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 latest model year that includes a more potent engine, a restyled exterior and the refined, upscale cabin it should have had from day one.
Outside, the blocky look of the outgoing model is tempered 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.
Even more substantial are the changes to interior, which trades boxy, 1980s-inspired styling for a much more elegant design. The dashboard is now characterized by a wide swath of wood with inset circular vents, the steering wheel is a new three-spoke unit and the buttons on the center console have been rearranged in a more ergonomic fashion. The previously console-mounted shift lever migrates to the steering column, making it easier to access secondary controls on the center stack.
Twenty-three cubic feet of cargo space is available behind the second-row seats; fold down the rear thrones, and that number increases to 54.7 cubic inches.
Under the hood, the GLK now features Mercedes' direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. This motor uses boasts an ECO stop/start system for improved fuel economy. Rear-wheel-drive comes standard, while 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is available as an option. The sole transmission is a seven-speed automatic.
The EPA rates the RWD GLK at 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while the AWD model returns 19/24 mpg.
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 bodykit, AMG LED daytime running lamps, aluminum roof rails and 20-inch AMG five-spoke alloy wheels.
Finally, the Multimedia package brings a rearview camera, enhanced voice control and COMAND with hard-drive navigation.
The GLK comes standard with dual front, front pelvic, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's 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.
The GLK-Class is up against a decent assortment of smaller SUVs and crossovers, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Infiniti EX35 and Volvo XC60.