2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Review: Busy ride and annoying controls hurt the mid Merc

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Pros: Smooth and powerful engine; sharper-than-expecting handling; luxurious materials and lighting; good cargo space

Cons: Busy ride; cheap and annoying touch controls; tight front seating

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 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, most notably in the cargo area. 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, the back seat is far from spacious, certain 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 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 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 as we discovered in one test vehicle, may take 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. Just think twice about wearing polarized sunglasses -- they significantly reduce the head-up display's legibility.

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 richer-feeling traditional switches and buttons for these uses.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 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. In our luggage test, we found that it could easily hold a whole extra suitcase compared to the last generation. The GLC now has one of the larger cargo areas among compact luxury SUVs and even includes a spare tire, which is rarity in the segment.

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. They're shaped comfortably enough, if a bit firm. Overall space is only so-so -- you'll find more in a Volvo XC60, Acura RDX and just about any non-luxury compact SUV. A lack of seat recline is also 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 Coupe
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2023 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?

For now at least, the GLC has only one engine choice, but it's a good one. The 2.0-liter turbo-four is smooth and competitively powerful, with a nice little snarl to it that gets enhanced (artificially) when you're in Sport mode. The nine-speed automatic transmission does a good job of staying out of the way and smartly swapping cogs as needed for highway passing and the like. Should you find yourself feeling frisky on a winding road, selecting the sportiest drive mode results in the nine-speed expertly shifting exactly when you'd want it too, especially when braking into a corner. Though the GLC has paddle shifters, we didn't feel the need to use them (always a sign of an above-average automatic). Its capability in this regard betters that of many automatic-equipped performance-oriented cars.

The GLC's handling also impressed on our mountain road test route, flicking between tight corners with poise and agility. The steering is lighter in effort (though does tighten up a bit in Sport), but feedback is sufficient for the task given this segment of vehicle. If anything, the GLC's handling capability is overkill considering it almost certainly contributes to a constantly busy ride quality. The suspension just doesn't feel like there's enough travel, as opposed to some vehicles that simply could use smaller wheels.


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 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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