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The Goldilocks Equation: The 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 front 3/4 view

As of this writing, and not counting the G-Class, AMG, Maybach or its EQ electric series, Mercedes-Benz offers five SUVs: The GLA, GLB, GLC, GLE and GLS. Apart from the omission of GLD and GLF through GLR, it's alphabetical and it's also in order of size, the GLA being the smallest of the SUVs, the GLB a bit larger and the GLC a bit larger still, and the GLE even a bit more with the GLS a full-size three-row meant to go head-to-head with the big BMW X7.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 rear 3/4 view

That makes the GLC the largest five-passenger SUV in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio---and a realistic "just right" choice for a large segment of the buying public.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 hood up

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 engine

Power for the GLC 300 comes from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine with a mild hybrid. 255 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque and a nine-speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel economy is impressive at 28 mpg combined city/highway. I noticed just one problem with power---with the drive mode in "normal", turbo lag is significant. An emergency that requires getting out of the way rightnow isn't in the playbook---there's a solid two seconds before the engine room gets the message. I solved it by making my default driving mode "sport".

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 rear seat

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 front seats

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 front seat detail

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 instrument panel

As far as materials, fit and finish, the GLC is as nice as Mercedes' SUVs get. And it's all the more impressive when you consult the window sticker and find the base price, including destination, is $47,100.

That price buys a bunch of standard equipment, including dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless go and keyless start, an 11.9-inch center touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power heated front seats with lumbar support, driver-side memory, a power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and ambient interior lighting.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 instrument display and steering wheel

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 center stack

There were more than $14,000 worth of options on our tester---but the truth (sorry, Mercedes) is that you could leave most of those off and come in under $50,000---$49,050 to be exact. That requires saying yes to just one option---the Driver Assistance Package. It contains essential active safety features (adaptive cruise control, steering assist, lane change assist, lane keeping assist, blind spot assist, brake assist with cross-traffic function, evasive steering assist, emergency stop assist) as well as a couple less essential ones (speed limit assist and route-based speed adaptation). Standard on a lot of cars in the $20,000s, Mercedes insists on making these things extra-cost, in this case $1,950. In case you're wondering why I singled out speed limit assist and route-based speed adaptation as being less essential or desirable, it's simple. The concept is a great one---you're in cruise control at 65 MPH and the speed limit suddenly drops to, say, 55. The car slows down to keep you from getting a ticket. Great, right? Unless and until the system gets bad speed limit information. There's a stretch of U.S. 50 east of Sacramento that's part of my daily commute. It's where traffic hits a straight coming out of some turns and begins to speed up. So you're at 65, and somehow (a glitch left over from a long-over construction project?) the system gets the word that the speed limit is 45. The brakes go on and the guy behind you accelerating is closing fast. It's no fun. My neighbor across the street bought one of these last year. He disabled the feature on the third day. The options this car had that you'd need to skip to keep the price tag below $50k? The Nautical Blue Metallic paint ($750), the 20-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels ($850), ventilated front seats ($450), an upgraded panorama roof ($1,500), a six-month trial of SiriusXM Satellite Radio ($350), the advanced USB package (more powerful USB ports and more of them---$300), the Night Package (high-gloss black trim---$200), the AMG Line package (AMG body styling, brushed aluminum sport pedals with rubber studs, MB-Tex instrument panel and beltlines in Black Nappa look, flat-bottom multifunction sport steering wheel, AMG floor mats, perforated front disc brakes with Mercedes-Benz calipers, body-color wheel arch trim---$3,450), and Pinnacle Trim (surround view system, Guard 360, the Burmester surround sound system, illuminated door sills, enhanced ambient lighting, navigation, digital light headlamps with projection function, heat and noise insulating glass, augmented video for navigation and head-up display---$4,450). And I'll fess up. I'd spring for the Pinnacle Trim for the Burmester surround sound, navigation, insulated glass and the head-up display. That car would sticker at $53,500.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 front view

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 side view

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 rear view

But honestly, at this car's as-tested price of $61,250, the GLC 300 is still a strong value---a bank-vault solid midsize SUV that's also a Mercedes. Just make sure the drive mode stays in "sport".


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