2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Reviews and Ratings

Utility 4D GLK350 AWD V6

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2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
New Car Test Drive

Introduction
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a line of small luxury crossover SUVs with fresh design and upscale features you'd expect from the German brand. Although it's not the roomiest of the class, the GLK-Class has refined driving dynamics and a distinct personality all its own.

Sharing its unit-body chassis with the C-Class compact sedan, the GLK-Class is a crossover SUV. Its four-wheel independent suspension with McPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear is the stuff of cars, and it's perfectly suited to the GLK-Class.

The current-generation Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class was refreshed for the 2013 model year. For 2014, the GLK-Class carries over mostly unchanged, save for a few color, package and option changes.

Introduced late last year, the newest GLK-Class variant is the GLK250 Bluetec, which uses a four-cylinder diesel engine designed to meet strict U.S. emissions regulations. The 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel is rated 190 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, which kicks in between 1600 and 1800 rpm. The GLK250 comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive. For road trips and long freeway commutes, we're a fan of the clean-diesel engine, which offers plenty of range and low-end grunt and an EPA-estimated 24/33 mpg City/Highway, making it the most efficient of the GLK-Class.

The 2014 GLK350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct fuel injection, rated at 268 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 2000-5000 rpm. It's available with rear-wheel drive (2WD) or Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive. Fuel economy estimates for the 2014 GLK350 are 18/25 mpg City/Highway and 19/25 mpg City/Highway on 4Matic versions. Premium unleaded gasoline is required for both versions.

There's no mistaking the 2014 GLK-Class for anything but a Mercedes-Benz. Bold bumpers, headlights and front end all bear a clear family resemblance, complete with the giant three-point star integrated into the front grille. Design features are reminiscent of the GL-Class full-size SUV, including the sharp crease along the sides of the hood.

Inside is an attractive, functional cabin with a design and materials that are improved over previous generations. Large air vents have are stylish and easy to aim. We found the standard vinyl upholstery is nice, and very close in look and feel to genuine leather. The driver's seat was comfortable. The rear seats were comfortable for two adults, and a nicely trimmed cargo compartment opens up to a nearly flat space when the rear seatbacks are flipped down.

We found the new GLK350 delightful to drive. It's quick, capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, which is impressive performance, and we found it stable at 95 miles per hour. Handling is crisp and responsive on winding roads, while on the highway it's quiet and comfortable. We felt no fatigue in five hours of driving.

We're also impressed by the GLK250 Bluetec. Though the characteristic ticking of the diesel engine was audible from outside the vehicle and in the cabin at lower speeds, we didn't find it obtrusive. Acceleration is smoother and quieter than one might expect, and the low-end torque typical of diesels didn't disappoint. We'd recommend this variant for freeway commutes and long road trips.

Those considering the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class might also want to look at the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Cadillac SRX, most of which offer more backseat and cargo space than the GLK-Class.

Model Lineup
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class comes in three variants: The GLK350 rear-wheel-drive ($37,480), GLK350 4Matic all-wheel drive ($39,480), and GLK250 BlueTEC ($38,980). GLK350 models are powered by a 3.5-liter V6; the GLK250 is fitted with 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel.

The 2014 GLK-Class comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, MB-Tex vinyl upholstery, eight-way power adjustable front seats, central controller with 5.8-inch color display, 4.5-inch color instrument cluster display, trip computer, three-spoke multifunction premium leather steering wheel with shift paddles, tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control, automatic headlamps with twilight sensor and locator lighting, intermittent wipers, rear-window intermittent wiper and washer, 6-speaker sound system with auxiliary input, single CD player with MP3 capability, AM/FM radio with weather band, Bluetooth interface for hands-free calling, folding second row seat, rear cargo cover, roof rails, exterior chrome accents and chrome load sill plate, power windows with express up and down, privacy glass, front and rear cupholders.

