2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK Review

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK - The more-powerful 2013 Mercees-Benz GLK350 compact luxury crossover is mainly for singles, couples without kids or those who rarely carry rear occupants


Prices: $37,090-$39,090

Mercedes gained ground in the prestige market here against Cadillac in the 1970s, although its seats and ride were too stiff for many Americans accustomed to cushy U.S. luxury cars.

But that seems like an eternity ago, and Mercedes vehicles such as its new compact GLK350 crossover fit nicely into the growing luxury crossover market here.

The new GLK350 has a list price of $37,090 with rear-wheel drive and $39,090 with Mercedes' advanced "4Matic" all-wheel drive. Those are reasonable prices for such a Mercedes with lots of comfort and convenience items, such as dual-zone automatic climate control and power everything.

However, this model's option packages aren't cheap. My 2013 test GLK350 4-Matic had a $3,450 package with a panoramic sunroof and power hatch and a $2,790 Multimedia Package with such items as a rear-vision camera for safer backing up.

Standard safety items include electronic stability system and an electronic traction system-besides a bunch of air bags.

The new GLK350 now has a 305-horsepower direct-injection V-6, which gains 34 horsepower from 2012. Also new are updated styling, a more-elegant interior, revised power steering and more standard and optional items.

The 0-60 mph time improves slightly to 6.4 seconds, and there's always plenty of power on hand. I imagine that sustained autobahn cruising at 100 mph is no sweat. A diesel model with 190-horsepower, but gobs of torque, comes later in 2013.

Fuel economy is moderately good for the gas-engine GLK350 that weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. A smooth, responsive 7-speed automatic transmission helps fuel economy but can only help so much.

Estimated economy is 19 mpg in the city and 25 on highways with rear-drive and 19 and 24 with all-wheel drive.

The front cabin of the GLK350 is roomy, with nicely shaped dual power seats that provide good support. But the rear-seat area is tight, and narrow rear doorways make for awkward entry and exit.

Occupants sit high for a good view, and a low floor makes it easy to slide in or out-at least in the front. Large folding outside mirrors appreciably enhance driver visibility.

The GLK is mainly for singles or young families without kids or for folks who rarely carry rear-seat occupants.

Mercedes models traditionally had rather stark "no-nonsense" interiors. For a long time, the automaker even felt that cupholders were silly. But it learned that Americans like their comforts. The new GLK350 thus has a quiet, upgraded interior with more upscale materials, including burl walnut wood trim.

However, there are too many small radio buttons, and it takes some time to get used to the electronic controls.

The rather odd tiny gearshift control stalk near the steering wheel saves front space but can be tricky to operate in a hurry.

The steering is quick, controlled by an easily gripped thick adjustable wheel. The supple, all-independent suspension initially may feel a bit firm. But it easily soaks up nasty bumps, while providing a good ride and fairly agile handling. Strong anti-lock brakes with an assist system are controlled by a pedal with a nice linear action.

Front doors pockets are useful, and there's a deep covered console bin. But the small rear door pockets are mostly useless, and the plastic cupholders that pop out from the rear center fold-down armrest seem cheap. Front console cupholders are deep and nicely positioned to avoid spills.

There's a decent, if not overly generous, cargo area. And rear seatbacks fold flat to increase cargo space. While wide, the cargo opening is somewhat high if you must load heavy or awkward objects.

The padded hood opens on twin hydraulic struts, but a huge plastic cover conceals the engine.

The GLK350 manages to retain its distinctive Mercedes "feel," while giving Americans more of what they want.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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