2017 Mercedes-benz GLC300 Chris­tian Se­abaugh

“The GLC300’S in­fo­tain­ment dis­play is high-resolution and easy to read with just a glance while driv­ing down the road.”

Motor Trend (USA) - - Update -

Like it or not, how we in­ter­act with a car nowa­days is in­creas­ingly de­fined not just by the be­hind-the­wheel ex­pe­ri­ence but also by how we work with its elec­tronic sys­tems.

I re­ally like our 2017 GLC’S COMAND in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. Part of our tester’s mul­ti­me­dia pack­age, Comand-equipped GLCS get a larger 8.4-inch screen mounted on top of the cen­ter stack, a touch­pad con­troller mounted above the tra­di­tional scroll wheel/knob con­trol in the cen­ter con­sole, and fea­tures such as nav­i­ga­tion with traf­fic alerts, satel­lite ra­dio, and voice con­trol.

With the ad­di­tion of the touch­pad con­troller— that weird palm­rest-look­ing thing you see in pic­tures of the cen­ter con­sole—there are ef­fec­tively two ways to nav­i­gate COMAND: the touch­pad or the scroll wheel/knob. More of­ten than not I find my­self us­ing the knob to nav­i­gate the var­i­ous in­fo­tain­ment func­tions. I pre­fer the tac­tile feed­back of the knob ver­sus the touch­pad, es­pe­cially while on the move.

I also ap­pre­ci­ate how easy it is to nav­i­gate Mercedes’ in­stru­ment clus­ter dis­play. Mercedes makes it easy to quickly check the GLC’S fuel econ­omy, range, ser­vice needs, and even the last time you took a break, all con­trolled at the tip of your left thumb on the left side of the wheel. It’s the lat­ter sys­tem, dubbed At­ten­tion As­sist, that

I like least.

The sys­tem uses a va­ri­ety of on­board sen­sors to de­ter­mine if you’re too tired to keep driv­ing. If it thinks you’re tired, it’ll set off a loud chime and dis­play a cof­fee cup on the dash.

Stud­ies have shown the risks of drowsy driv­ing are as high as drunk driv­ing, but this sys­tem is in­con­sis­tent. For ex­am­ple, af­ter around five hours of straight driv­ing on Cal­i­for­nia’s charm­less I-5 in the mid­dle of a sunny af­ter­noon, I found my­self strug­gling to stay alert. I checked the At­ten­tion As­sist mon­i­tor, and it showed I was highly alert. Com­pare this to a few days later, when in a well­rested (and highly caf­feinated) state, I hit the road around 3 a.m. to catch a flight. Within an hour and a half of driv­ing, the sys­tem had gone off twice, scar­ing me in the process, even though I didn’t feel I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any symp­toms of drowsi­ness.

It might sound like I’m nit­pick­ing—and to a cer­tain ex­tent I am—but the sin­gle most im­por­tant fac­tor for any ve­hi­cle safety sys­tem is that it’s con­sis­tent. A driver has to be able to rely on safety sys­tems, whether it’s At­ten­tion As­sist or for­ward col­li­sion alert, be­cause any doubt could wind up be­ing the dif­fer­ence be­tween life and death.

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