Options include the Leather Package ($1,850), which upgrades to leather upholstery plus front passenger-seat memory and comfort headrests; the Premium 1 Package ($3,450) includes a sunroof, power liftgate, driver memory for power seat settings, four-way lumbar support for driver's seat, power tilt/telescope steering column, with four-way iPod/MP3 interface, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, 115-volt AC outlet in cargo area, integrated garage door opener, compass in rearview mirror. An Appearance Package ($990) substitutes 20-inch wheels and aluminum roof rails. The Sport Package ($1,990) adds AMG exterior styling, LED daytime running lamps, aluminum roof rails, 19-inch AMG wheels on the GLK250 Bluetec model and 20-inch AMG wheels on GLK350 models. A Multimedia Package ($2,860), adds Mercedes-Bennz's COMAND interface, navigation and a rearview camera.

Standalone options include heated front seats ($750); Keyless Go ($650); harman/kardon premium audio ($850); Parktronic with Active Park Assist ($970); trailer hitch ($575); brushed aluminum running boards with rubber studs ($670) and heated steering wheel ($225). All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices, which do not include $925 destination charge and may change at any time without notice.

Safety features include dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags, driver and passenger side-impact airbags, driver and passenger pelvic airbags, window curtain airbags for front and rear, driver kneebag, active front head restraints, adaptive brakes with Hold feature, Hill Start Assist, precharging, ABS, Electronic Stability Program with Trailer Stability Assist and Brake Assist.

Optional safety features include a rearview camera, lane keeping assist and blind spot assist.

Walkaround
There's no mistaking the 2014 GLK-Class for a Mercedes-Benz. Especially with the giant three-pointed star integrated into the front grille, which leaves no room for doubt. But even without the badge, the family resemblance is clear. Bold bumpers, headlights and crisp lines echo the GL-Class full-size SUV, including the sharp crease along the sides of the hood. The exterior design is quite handsome, though it may not attract as much attention as does the GL-Class or the M-Class.

Measuring 178.3 inches in overall length (14.8 feet), the GLK-Class is nearly 11 inches shorter than the Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport-utility. The GLK-Class is also four inches shorter than the BMW X3 and five inches shorter than the Acura RDX, two of its primary competitors (the Lexus RX is significantly larger, the Range Rover Evoque is significantly smaller).

The GLK-Class rides on a 108.5-inch wheelbase, which is three inches longer than that of the Acura RDX, two inches shorter than that of the BMW X3. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear wheels, and a longer wheelbase tends to allow a smoother ride and greater high-speed stability than a shorter wheelbase. In terms of width and height, the GLK-Class is comparable to the X3 and RDX.

The GLK350 4MATIC weighs 4,079 pounds, which is significantly lighter than the 4,222-pound BMW X3 Xdrive35i. The 2014 RDX AWD is the lightest of the three at 3,852 pounds. GLK350 weighs 4,012 pounds with rear-wheel drive, so 4MATIC is not costly in terms of weight.

An AMG appearance package is available featuring special exterior trim. We're not sure the AMG trim improves the appearance, however. Also, the sporty-looking mini running boards with rubber nubs serve to dirty pants legs more than aid stepping in and out; we recommend them only for drivers of the smallest stature. Interior
This generation of GLK-Class is much improved over previous incarnations. The dash looks elegant, and our test car had handsome burl walnut wood trim sweeping across its width (though there's a bit too much of it front of the passenger for our taste). Big round vents are easy to aim and control.

The standard MB-Tex upholstery looks more like leather than vinyl, and we were perfectly happy with it. The MB-Tex comes in black, almond/beige, or gray. Optional leather comes in black, mocha, and almond.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive. We spent five hours in them in one day, and 90 minutes or so the day before and the day after, and we never tired of them.

Back seats are comfortable for two adults but not three. The GLK-Class seats up to five, but it's better with four.

Interior materials are attractive, with double stitching on some of the trim and flashes of aluminum that give it an upscale feel. The steering wheel feels and looks great. From a more practical standpoint, we wonder whether the rolltop lid that covers the center console compartment will become a gathering place for crumbs and dust. Also, the climate controls site at the bottom of the center stack and seem very far down there visually while driving.

The GLK-Class is loaded with technology, including Mercedes-Benz's mbrace2 connectivity system. One of many features it offers is notification to your smartphone while you're dining, should a shady valet take your car for a joy ride.

