New & Used Mercedes-Benz GLK Class: In Depth
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Newly updated in 2013, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class remains the least expensive way to drive a crossover SUV with the three-pointed star on the hood. (There's a new compact GLA-Class for 2015, but it's a crossover in the lightest sense of the word.)
Carried over the past two model years, today's GLK has a crisp look and a singularly attractive option: its available turbodiesel, which makes perfect sense in a vehicle like this.
The GLK competes with the likes of the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, and the Range Rover Evoque.
MORE: Read our 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK review for pricing with options, specifications, and fuel economy information
Roughly the same size as the compact C-Class luxury sedan, the GLK offers a package that’s essentially a tall, chunky wagon, and unlike other compact utes doesn’t seek to emulate larger utility vehicles—like in Mercedes-Benz’s case, the M-Class and GL-Class. Stylistically, it looks more like a luxed-up Subaru Forester from some angles. An AMG Styling Package includes deeper front and rear aprons, 20-inch, five-twin-spoke AMG wheels, LED daytime running lights and aluminum roof rails. Inside, the GLK feels a lot more like a luxury car though than a utility vehicle, with excellent switchgear. The seating position is lower than you might expect, with more of a crossover stance than the boxy sheetmetal might indicate.
From its introduction through the 2012 model year, the GLK was offered only in a single model—the GLK 350, powered by a 268-hp, 3.5-liter gasoline V-6 engine. With a seven-speed automatic (including steering-wheel shifter-paddles) and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, the setup earned a 0-60 mph of about 6.7 seconds.
The powertrain options improved for the 2013 model year with the upgrade of the V-6 with direct injection, which bumps power to 302 hp and drops the 0-60 mph time to 6.5 seconds. The GLK also added its long-awaited diesel early in 2013 as a late 2013-model-year vehicle; the turbocharged, 2.2-liter diesel is sold as the GLK 250 BlueTEC in the U.S., and comes only with all-wheel drive and the paddle-shifted automatic.
Stop/start technology was applied to both powertrains for the 2013 model year as well, yielding 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway in the GLK350.
In either configuration, the GLK is tuned almost entirely as an on-road vehicle, with a good relaxed but responsive steering feel and a more settled ride and handling overall compared to most other compact utes. But it does offer good traction for snow along with modest sandy and muddy conditions with its all-wheel-drive system.
From a purely practical standpoint, the GLK makes a lot of sense, with a great driving position and plenty of space for four adults (three can fit in a pinch in back). The rear bench seats fold forward to expand the cargo area to about 55 cubic feet. While interior appointments aren’t quite as lavish as those from Mercedes-Benz’s other models, it does come with all the expected luxury-car features, including automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and Bluetooth connectivity; a power liftgate, navigation system, and rear entertainment system are options. The 2013 update also brought the GLK Mercedes' app and connectivity suite, mbrace2.