Mercedes Benz GLC In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

The GLC is a luxury compact SUV that made its debut in 2016 and is currently Mercedes best selling model.

It has a potent engine lineup, high-end interior and surefooted handling.

But how well does it perform during the winter and in the snow? 

We’ll cover that in this article, read on to find out…


Here is the short answer to whether the Mercedes Benz GLC is good for snow and winter driving:

The Mercedes GLC is good in snow thanks to its generous ground clearance, 4-Matic AWD, and many safety features. It has Stability Control, Traction Control, and Brake Assist technologies. The combination of these qualities in the GLC means you can drive safely and comfortably in winter.

Is the GLC Good in the Snow?

During the winter months the GLC makes a great daily driver and will have no issues tackling snowy roads and slick terrain.

One of the big advantages of the GLC during the winter is its ride height – as a general rule when driving in snow the more clearance the better.

Depending on model year the GLC sits at around 7 inches and when equipped with DYNAMIC SELECT, the GLC can raise itself to a height of 9 inches which allows for more clearance over deep snow.

It also comes available with the world-class 4Matic AWD, the system can detect when and where traction is lost on one of its wheels, and redirect its torque to the wheels with traction, giving it better grip and control when needed.

Its lighter weight and smaller exterior dimensions, compared to larger trucks and SUVs, also make it nimbler to drive and easier to manage on slippery surfaces. 

The GLC is one of the leading choices in its segment and has been engineered to handle the toughest of cold weather conditions.

Before going into production, the GLC needed to pass a series of tests in northern Sweden which included:

  • Snow covered roads
  • Demanding hill climbs
  • Frozen lakes
  • Freezing temperatures down to -31°F

These tests pose the stiffest of challenges for the control systems and powertrain and proved the GLC met the high standards required of a Mercedes-Benz.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

The GLC is loaded with advanced features, luxuries and all the latest tech to make winter driving easier, safer and more comfortable. 

We’ll take a closer look at some of these in this section.

4Matic All-Wheel Drive

The GLC is available in both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations.

Of course, AWD is the optimal choice if you’re going to be driving through anything more than light winters, as RWD vehicles are more prone to sliding and fishtailing.

Mercedes Benz’s 4Matic AWD system is always on and splits the power between the front and rear wheels at a 45:55 ratio. The AMG models are more rear-wheel biased compared to the regular GLC. 

4Matic works seamlessly in the background and you don’t have to manually put it into 4WD mode every time you come across challenging terrain.

AWD gives you more traction and better handling on slippery surfaces.

It also makes driving up steep snow-covered driveways and inclines much easier compared to the RWD version.

Electronic Stability Program

The GLC uses an Electronic Stability Program (ESP), more commonly known as a Stability Control System, to keep the car from sliding all over the place when it’s slippery. 

It constantly monitors your driving inputs such as steering and gas, and compares it with the vehicle’s speed and direction. 

Once it detects your trajectory is out of synch and the vehicle is sliding, the ESP will automatically apply the brakes and cut engine power to help get you back on track and maintain stability.

The ESP also uses Torque Brake Vectoring which gently applies the brakes to the inner wheel when you’re cornering so that the car turns more effectively. 

Related: How Long Do Mercedes Benz GLC Last?

4-Wheel Electronic Traction System

The GLC’s 4-Wheel Electronic Traction System or 4ETS helps minimize tire slippage and traction loss by automatically applying the brakes once it detects wheelspin. 

During the winter, you can easily make your wheels spin just by stepping on the gas a little too much — especially if you’re driving on snow or ice. 

By keeping wheelspin to a minimum, your tires can grip the road better.

In addition, when 4ETS applies the brakes to one of the wheels, it transfers power to the wheel on the opposite side which often has more grip.

This helps you easily drive through uneven surfaces or extremely slippery patches of ice.

Dynamic Select

Dynamic Select comes as standard on the GLC, the system modifies the driving characteristics at the touch of a button and you can select various driving modes such as:

  • Sport 
  • Comfort
  • Eco 
  • Individual

Depending on the type of drive the following characteristics can be changed:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Suspension
  • Steering
  • Suspension system

The AMG models also have an additional Slippery mode because the extra power they have on tap will make them more prone to wheelspin during the winter.

In the regular GLC 300, the Comfort and Eco mode will make the car easier to handle in the winter compared to the Sport setting which puts the engine and transmission to their most aggressive settings. 

Related: 6 Most Common Mercedes-Benz GLC Problems (Explained)

Anti-Lock Braking System

The GLC is equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes and an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS).

During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.

If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.

By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the driver’s control.

Adaptive Braking Technology

Fitted as standard across the latest GLC trims, Adaptive Braking Technology is a series of innovations that helps improve braking and consists of:

  • Predictive Brake Priming – uses special sensors that predict emergency stops. In some situations, the brake pads are brought closer to the brake rotors when you release the gas pedal and are therefore ‘pre-charged’ for a quicker response. 
  • Automatic Brake Drying – dries your brake rotors when it’s raining or snowing outside by occasionally applying light brake pressure just enough to remove water build-up. 
  • Hill Start Assist – keeps the car from rolling backward so you don’t have to worry about quickly switching from the brakes to the gas pedal and sliding downhill. 

