Nice, But Pricey
Mercedes got into the compact SUV business three years ago when it introduced the GLK. The GLK was designed to compete primarily with the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Like its competitors, the GLK comes with rear-wheel drive and AWD. For 2013, Mercedes has given its baby SUV a significant upgrade under the hood, but more on that later.
The GLK’s styling breaks no new ground. It’s like a three-quarter version of its larger sibling the Mercedes GL. The body is squarely styled, with an upright windshield, and is reminiscent of SUVs of a decade ago. The interior is more attractive. The dash features a wide panel of walnut trim, highlighted by four chrome vents that resemble airplane propellers. Optional leather seats have contrasting piping, a la Land Rover.
Mercedes designed the GLK primarily for couples without children, and empty nesters. Legroom in the backseat is skimpy, and only adequate for small adults or kids. Similarly, cargo space in the rear is smaller than most SUVs in its class at 54.7 cubic-feet. However, front passengers have very comfortable seating and excellent visibility.
Under the hood, Mercedes has installed a new V-6 engine for 2013. It still displaces 3.5 liters, but it’s entirely different than last year’s motor. This one generates 302 horsepower, 34-hp more than its predecessor. Teamed with a seven-speed transmission (the only gearbox offered) it can rush the GLK to 60 in 6.5 seconds. Furthermore, it gets better gas mileage than the old motor, 19/24 mpg, an improvement of three-mpg. One feature that contributes to the better fuel economy is the “stop/start” feature that shuts the engine off while the car is waiting at a traffic light.
In January, Mercedes will offer an optional 2.1-liter, four cylinder, turbodiesel with 190 horses, and a whopping 369-pound-feet of torque. It’s called the GLK250 CDI, and will be offered only with Mercedes “4Matic” all-wheel-drive system. Reportedly, gas mileage exceeds 38 mpg.
The GLK comes with high-tech and luxury features much the same as others in its class, but unlike other luxury crossovers, most of these items are extra cost options. The mundane blue paint on my test car was an option, so was lumbar support in the front seats. Leather upholstery, the Comand interface, voice control, rearview camera, satellite radio were all optional too. Consequently, this SUV, with a base price of $40,000 (with AWD,) ended up with an MSRP of over 53 grand.
However, while one may find fault with Mercedes’ pricing strategy, the desirability of the optional features is beyond doubt. Keyless ignition/entry is a welcome convenience. The dual-glass sunroof enhances an already airy cabin, and blind-spot assist and lane-departure warning add extra measures of safety.
Additionally, one would be hard pressed to find fault with the performance of the GLK itself. This vehicle feels as strong as vault. The new engine has a lot of punch, and the transmission is smooth and responsive. The handling is not athletic, but is sure-footed. The ride is very well controlled—even potholes don’t upset it.
So, if the space inside meets your needs, and the price of the GLK is right for you, this Mercedes is a good choice.
Strong as a Vault