The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class may be one of the least expensive models the German company produces, but you wouldn't suspect that by the way this small crossover looks, feels and drives. Close one of the doors or drive over a set of railroad tracks and you can't help but feel the sense of over-engineered solidity that permeates every inch of this compact luxury SUV. Indeed, it's this innate Benz quality that sets the GLK apart from the other crossovers in its class.
However, there are now more competitors in this class than ever before. Most match the GLK in terms of available equipment and performance, yet also offer a roomier backseat and cargo area. As such, the GLK probably isn't the most family-friendly choice. Even so, that unmistakable Mercedes-Benz engineering and craftsmanship makes the GLK-Class worth a look.
Current Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a five-passenger premium crossover SUV offered in two trim levels: the gasoline-powered GLK350 and the diesel GLK250 Bluetec variant.
The GLK350 is powered by Mercedes' familiar 3.5-liter V6 that develops 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. The GLK250 Bluetec utilizes a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 200 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, along with the seven-speed automatic. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is optional on the GLK350 and standard on the GLK250 Bluetec.
GLKs come standard with dual-zone climate control, power front seats, leatherette upholstery, Bluetooth and a six-speaker audio system. Optional luxuries include a panoramic sunroof, a navigation system, a rearview camera and a premium surround-sound audio system. Buyers can also opt for rear-seat DVD entertainment, full leather seating, bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors and a multitude of cosmetic appearance options.
Drive the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 back to back with a C350 sedan and you're bound to notice similarities. The steering feel and ride quality are remarkably similar, and the GLK's interior has many identical controls. Both have impressive materials and fit and finish. To go along with its blocky exterior styling, however, the look of the GLK's interior is more austere and upright. In back, rear seat space is surprisingly good for two adults, though getting in and out can be a squeeze. Maximum cargo capacity is noticeably less than what's provided by most other luxury competitors.
On the road, the GLK's V6 delivers smooth and snappy performance, with 0-60-mph sprints right at the 6-second mark. While not the equal of more agile rivals like the BMW X3 or Infiniti EX35, the GLK350's handling is certainly capable and confidence-inspiring around corners. The GLK250 Bluetec brings the segment's first diesel engine and takes about 2 seconds longer to hit 60 mph. The obvious trade-off is significantly increased fuel economy: The Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec is rated at 28 mpg combined, versus 21 combined for the GLK350 4Matic.
The GLK's ride is firm in typical Germanic fashion, but it absorbs rutted bumps easily and masters even rough highways without the slightest hint of harshness or chatter. In such conditions, the cabin remains impressively quiet, with very little wind or road noise.
Used Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Models
The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class was introduced for 2010. In that first year, the GLK lacked the current car's driver's knee and front side hip airbags. The AMG Sport package was also not available. The 2013 model year saw the debut of the GLK250 Bluetec diesel, along with an increase in the V6's power output (previously 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque) and improved fuel economy. Other changes that year included a slight styling update inside and out, an automatic stop-start system (that turns off the engine when the vehicle stops to save fuel) and enhanced electronics and infotainment features.