Despite the success of the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz avoided the popular compact SUV segment for as long as it could. It wasn't until 2010 -- six model years after the X3 debuted -- that Mercedes chose to release its first compact crossover: the GLK-Class.
Mercedes-Benz tested the market with the GLK350 and a 4MATIC variant. After enjoying relative success, the German automaker expanded the lineup with the introduction of a diesel-powered GLK250 BlueTEC in 2013.
The GLK350 carries into 2014 with no changes at all.
The GLK350's squared-off lines might not be exciting -- but they're functional. The low hood improves a driver's forward vision, and the high roofline provides ample headroom, particularly for rear-seat passengers.
The GLK350's interior is nothing short of luxurious, with a 14-way power driver seat and four-way power passenger seat offering up plenty of comfortable positions for both front seat occupants. The cabin is cool and refined, with its burl walnut trimming, aluminum-surrounded vents, leather-wrapped steering wheel and standard MB-Tex upholstery -- some buyers may expect leather at this price point, but MB-Tex is a durable and supple alternative to tanned cow hide.
Under the Hood
The GLK350's uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine that churns out 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels in standard GLK350s, but 4MATIC all-wheel drive is an available option.
This driveline combines with an automatic start/stop system to deliver 19 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined in rear-wheel drive models. With 4MATIC installed, the highway economy drops to 24 mpg, but the other figures remain the same.
The combination of comfort and performance in the GLK350 is about as perfect as one can expect from a compact crossover SUV -- it tackles twists with ease and absorbs small road defects without attracting a passenger's notice. According the Mercedes-Benz, a GLK350 can hit 60 mph in a few as 6.4 seconds.
The GLK350 comes in only a single trim level and that's all it really needs, as it features premium amenities like a six-speaker audio system, a 14-way power driver seat, an integrated garage door opener, LED taillights , a 4.5-inch color display and a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 302 horsepower. Additionally, there are numerous packages to choose from, like the Premium 1 Package, which adds a panorama roof, a power liftgate, SiriusXM and a compass, or the Leather Package that wraps you up in leather seats and adds memory to the passenger seat. For buyers who like a sportier look, the optional Sport Package adds AMG styling to the body, a set of 20-inch AMG wheels and aluminum roof rails.
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