2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Review: High price and annoying controls hurt the mid Merc


Pros: Smooth and powerful engine; high-end infotainment system; luxurious materials and lighting

Cons: Tight front seating; cheap and annoying touch controls; busy ride

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is one of its brand’s best sellers, and has been a solid choice in the past. This year, it’s been fully redesigned, and while it adds some flash, it’s not enough to rise to the top of the long list of impressive rivals in the small luxury SUV segment.

The redesign does bring some appealing features. The interior in particular gains the latest ritzy design and technology of larger Mercedes models. The GLC is larger, too, which has helped with a bit more interior space. And it’s all powered by a smooth engine and wrapped in the understated sheetmetal Mercedes is known for.

But plenty of things conspire to diminish the experience. Despite the extra size, the front accommodations are cramped, controls are annoying, and the ride is frustratingly busy. These are all areas entrants from Genesis, Volvo, Acura and more do better, and usually for less money and without sacrificing anything else.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

 

What’s new for 2023?

The GLC-Class SUV has been completely redesigned for 2023, however, the GLC-Class Coupe carries over on the same platform as before. Given how much changed between generations and the differences in body style, this basically leaves us with two different cars to review. As such, we’re only reviewing on this page the traditional SUV body style due to its greater popularity. If you would like to read more about the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe in our most recent review of that generation.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 3002023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 3002023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

What are the GLC’s interior and in-car technology like?

Stepping into the GLC and you’ll be immediately impressed by how much it takes from high-end Mercedes models such as the S-Class. The 11.9-inch touchscreen in particular is eye-catching thanks to its crisp, vibrant graphics. It’s matched by a 12.3-inch instrument screen with similarly elaborate visuals and a selection of designs. The rest of the dash and interior is covered in high-end materials such as real wood and metal. Customizable ambient lighting keeps things looking exciting even when it’s dark.

That big screen is quite responsive, at least after it fully boots, which takes a few moments after hitting the start button. Whether you use the “Zero Layer” mode or the older style with a row of menu icons, most basic functions are fairly easy to access. Menus can get a little deep, though. The instrument screen is highly customizable, too, and the available augmented reality video feed for navigation is trick as it superimposes arrows and other directions onto a live video feed of the road ahead.

What’s not so trick are the extensive use of touch-sensitive button banks. They’re on the doors, steering wheel and along the bottom of the infotainment screen. They’re imprecise and cheap feeling. The steering wheel controls are particularly frustrating, since you’ll be interacting with them frequently. It’s a shame, too, as Mercedes previously had much more premium-looking and feeling traditional switches and buttons for these uses.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 3002023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

How big is the GLC?

The GLC is a bit larger than before, mainly in length where it stretches an extra 2.5 inches. That has added a corresponding amount of cargo space. With all the seats down, it has 59.3 cubic feet. With the rear seats raised, the specs say it has 21.9 cubic-feet, which is more than before, but we suspect Mercedes uses a different measurement technique than other manufacturers because the space itself seems larger than that – much like its predecessors’ cargo area did

Mercedes also claims improved passenger space, but not enough in the area that counts the most: the front. Knee room is seriously tight with the center stack and transmission tunnel taking up all the available space right of the gas pedal. The power-adjustable wheel has limited movement, which exacerbates things. Head and shoulder room are adequate. The seats are sufficiently supportive and have solid adjustment.

The rear seats are actually much more welcoming than the front seats with generous room in all directions. They’re shaped comfortably enough, if a bit firm. A lack of seat recline is disappointing considering its ubiquity on more mainstream compact SUVs. It’s not alone in that omission within the luxury segment, but that’s not an excuse.

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

What are the GLC’s fuel economy and performance specs?

For now, only one engine and transmission are available for the GLC-Class, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a 48-volt mild hybrid assist motor. It makes 258 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. That’s an extra 22 pound-feet over the old model, though just 3 more horsepower. It’s coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission and either rear- or all-wheel-drive. The rear-drive configuration is slightly more efficient between the two with 25 mpg city, 32 highway and 28 combined. All-wheel-drive returns 23 mpg city, 31 highway and 26 combined.

While this is the only powertrain for now, there will certainly be more powerful options in the future bearing the AMG badge, and likely a plug-In hybrid as well.

What’s the GLC like to drive?

On the whole, the GLC is middling for the class. Its one turbocharged engine choice (for now) is powerful enough, and it does impress with its smoothness. The nine-speed automatic is fairly smooth, too, though it’s a bit slow on gear changes.

The ride and handling are the disappointing part of the GLC. It’s on the stiff side, and it never settles down. It’s always rocking or bouncing, even over small bumps. It’s not the calm, cloud-like experience we’ve come to expect from other Mercedes models. It’s not adjustable, either, so you get what you get. And with numb steering, moderate body roll and a generally heavy feel, it doesn’t offset the mediocre ride with engaging handling.

What other Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class reviews can I read?

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 First Drive Review: New, but not improved

Our first time behind the wheel of the second-generation GLC-Class.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class revealed as an evolutionary step forward

The GLC-Class is revealed as a bigger, more powerful small luxury SUV.

 

What is the 2023 GLC price?

Only one model is currently available, the GLC 300, either with standard rear-wheel drive or as the 4Matic with all-wheel drive. The rear-drive version starts at $48,250, and 4Matic brings the price up to $50,250.

On the outside, the GLC 300 comes standard with full LED lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sunroof. The interior is particularly well-equipped with an enormous 11.9-inch infotainment screen, 12.3-inch instrument display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless device charging, ambient lighting, and heated, power, memory front seats.

Notable optional features include a sportier AMG-Line exterior trim, a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, front seat ventilation, rear seat heating, upgraded Burmester sound system, insulated glass and navigation with augmented reality video feed.

What are the GLC safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The GLC-Class comes with some useful safety features as standard. Most notably, it comes with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, automatic headlights with high-beam assist and driver attention monitoring. Available as options are adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-keeping and automated lane changes; parking sensors with automated parking capability; and surround-view cameras.

Third-party crash ratings were not available at the time of this writing.

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