Reviews

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Walk Around

The Mercedes-Benz GLK was restyled for 2013. Key dimensions, including overall length, width, height, and wheelbase and track are unchanged from 2011, however.

Bolder bumpers, new headlights, and a new grille highlight the changes for 2013. The crisp lines of the 2013 GLK parrot some of the design features of the all-new 2013 GL-Class full-size SUV, including the sharp crease along the sides of the hood. The new exterior design freshens the looks of the 2013 GLK and it's quite handsome, though it may not attract as much attention as does the new M-Class (all-new for 2012) or the new GL-Class (all-new for 2013). Some observers have tried to link the GLK to the boxy G-Class Gelandewagen off-road SUV, but we can't see it.

The GLK looks like a Mercedes-Benz and there's no mistaking it for anything but a Mercedes-Benz, even if the big three-pointed star in the center of the grille was removed. The shape of the grille and headlights, the upright and angular lines all say Mercedes-Benz.

Measuring 178.3 inches in overall length (14.8 feet), the GLK is four inches shorter than the BMW X3, five inches shorter than the all-new 2013 Acura RDX. The BMW X3 and Acura RDX are its primary competition. The Lexus RX is significantly larger, the Range Rover Evoque is significantly smaller, the Land Rover LR2 and Infiniti EX are dated designs, and the Audi Q3 is not available in the U.S. The GLK is nearly 11 inches shorter than the M-Class sport-utility.

The GLK 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 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 2013 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.

Sharing its unit-body chassis with the C-Class compact sedan, the GLK 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.

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

The interior of the GLK is dramatically improved for the 2013 model year. The dash looks more elegant than that of the pre-2013 GLK, handsome burl walnut wood trim sweeping across its width in place of the previous modular appearance. Big round vents replace the previous square vents, and the new ones 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. The optional leather is very nice and comes in black, mocha, and almond.

The 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.

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

The 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. Burl walnut wood trim comes standard and it looks good, though there's a bit too much of it front of the passenger for our taste. 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, though the seams on this one are impressively tight. The HVAC controls are at the bottom of the center stack and they seem way down there visually while driving.

The GLK is loaded with technology, including mbrace2 connectivity, which is intended to simplify our lives. 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.

The navigation system worked well, once we became familiar with it. 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.

The power liftgate (optional) can be opened by waving your 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.

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