The GLK has always been the Mercedes-Benz of compact crossovers: rock-solid, soberly styled and thoroughly competent. All of those traditional attributes remain in force for 2013, augmented by a more inviting appearance and the first diesel engine in its class.
While the basic shape of the GLK's exterior remains ruggedly square, its nose now slopes downward for a sleeker, more contemporary look. The attractive new fascia and additional body ornamentation have a considerable impact on the crossover's curb appeal -- it's now instantly recognizable as a luxury vehicle, even without a three-pointed star in the center of the grille. The makeover is subtle: It won't offend buyers who liked the old look, but will appeal to those who might have found it too plain.
The interior receives a makeover of its own, with upgraded finishes, revised instrument panel lighting and graphics, and an abundance of standard wood trim. In fact, the plank of burl walnut that adorns the dash is one of the largest single pieces of wood ever used in any Mercedes -- and looks positively stunning.
Lest you be distracted by its beauty, the GLK offers an Attention Assist system that sounds an alarm when it senses you aren't paying attention to the road. An equally impressive automated parallel parking system is a new option this year.
There's only one area where the GLK might disappoint buyers: 54.7 cubic feet of cargo space is rather stingy for a crossover. Even some tall hatchbacks offer more.
The big news for 2013 is the debut of the only diesel engine in the GLK's segment. The all-new 2.1-liter four-cylinder features dual turbochargers and the latest clean-burning technology. Horsepower comes in at 200, but it's the torque that makes this engine special, all 369 pound-feet of it. That's massive output for an engine of this size, and enables the BlueTEC to scoot from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. The diesel GLK can also tow just as much (3,500 pounds) as the gas V6 model.
Fuel efficiency is the BlueTEC's main strength at 24 mpg city and up to 33 on the highway, which is especially impressive considering the extra weight of standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The BlueTEC carries the same standard equipment as the rest of GLK line such as 19-inch wheels, automatic headlamps, fog lights, LED running lights, dual power front seats in MB-Tex leather-like vinyl, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo-area cover, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with CD and auxiliary audio input.
The popular Premium 1 Package adds a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof, driver seat memory and lumbar adjustments, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a satellite radio, iPod/USB audio compatibility, and a 155-volt power outlet. The leather seating package includes passenger memory, upgraded head restraints and ambient lighting. A number of safety and driver-assist technologies are available in packages or individually.
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