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Mercedes Benz GLK350 (2013)

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The GLK350 is Mercedes Benz entry-level, C-class–based crossover, or cute-ute as some call it. Sales numbers have been very good in Texas because this is a good vehicle for the Texas lifestyle. I really enjoyed my week with the GLK because it has a roomy interior, has plenty of power, and was not too big for zipping around in traffic.

The GLK debuted in 2010, so it was scheduled for a freshening up this year. Mercedes Benz has listened to their customers and put a lot of focus on the interior, including soft touch trim panels, dash, and electronic upgrades.

While there are no bad Mercedes, I think that the company has hit this one out of the park and leaped over Lexus and BMW in this very competitive Mid Size Luxury SUV segment.

About 10 inches shorter than the M-Class, the GLK is also a few inches shorter than its primary competition – the Lexus RX as well as the BMW X3 and the Land Rover LR2. In sharp contrast to the relatively soft shapes of other similar vehicles, the striking, angular nose of the GLK sets it apart from the competition. From its steeply raked windshield to the integrated rear spoiler on its tightly styled roof section, the aggressive shape of the GLK stands out.

For 2013, the GLK350 gets a restyled interior with new Direct Select gear lever,new air vents, color instrument cluster display, and ambient lighting. The base audio system has been upgraded, and there’s an option for an iPad docking station. The GLK’s restyled exterior includes new headlight and bumper design and LED daytime running lights and taillights.

The 2013-model GLK is equipped with a new direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine with 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, an innovative ECO Start/Stop system, a more fuel-efficient seven-speed automatic transmission with Direct Select, and electromechanical steering.

The GLK is one of the most fun to drive members of the Mercedes SUV family. With available 4MATIC full-time four-wheel drive and respectable ground clearance for off-road driving, its optional integrated running boards, roof rack and skid plates emphasize the versatile SUV character of the GLK. EPA fuel economy numbers are 16 city and 23 highway.

A fuel-sipping four-cylinder diesel model, the GLK250 BlueTEC, will arrive early next year and I can not wait to drive it.

A number of hi tech Mercedes-Benz safety features are available for the first time on the GLK, including standard ATTENTION ASSIST and optional DISTRONIC PLUS with PRE-SAFE Braking, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist. The new electrically assisted steering also makes possible optional Active Parking Assist. Another new option, Lane Keeping Assist makes use of a special computer to analyze images from a multi-purpose camera in the windshield to recognize lane markings. This system alerts the driver by simulating rumble strip vibrations in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. A separate option, Active Lane Keeping Assist (as well as Active Blind Spot Assist) incorporates an intervention feature, in which the vehicle’s brakes come on slightly to correct the car’s course if the driver doesn’t pay attention to the initial warning.

Yes, the GLK is loaded with hi tech goodies, but it is still a Mercedes Benz. The seats are amazingly adjustable and comfortable, the vehicle feels solid, was very quiet inside, and handles better than a SUV should.

With a base price of $39,090, it is not cheap by any means. My GLK was the AWD 4Matic model that was loaded up to an MSRP of $58,835 including shipping. This is not a vehicle for everyone, but it is a great vehicle for a small family that is looking for a Mid Size Luxury SUV.

 

Mike Herzing

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