The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK arrived at a perfect time, when many utility owners were looking to downsize into something more fuel efficient. While the GLK has been a success, Mercedes-Benz sees even more potential for its smallest crossover and for 2013 has upped its features, power, and economy. So let’s see if the new GLK hits a trifecta.
While the small crossover segment is indeed still growing, the luxury crossover piece of the pie seems primed to really take off; and the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 will make up a large portion of that piece.
And even though this is Benz’s smallest car-based crossover, behind the wheel it feels very truck-like, with a very long hood, great visibility all around, and a commanding driving position. Even the rake of the steering wheel feels more like a truck than a car, it all makes for a very relaxing and in-control driving experience, particularly for long highway jaunts.
We found the overhaul of the interior environment most appealing. With new ambient lighting, there’s almost a vintage feel to the space with big chunks of real wood and large chrome air vents. All the luxury bells and whistles you expect are present, making for a very busy center stack, but button overload is somewhat alleviated by the improved COMAND system.
Seats are on the firm side, but offer great support for long drives, and feel truly luxury SUV worthy. Rear seat room is seriously tight, making the GLK more for empty nesters than young families, but the seats themselves are comfortable, provided your time spent in them is limited. The cargo area is also very narrow, making bulky item hauling a bit tricky, but there is room for 23.3 cubic-ft. of goods. Folding the rear seatbacks gets you 54.7 cubic-ft. of space. But, the GLK is also smaller than most of its competition, with just a 108.5-inch wheelbase, and overall length of 178.3-inches.
Exterior styling updates are relatively minor but quite noticeable with new fascias front and rear. They combine to make this mini-ute a little more in step with the rest of the Benz SUV line-up, but it is still a bit chunky with its angular nose and steeply raked windshield. Again, a bit retro and certainly more truck looking than most compact SUVs.
Our tester had the new AMG Style Package which adds LED daytime runners, aluminum roof rails, and 20-inch alloy wheels that make the taut ride even more so. Under the 350’s hood, more changes are afoot, and we like them even more. Though still 3.5-liters, the V6 is all-new with Direct Injection and automatic Stop/Start. Output is 302-horsepower, a gain of 34, and 273 lb-ft. of torque.
And Government Fuel Economy Ratings are up to 19-City, 24-Highway, and 21-Combined for our 4MATIC. All numbers are plus 3 over last year. Still we averaged only a modest 22.6 miles-per-gallon of Premium. That brings the Energy Impact Score up to near average at 15.7-barrels of annual oil consumption, with yearly CO2 emissions of 7.0-tons. The GLK’s stop/start system was noticeable, but not as obtrusive as some. Those looking for even better fuel economy can opt for the GLK250 BlueTEC diesel when it arrives next year.
There are a wide variety of advanced safety features available like Attention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist. New for 2013 is Active Park Assist. Optional too is 4Matic all-wheel-drive, a permanent system with a 45-to-55 front to rear torque split. We found it very capable off-pavement and more than a match for unimproved roads as well as inclement weather.
4Matic also was put to good use at our test track where we got instant traction off the line, and bolted to 60 in sports car-like 6.1-seconds. Through the quarter mile, the GLK revs like a 4-cylinder and growls like a V8 as it hits 97 miles-per-hour at the end of the quarter-mile in 14.6-seconds. There’s power-a-plenty and the 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters makes good use of it with quick and firm shifts throughout, with third gear being the real workhorse. Electro-mechanical steering is also new to the GLK and requires significantly less effort than before. Still, we found it a little sluggish to respond and a tad vague, which only worsens the very truck-like feel. Brakes however, were more car-like with a firm pedal and short travel, bringing us down from 60 in a good average of 129-feet.
You’ll need a little bit of disposable income to put a GLK in your driveway, as pricing starts at $37,965. 4MATIC all-wheel-drive adds another 2-grand, and like most German rides, options can quickly escalate that number.
If you’ve spent any time at the horse track, you know that hitting a trifecta is not easy. But, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350, with more features, more power, and better fuel economy, is indeed a winning ticket.
Torque: 273 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.6 seconds @ 97 mph
EPA: 19 mpg city/ 24 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 15.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.0 tons/yr