- Good road manners
- SUV shape in a crossover world
- Nicely contoured front seats
- Is the SUV shape out of touch?
- Leather's an option
- Cargo space is on the small side
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK offers two great engine options in a baby-SUV shell, but with the comfort and dynamics of a crossover.
The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class was redesigned recently, and last year it got a new efficient diesel four-cylinder option. The GLK continues into 2015 unchanged.
What has changed, however, is that the GLK is no longer Benz's smallest sport-ute. With the addition of the CLA-based GLA-Class for 2015, the GLK loses its entry-level status, although it is still the smallest rear-drive-based utility Mercedes offers. It continues to stand out among small, luxurious crossovers, taking the boxy road instead of resembling another tall wagon.
In this way, the GLK takes many cues form the three-row GL SUV as well as the G-Class, Mercedes's oldest and squarest current offering. With its recent redesign, the GLK received new lighting elements that updated the look, as well as a freshened interior that brought the materials up to the level everyone else in the segment is playing at. The styling is straightforward inside and out, with design flourishes shared among all of the current Mercedes offerings.
Soft-touch materials and a handsome dash encompass a large LCD screen in the center, surrounded by largely intuitive controls. There's ample room for all passengers, and the front seats are supportive and nicely tailored. Finding a comfortable driving position isn't difficult, even for taller drivers. Knee room is fine in the second-row seat, and the angular roofline preserves head room, too.
The rear seats fold forward to expand the GLK's cargo bin, leaving 54.7 cubic feet of space if just two passengers are present. With four people on board, the 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row is on the small side for the category. The standard upholstery in the GLK is a synthetic, and most passengers will never know the difference; leather is, of course, an option.
Two engines are available in the GLK. The gas option is a 3.5-liter V-6, while those more concerned with efficiency can opt for a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four. The gasoline engine offers quick power, delivered to either the rear or all four wheels via a seven-speed, paddle-shifted automatic, and configured with stop/start control and direct injection to raise fuel economy to a combined 21-mpg rating. The engine is gutsy and vibrant, with a more pleasant sound than before, and it delivers 0-to-60-mph times of 6.5 seconds.
The BlueTEC turbodiesel is rated at 190 horsepower, with a substantial 369 pound-feet of torque, and shares the automatic; all-wheel drive is standard. It pulls to 60 mph in about 8.0 seconds, with very little turbo lag away; a system of two differently sized turbos makes is feel more like a naturally aspirated engine. On two different test drives, we substantially exceeded its 28-mpg combined EPA fuel economy rating--a common trait of modern passenger-vehicle diesels.
With either engine, the roughly 4,100-pound GLK feels relaxed and relatively swift in everyday driving. On pavement, the GLK has a car-like cadence to its ride motions and its cornering forces. The steering's gone electric, but isn't completely numb; it corners neatly, though with less heft than before. Feedback was never a Mercedes trait, and again it's not abundant here. The suspension is tuned to be taut but well damped; it doesn't allow much body motion, but soaks up most roughness while the cabin stays tight and quiet. It's certainly not a hardcore off-roader, but its 4WD system will cut its way through foul weather, delivering power smoothly through muddy ruts and tackling the usual all-weather challenges pretty easily.
The GLK's standard-equipment list leaves no question that it's a luxury vehicle. It includes 19-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, and Bluetooth connectivity. Satellite radio is available; so are a power tailgate; a navigation system powered by COMAND; and 20-inch wheels. New this year on all models is mbrace2, the Mercedes connectivity suite that puts mobile apps in touch with the vehicle--so that Yelp, Google search, and Facebook are a voice command or fingertip touch away. No SUV from the past ever did that--but more crossovers in the near future surely will.