2015 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a compact luxury crossover based on the C-Class sedan. The GLK was given a comprehensive mid-cycle update for the previous model year that included a more potent gasoline V6, a restyled exterior and the refined, upscale cabin it should have had from day one.

Mercedes also recently introduced an efficient, diesel-burning GLK250 BlueTEC model to the lineup.

Outside, the blocky look of the outgoing model was tempered as part of the recent facelift by softer details including curvier headlights, a more rounded front grille and new taillamps. The lower front fascia now includes the de rigueur LED running lights, while imitation skidplates front and rear give the GLK a more traditional SUV look.

The GLK's elegant cabin is highlighted by a dashboard with an expansive swath of wood and inset circular vents, a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and a spacious cargo area. Twenty-three cubic feet of stowage space is available behind the second-row seats; fold down the rear thrones, and that number increases to 54.7 cubic inches.

The crossover comes standard with Mercedes' COMAND infotainment system, which features a 5.8-inch display screen allows users to control the crossover's audio, navigation (when equipped) and Bluetooth-based connectivity systems through voice commands, a central knob or steering wheel-mounted buttons.

An available mbrace system adds a host of cloud-based goodies, including a concierge service, location-based traffic and weather updates, stolen vehicle location assistance, automatic collision notification and more. Available apps add internet browsing, Google local search with street view, Yelp reviews, Facebook access and news reports. Owners can even use an mbrace smartphone app to remotely lock, unlock or locate their GLK.

Under the hood, the entry-level GLK350 features a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. In rear-wheel-drive form, the GLK350 is rated at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the AWD model returns 19/24 mpg.

For slightly more money, buyers can opt for the GLK250 BlueTEC, which is powered by a 2.1-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and an impressive 369 lb-ft of torque. Fitted as standard with AWD, the GLK250 BlueTEC is good for 24/33 mpg.

Both models come standard with a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Standard and Optional Features
The GLK comes well equipped with leatherette upholstery, genuine wood trim, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound systems with an auxiliary input jack, automatic headlamps and more.

Those looking for a more coddling crossover have no shortage of options to choose from.

The Premium 1 package adds autodimming mirrors, a memory driver's seat with four-way lumbar support, a power tilt/telescoping steering column, a power liftgate, an iPod / MP3 Media Interface, SIRIUSXM Satellite Radio, a Panorama sunroof, a 115V AC power outlet, an integrated garage door opener, and a compass mounted in the rear view mirror.

The aptly-named Full Leather Seating package includes leather upholstery (including door panels), front passenger seat memory, comfort headrests and interior ambient lighting. The Lighting Package brings a headlamp cleaning system, adaptive highbeam assist and bi-xenon headlamps with active curve illumination. The sporty AMG Styling package an AMG body kit, AMG LED daytime running lamps, aluminum roof rails and 20-inch AMG five-spoke alloy wheels.

Finally, the Multimedia package brings a rear-view camera, enhanced voice control and COMAND with hard-drive navigation.

Occupant Safety
The GLK comes standard with dual front, front pelvic, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a drivers knee airbag, active front head restraints and traction and stability control systems.

Also standard is an ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.

Optional safety equipment includes the Lane Keeping Assist system, which alerts the driver by simulating a rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. Part of the Lane Tracking Package, it operates at speeds above 37 mph via a system that recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the video images.

The Lane Tracking Package also includes Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind and to the side of the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.

Those looking for even more safety kit can spring for the Driver Assistance package, which adds brake assist plus, active blind spot assist and active lane keeping assist in addition to a radar-based cruise control system.

Key Competitors
The GLK350 is up against a decent assortment of smaller SUVs and crossovers, including the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Acura RDX, the Infiniti QX50 and Volvo XC60.

As a diesel-powered compact luxury crossover, the GLK250 BlueTEC faces competition from only one model: the Audi Q5 TDI.