I took another road trip in another Mercedes, this time it was the 2018 Mercedes_Benz GLC 350e.

Compared to last month’s test vehicle the GLA, this SUV is bigger, quieter and smoother to drive.

As a plug-in hybrid, the 350e can travel about 34 kilometres on electric power only. Most likely drivers will rarely do that. Instead the 350e lends itself to using both electric and gas engine power. And if you don’t have an easy place to plug in and charge the battery, a lot of travel will be powered by the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine.

Like all Mercedes it is a finely crafted vehicle, with a top notch interior. The leather seats are lavishly padded and nicely sculpted, dark wood trim is understated, switches feel expensive.

It was a fine chariot for a road trip to Whitby.

Now Whitby may not be on your radar, but should you go there are many things waiting to impress a newcomer.

We may be pretty proud of our waterfront, but Whitby perhaps has more reason to brag. Take just about any street toward Lake Ontario and you will find wonderful walking and cycling trails to explore that are clean and in good condition. A large grant from the Pan Am Legacy Fund helped complete 13 kilometres of paved tails, separated from the road and passing through two major wetlands. In town the trail passes through the big Whitby Marina which has a pit stop for food and drink from June to September.

While exploring the trail I discovered the hard to miss Iroquois Shores Sport Centre. Housed in a funky modern building the sports centre sits on 50 acres of land  and is the largest municipal recreation centre in Canada. With six arenas, two pools, a stadium, elite athlete training centre, tennis, baseball and soccer facilities it’s an impressive accomplishment for a city of just over 120,000 people.

Then there’s the award winning Whitby Public Library. Occupying 54,000 square feet in the centre of town, the concrete and glass library sits on a civic square where outdoor markets are held in the summer. The library manages to be open and airy and cozy at the same time with intimate seating by a fireplace in one area, and big tables for spreading out books in another section. There’s also a cafe.

Not far from the library is the Station Art Gallery housed in the Whitby’s old Grand Trunk Railway Station, the gallery has studio space as well as changing exhibitions.

Cruising around Whitby on a lovely fall day was a pleasant way to evaluate the 350e.

There is much to like about this SUV including the 315 horsepower and 413 lb.-ft. of torque that keep it hustling. The ability to choose driving modes of eco, comfort and sport should please most drivers. A panoramic sunroof expands the feeling of space in the already roomy front and back seats.

It is hard to reconcile the price though. The  GLC 350e is almost $13,000 more than the gas only GLC. My test car was $$71, 465.  During my week driving  I averaged 10.3 L/100 km in combined driving.  That’s more than the official fuel consumption numbers, but most of my driving was done in sport mode.

As more hybrids and plug-in hybrids come on the market, consumers will have to judge for themselves when it makes sense to pay a premium for the technology and the claimed fuel efficiency.

Kathy Renwald

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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