Air Body Control

The GLC AMG models come with Air Body Control as standard.

This is a type of air suspension that will soften or stiffen the ride depending on the drive mode you’re using. 

It also lowers the ride height of the vehicle for better handling and can raise the body to help you clear obstacles on the ground such as deep snow. 

Heated Mirrors and Seats

The Mercedes Benz GLC comes with many creature comforts to make the cabin more comfortable in the winter. 

Heated side mirrors and front seats come as standard equipment, but you can also get heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel as options.

Related: BMW X3 in Snow & Winter Driving

Remote Engine Start

Remote Start is another feature that’s nice to have when it’s freezing outside. 

It allows you to turn on the engine and the heater using a mobile app, so that the cabin is already cozy and warm by the time you get in. 

Advanced Driver Aids

The GLC comes standard with modern Driver Aids such as:

  • Active Brake Assist
  • Crosswind Assist
  • Blind Spot Assist

You also have the option of adding more driving assists such as:

  • Active Distance Assist 
  • Active Steering Assist
  • Evasive Steering Assist
  • Active Speed Limit Assist
  • Active Lane Change Assist
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
  • Surround View System

Does the Mercedes Benz GLC Have a Snow Mode?

The AMG models of the GLC have an additional driving program labeled as Slippery. 

This is the same as the Snow Mode you’ll find in other models and basically changes the engine, transmission and ESP settings to make the car better suited to slippery surfaces by reducing throttle sensitivity. 

In the GLC 300, you can switch it to Comfort or Eco to make the throttle response less aggressive and less prone to wheelspin. 

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on the GLC?

The GLC can be fitted with extra snow gear to make it more suitable for extreme winter driving. 

Some of the snow gear you can install on the GLC include:

  • Snow tires
  • Snow socks
  • Studded tires
  • Tire Chains

The manual recommends only fitting chains to the rear wheels because putting tire chains on the front wheels can damage the bodywork if there’s not enough clearance.

You can also attach a tow hook to the front or rear bumpers in case you get stuck in the snow and need to be pulled out.

How Much Snow Can a GLC Handle?

The GLC’s ground clearance averages around 6-7 inches depending on model year, which can go down to a little when it’s fully loaded up. 

This should be more than enough for most winter driving situations, as well as occasions when you need to drive over unplowed roads and deeper snowbanks. 

It’s best to avoid driving in snow deeper than 7 inches because it could damage the underside of the car and cause you to get stuck. 

How Does the Mercedes Benz GLC Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Mercedes Benz is widely known for its reliability and build quality, so you should have trouble driving the GLC even if the temperature drops below zero. 

Because of its popularity, the GLC sees a lot of use in both North America and Europe and it’s proven to be a very reliable daily driver in the winter. 

If you live in an area with really long and cold winters there are a couple of things you can do to prepare the GLC for the conditions such as:

  • Changing to cold weather rated engine oil
  • Installing an engine block heater
  • Regularly topping up the battery with a battery tender
  • Fitting proper snow tires

Can the GLC Drive on Ice?

With all the electronic driver aids that come standard on the GLC, it can drive on ice, although you should always do so with caution. 

Even the RWD versions can drive on ice (with good snow tires on) since the ESP, Traction Control and ABS are always there to maximize what little grip there is. 

You may also be interested in our article: Mercedes Benz GLE in Snow & Winter Driving

Does the GLC Have 4WD?

The GLC can be equipped with Mercedes Benz’s highly regarded 4Matic AWD system. 

It’s always on so you don’t have to fiddle with different settings to get the most out of it in the winter. 

It’s also quite intelligent and responsive so you should have no problem driving on slippery surfaces or taking it through light off-road tracks.

What About Older GLC Models And Winter Driving?

The Mercedes Benz GLC is still in its first generation so even older models that are only a couple of years old will be equipped with all the driver aids and safety systems we’ve listed here so far.

The predecessor of the GLC is the GLK which is also similarly equipped with modern driver aids and AWD making it very easy to drive in the winter.

Does the Mercedes GLC Need Snow Tires?

When temperatures drop you’ll need to put on a good set of snow tires to maximize the performance of the GLC. 

The stock all-season tires will harden up and will give you significantly less grip even with AWD. 

The benefits of snow tires are:

  • They enable safer braking
  • They provide optimal traction
  • They offer more controlled handling
  • They prevent hydroplaning

So whether you’re driving the AWD or RWD versions of the GLC, snow tires are an absolute necessity if you’re going to be driving in rough winter conditions for prolonged periods of time. 

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on a Mercedes Benz GLC?

The GLC is built on a unibody platform which isn’t as strong as body-on-frame designs you’ll find in pickup trucks and larger SUVs. 

Most snow plows are designed to be attached directly to a vehicle’s frame so fitting a plow on the GLC will require some creativity.

Even if you are able to mount a snow plow on the GLC, there’s a good chance that you’ll damage your body panels and put a lot of strain on the drivetrain and likely invalidate the vehicle’s warranty. 

So we don’t recommend using the GLC to plow snow – especially if you’re going to be using it to plow really deep and heavy snow banks. 

Please also read our article: 15 Mercedes GLC Facts & Statistics



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...

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