On vehicles fitted with the Comand interface and navigation, we found the system worked well, but it took some getting used to. Its mapping fell short in rural and remote areas, however, telling us we were in uncharted territory.

The cargo compartment is trimmed nicely and the rear seats fold down almost perfectly flat. The rear seats are split 60/40 for flexibility with cargo and passengers. However, the GLK-Class doesn't offer as much space as many competitors

The optional power liftgate can be opened by waving a foot under the rear bumper, a nice feature when carrying an armload of groceries. A 115-volt AC outlet delivers house current to the cargo area, a useful feature for charging laptops, powering hand tools or running accessories when camping or tailgating. Driving Impressions
We've driven all variants of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class and found them to be delightful, whether on winding roads or open highways. They're easy to drive, smooth and well-controlled, not floaty (like a Lexus RX, for example). They also feel stable at high speeds; our co-driver felt sufficiently comfortable to cruise at 95 mph on a winding Interstate through West Virginia while carrying on a conversation.

Handling is responsive, and because of its sedan-based architecture, the GLK-Class drives like a car with a slightly higher seating position, which is why crossovers have become such compelling choices over traditional body-on-frame SUVs. We had no issues with the feel or responsiveness of the electromechanical steering, and we found the brakes easy to modulate for smooth, precise stops. Wind and road noise are well muted.

The GLK350 delivers plenty of power, and arguably leads the class in terms of acceleration performance. The GLK350 4MATIC goes from 0-60 mph in just 6.4 seconds according to Mercedes-Benz North America. It's 3.5-liter V6 makes 302 hp at and 273 pound-feet of torque. That's more than the Acura RDX with its 3.5-liter V6 that makes 273 horsepower 251 lb.-ft. of torque, as well as the comparably priced BMW X3 xDrive28i, with its inline-6 that makes 240 hp 221 lb.-ft. The turbocharged X3 xDrive35i delivers 300 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of torque at 1300-5000 rpm, but its base price is more than the GLK350.

The 7-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. We felt no need to use the semi-manual shifting features. We put it in Drive and it shifted up and down smoothly and correctly on winding roads peppered with elevation changes.

Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive system improves traction and stability in slippery conditions. It's not only good for snow and ice, but also for wet pavement or on unpaved roads.

Despite gas-saving technology like a stop/start function, fuel economy falls a bit short for the 2014 GLK350 with 18/25 mpg on 2WD versions and City/Highway and 19/25 mpg City/Highway with all-wheel-drive. By comparison, the Acura RDX AWD gets an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg, while the BMW X3 is EPA-rated at 19/26 mpg.

Most efficient is the GLK250 Bluetec diesel. Introduced late in the 2013 model year, it uses a four-cylinder diesel engine designed to meet strict U.S. emissions regulations. The 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel is rated 190 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, which kicks in low between 1600 and 1800 rpm. It's mated to the same 7-speed automatic as the GLK350 and comes only with 4Matic all-wheel drive.

For road trips and long freeway commutes, we're a fan of the GLK250's clean-diesel engine, which offers plenty of range and low-end grunt and an EPA-estimated 24/33 mpg City/Highway, making it the most fuel-friendly choice of the GLK-Class lineup.

Though the characteristic ticking of the diesel engine was audible from outside the vehicle and in the cabin at lower speeds, we didn't find it obtrusive. Acceleration is smoother and quieter than one might expect, and the low-end torque typical of diesels didn't disappoint.

Several tire and wheel sizes are available on the GLK-Class. We couldn't tell much difference on the road in ride quality, feel or handling between the 19-inch and 20-inch sizes. Clearly, the engineers did a great job with suspension tuning and tire choices.

A number of safety features come standard or optional on the GLK-Class. Attention Assist can alert a drowsy driver with an audible alert and a warning message on the dash and a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster. It's a good feature, though the cars we drove always seemed to be displaying the coffee cup icon. Blind Spot Assist warns the driver another vehicle is alongside whenever the turn signals are used; Active Blind Spot Assist actually corrects the driver's input if he or she tries to steer a car in the adjoining lane. Lane Keeping Assist vibrates the steering wheel when the driver drifts out of his or her lane. Active Lane Keeping Assist adds an intervention feature, correcting the car's course if the driver doesn't heed the initial warning.

