Best-Selling Small Luxury SUVs: Which Is Better GLC or X3?

The Mercedes Benz GLC is not just Mercedes’s best-selling SUV ever but its best-selling vehicle period. The X3 at BMW fights with the X5 to be that company’s sales leader. These two German SUVs are well matched in size, performance, and in utility. But which small luxury SUV is better the GLC or X3 mostly depends on whether you prefer the three-pointed star or a blue-and-white roundel.

Which is bigger, the GLC or X3?

A mercedes GLC on a coastal road
Mercedes GLC SUV | Mercedes

Both of these SUVs will hold five passengers in comfort. The GLC is a little bit smaller inside than the BMW X3 and doesn’t hold as much cargo. The X3 holds 56.5 cubic feet vs. 62.7 for the GLC. But, the GLC has a half-inch more legroom in front. The X3 is 185.9 inches long, while the Mercedes is only 183 inches long, which won’t make much of a difference in parking in the Trader Joe’s lot.

The big difference between GLC or X3 is in feel

Mercedes GLC in teh mud
Mercedes GLC | Mercedes

The GLC may be a luxury SUV, but it was designed to do some off-road duty. It’s 4Matic all-wheel drive, higher ground clearance (by 23 mm), and slightly higher suspension let if conquer trails the BMW wouldn’t dare tread. BMW calls its SUVs Sports Activity Vehicles, and it emphasizes the its SAV on-road performance. One quick tour of YouTube and you’ll see X3s (especially in M trim) on race tracks, not singletracks.

The BMW was refreshed for 2022, the GLC next year

A green BMW X3 luxury compact SUV is driving on the road.
The BMW X3 | BMW

The big update for the X3 was for 2022. The X3 was made a bit bigger all around and the wheelbase was expanded. The big news was the addition of a 48-volt mild hybrid system in the X3 M40i version. The X3 comes in X3 sDrive30i, X3 xDrive30i, and X3 M40i trims. The base 2-liter turbo engine has 248 horsepower, while the M40i has a 382-horsepower six-cylinder. It’s the second smallest of BMW’s line of SUVs … or, SAVs.

The GLC will be updated with several new engines and new tech for 2023. But, for now, the 2022 Mercedes GLC has two major versions, the GLC 300 and the GLC 300 4MATIC SUV. It’s well matched to the X3 with a 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder.

We love the performance versions of each, too

It seems like no BMW these days can escape the M treatment. The motorsports arm of BMW can’t keep its hands off any BMW, and the X3 is no different. The X3 M Sport comes with an M suspension and also a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine with 473 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic that launches the X3 to 60 miles-per-hour in a blistering 3.7 seconds. It’s not cheap though at $70,100.  

At Benz, the magicians from AMG massage two different versions out of the GLC into the AMG GLC 43, which has a 385-horsepower bi-turbo V6 and all-wheel drive for $59,900. But if you really want to move, step up to the GLC63 S, which is $82,000 and packs 503 horsepower,. It can sprint to 60 in less than 3.5 seconds.

The prices of the GLC or X3 are close, too

a 2022 BMW X3 on a dock
2022 BMW X3 | BMW

Both SUVs are close in price, too. The base X3 sDrive 30i starts at $45,400 in two-wheel drive trim. The all-wheel drive xDrive version has an MSRP of $47,400.The 2022 GLC starts at $43,850 while all-wheel drive GLC 300 4 MATIC is $45,850.

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