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Checking off all the right boxes for upscale motoring, regardless of the weather and road conditions

COURTESY MECEDES-BENZ USA - The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC SUV is a handsome compact crossover at a suprisingly reasonable price.Writing about most Mercedes products is always tricky because the German manufacturer offers them in classes — each vehicle can be ordered in a range of designs, with performance and cost varying wildly from the base to the most luxurious and high performance models.

The problem is ever greater with the 2020 GLC-class, the most recent version of the company's compact crossover. Not only does it come as a conventional hatchback SUV, it can be ordered as a four-door coupe that incorporates a hatch into its fastback style. So where does the new GLC 300 4MATIC SUV — the subject of this week's review — fit in the scheme of things?

COURTESY MERCEDES-BENZ USA - Luxury is a trademark of Mercedes-Benz and the 2020 GLC 300 4MATIC SUV is a good example of the company's high standards.

Comfortably in the middle, I'd say. Our test version was the conventional hatchback, which is not as polarizing as the coupe. It added all-wheel-drive to the base 300, which makes sense in the Pacific Northwest. It shared the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four cylinder engine with the base model instead of adding the electric motor in the 350e hybrid version or pushing the limits with the 4.0-liter twin turbocharged V8 found in the top-of-the-line AMG GLC 63 edition (whch doesn't even include the 300 designation).

But that does not mean our 2020 GLC 300 4MATIC SUV was compromised. Far from out. The base 2.0T engine pumps out a healthy 255 horsepower and 273 foot pounds of torque. Mated to a responsive 9G-Tronic nine-speed transmission, that is more than enough power for quick starts and freeway passing. Even better, driver can select between different modes that make a real difference on the road — Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Dynamic, which is customizable. I'm sure the AMG GLC 63 is faster, but for most drivers, our test version was fast enough.

COURTESY MECEDES-BENZ USA - The SUV version of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC is a practical hatchack. A four-door coupe version is also available.

But speed isn't everything. The GLC-class competes in the hotly competitive premium company crossover market, so luxury and technologies are also important. Here Mercedes may well be the best in its class, or at least tied with Audi and BMW for that honor. Our GLC 300 was sumptuous, with a rich leather interior, the most advanced safety systems available, and the new the Mercedes-Benz User eXperience (MBUX) infotainment and navigation system that includes voice control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, and a 12.3-inch all-digital driver information display.

On the road, our GLC 300 was a delight to drive. Regardless of road conditions, it always felt solid and comfortable, imparting confidence to the driver and assurance to the passengers. Weather never felt threatening, including the first heavy rains of late fall. The precise handling also made driving through crowded downtown streets a breeze.

COURTESY MERCEDES-BENZ USA - An easy-to-reach touchpad controls much of the infortainment system in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC SUV.

The all-wheel drive version of the GLC 300 starts at a ridiculously low $44,500, or about as much as some fully-loaded affordable family cars. Our test version was $63,810, including a Driver Assistance Package that features the most advanced safety systems. That's still a very good price, considering the competition.

Although the designations can be a little confusing, the 300 4MATIC SUV version of the 2020 GLC-class is the one to start with if you're interested a seriously engineered, genuine luxury compact crossover.

COURTESY MERCEDES-BENZ USA - The front seats in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC SUV are among the most comfortable of any vehicle.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC SUV

Base price: $44,500

Price as tested: $63,810

Type: Compact SUV

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (255 hp, 273 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 21/28

Overall length: 183.8 inches

Curb weight: 3,977 pounds

Final assembly: Bremen, Germany

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