Parking is made easy with the optional backup camera and audible sensors to help drivers avoid obstacles while parking. For those who want the car to park itself, the Active Parking Assist will steer the car automatically into a parallel parking spot; the driver just works the gas and brakes. Summary
The 2014 GLK-Class is a refined vehicle that's practical and easy to use. It's comfortable for four and can haul a moderate amount of cargo, but falls a bit short on backseat and cargo space. For best fuel efficiency, opt for the GLK250 Bluetec diesel.

NewCarTestDrive.com editor Mitch McCullough and correspondent Laura Burstein contributed to this report.

Model as tested
Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC ($39,480)
Basic Warranty
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in
Bremen, Germany
Destination charge
925
Gas guzzler tax
N/A
Base Price
37480
Price as tested
51755
Options as tested
Premium 1 Package ($3,450) includes autodimming mirrors, driver memory, 4-way driver lumbar support, power tilt/telescoping steering column, power liftgate, iPod/MP3 Media Interface, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Panorama sunroof, 115V AC power outlet, integrated garage door opener, compass in rearview mirror; Leather Package ($1,850), includes leather upholstery plus front passenger-seat memory and comfort headrests; Appearance Package ($990) includes 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, brushed aluminum roof rails; Multimedia Package ($2,860), adds Mercedes-Bennz's COMAND interface, navigation and a rearview camera; Lane Tracking Package ($875), includes lane keeping assist and blind spot assist ; heated front seats ($750); trailer hitch ($575)

Model Line Overview
Model lineup
Mercedes-Benz GLK350 2WD ($37,480); GLK350 4Matic AWD ($39,480); GLK250 BlueTEC diesel 4Matic AWD ($38,980)
Safety equipment (standard)
dual-stage driver and front-passenger airbags, driver and passenger side-impact airbags, driver and passenger pelvic airbags, window curtain airbags for front and rear, driver kneebag, active front head restraints, rear-door child safety locks, LATCH system, top tether anchors for child seats, Attention Assist, mbrace2, adaptive brakes with Hold feature, brake drying, Hill Start Assist, precharging, ABS, Electronic Stability Program with Trailer Stability Assist, Brake Assist, tire pressure monitor
Safety equipment (optional)
N/A
Engines
3.5-liter dohc 24v V6
Transmissions
7-speed automatic

Specifications as Tested
dual-zone automatic climate control with dust filter, MB-Tex upholstery, eight-way power adjustable front seats, Burl Walnut Wood Trim, central controller with 5.8-inch color display, 4.5-inch color instrument cluster display, trip computer, three-spoke multifunction premium leather steering wheel with shift paddles, tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control, automatic headlamps with twilight sensor and locator lighting, intermittent wipers, rear-window intermittent wiper and washer, 6-speaker sound system with auxiliary input, single CD player with MP3 capability, AM/FM radio with weather band, Bluetooth interface for hands-free calling, folding second row seat, rear cargo cover, roof rails, exterior chrome accents and chrome load sill plate, power windows with express up and down, privacy glass, front and rear cupholders

Engine & Transmission
Engine
3.5-liter dohc 24v V6
Drivetrain type
four-wheel drive
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
302 @ 6500
Transmission
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy
16/21
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm)
N/A

Suspension
Brakes, front/rear
disc/disc with ABS, Brake Assist
Suspension, front
independent, McPherson struts with two-piece lower control arm, coil springs, gas shocks, stabilizer bar
Tires
235/50R19
Suspension, rear
independent, multi-link with coil springs, gas shocks, stabilizer bar

Accomodations
Seating capacity
5
Head/hip/leg room, middle
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, front
39.0/53.2/41.4
Head/hip/leg room, rear
39.7/52.5/35.1

Measurements
Fuel capacity
N/A
Trunk volume
54.700000000000003
Wheelbase
108.5
Length/width/height
178.3/74.3/66.9
Turning circle
37.7
Payload
N/A
Towing capacity
3500
Track, front/rear
60.1/62.5
Ground clearance
7.9000000000000004
Curb weight
4079

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