For 2013 the Mercedes Benz GLK 350 SUV breaks the mould by virtue of its unique styling. Whereas before the common perception of a Mercedes SUV was a slab sided and generic looking vehicle, I must say a welcome change has come. A recent 2013 test model that came my way looked very different. First off is the long sporty hood and swoopy fenders that lend an air of dynamic urgency to the front visage. New headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new bumper and grille set off the aggressive front grille with the trademark Mercedes logo. Also cool is the looks like a chrome push bar under the front that comes is part of the standard AMG Sport Package. In dark metallic color or black the result is a chic expensive looking slice of prime German engineering. With the large window greenhouse, the side profile is very striking with enough chrome accents to set off our dark metallic gray tester with its 20″ inch five twin-spoke wheels, rear LED taillights and chrome tailpipe trim.
The GLK 350 is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 producing 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission. Soon to be available is an optional GLK 250 BlueTEC version with a 2.1-litre turbodiesel unit with 190 horsepower and a very impressive 369 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes claims the 2013 GLK 350’s fuel efficiency is 15 percent better than the outgoing model, and the turbo diesel powered BlueTEC model scheduled for release next year should provide even better fuel economy. The famed Mercedes 4MATIC all-time all-wheel drive system is standard issue on the GLK350.
The interior of the GLK is as impressive as the exterior with aluminum as standard or a choice of either Burl Walnut or Black Ash wood which covers the doors, and dashboard. Standout features for me was the cool aluminum trim on our tester which extensively covered the dash panel and feels like real metal not plastic. I am also a huge fan of the cool aircraft style large circular “eyeball’ air vents that enable you to direct hot or cold air exactly where you want not just in pre-set positions. It just such a clever and effective system.
Other interior features include a new three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles and a bright colour display within the gauge cluster that shows trip computer and COMAND functions accessed via the mouse type controller mounted on the center console.
The gear shift is mounted on the steering column so freeing up extra compartments and cubby hole in the floor center space that comes with neat rill top cover. LED fibre optic lighting is optional. The seats are superbly comfortable MB-Tex (simulated leather) standard with leather seating as an option. Head room legroom and shoulder room are all good in both front and rear and the large windows mean visibility and a light bright airy cabin is much appreciated.
A full suite of creature comforts is available as standard including power windows, door locks, air conditioning, heated seats, power sunroof and mirrors. Driver assist Technology aids are well catered for in the GLK 350 with a comprehensive assortment provide or available as options including: Acceleration Skid Control, ABS, AGILITY CONTROL suspension, hill start assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, PARKTRONIC, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, adaptive Highbeam assist and passive lane keeping assist. Needless to say theses aids will not make you a better drive, but will assist in keeping you safer than in most vehicles. Airbag technology consists of nine airbags head in the front, front sides, front pelvic, driver’s knee and full window curtain airbags. In addition NECK-PRO active head restraints help prevent whiplash in rear-end crashes.
On the road, the first thing one notices is the new for 2013 is ECO Start/Stop function as standard on the GLK 350. It shuts the engine down to save fuel when you come to a complete stop, for example at a traffic lights and then restarts instantly when the accelerator is pressed. You can switch the start/stop function off manually if need be. This is an excellent feature for saving both gas and the environment.
The 3.5L direct injection V6, which powers the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC produces a creditable 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque and the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission does a good job in ensuring the power is transmitted smoothly and without drama to all four wheels.
The GLK’s ride quality is very good with a decent turn of speed and little body roll no matter how hard it is pushed in normal driving. The engineering making up the standard multi-link AGILITY CONTROL suspension system with selective damping allows for a forgiving yet firm ride and predictable road manners. The 4MATIC, Benz’ all-wheel-drive system allows for a competent mild rough trail use and in snow, rain and low traction situations. Steering is well weighted courtesy of Mercedes-Benz’s Steer Control Electric Power Steering and the GLK is most car-like in it handling with sharp, precise steering and a light comfortable driving experience.
The GLK 350 looks very attractive with a base pricing starting at $44,900. However as usual this soon start to go North with the obvious options and packages most buyers opt. You can easily go toward the 55 or 60 grand mark for a fully loaded model with all the options.
Still the option and tremendous safety and driver aid technology is well worth it in my opinion of you plan to use the GLK 350 for family use. Although small than its ML cousins the GLK has the same standards of luxury, performance and safety. Let not forget the V6 is also pretty thrifty and Mercedes do hold their resale value exceptionally well. The new GLK for my money is well worth considering if you are downsizing from a bigger Mercedes SUV or looking to get into th MB brand with its trademark superb engineering, quality and comfort. The three pointed star on the sleek front end should bring a smile to your face every time you see it parked in the driveway. Highly recommended. Autoreview by Veeno Dewan
2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 350 priced from $44,900