable score; an adaptive provision with automatic high beams elevates the score to good. Either rating makes the SUV eligible for the Plus designation.
The GLC arrived for the 2016 model year, but IIHS says it hadn't put the SUV through a full battery of tests until now. The ratings for crashworthiness, forward collision warning and automatic emergency apply to the 2016-18 GLC-Class, but the headlight ratings apply only to the 2017-18 GLC-Class. It's important to note that the award applies only to the GLC SUV and not to the coupe body style.
Versus competitors, the GLC-Class stacks up well, with the 2017 Acura RDX also earning a Plus rating and the 2018 Audi Q5 earning Top Safety Pick but falling short of the highest honor due to marginal-rated headlights; neither the 2017 BMW X3 nor the 2017 Lincoln MKC earned a Top Safety Pick award.