BMW X3 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLK350

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Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

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, Automotive Editor - January 21, 2015

The compact luxury crossover segment is not one where a company can simply rest on its laurels. Vehicles in this segment need to be constantly tweaked to remain competitive.

The Mercedes GLK350 was treated to a comprehensive refresh in 2013 to make it more competitive against its arch-rival, the BMW X3, which has been on the market about twice as long as the GLK.

Is its recently refreshed design enough to keep the GLK350 in the game against the more established BMW?

See a side-by-side comparison of the X3 & GLK350 »

What the BMW X3 Does Right

The BMW X3 in its current form made its first appearance in 2011, and was hailed as a worthy successor to the original. Today, the design still looks fresh, and the X3 still delivers the driving dynamics that a BMW should.

This is enabled by an optional electronically-adjustable suspension and BMW’s standard xDrive all-wheel drive system. Also contributing to the X3’s sporty driving character is a choice of two engines, both turbocharged. A 2-liter four cylinder can achieve a fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway; with a 3-liter inline-six, the X3 zips to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.

Behind the fat-rimmed steering wheel, the driver enjoys a commanding view of the road, as well as an 8.8-inch infotainment display controlled by BMW’s iDrive system. Now in its fourth generation, iDrive minimizes button clutter and provides a centralized control for many of the X3’s interior features.

What the Mercedes GLK350 Does Right

The GLK350 is the smallest crossover in the Mercedes lineup, and retains a more traditional two-box shape in a segment where many vehicles have adopted more curvaceous styling. The GLK also comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that beats BMW’s inline-6 by 2 horsepower; though, unlike the X3, the GLK's all-wheel-drive system is merely an option.

The interior of the GLK350 sports a refined steering wheel and round air vents. Unlike the X3’s driver-selectable system, the GLK’s active suspension works automatically in the background to give both good handling feedback and a comfortable, composed ride.

Was the 2013 Refresh Enough to Put the GLK in the Lead?

In a word, no. The recent refresh did work to correct many of the GLK’s flaws -- its drab interior, for instance -- but in many ways, it didn't go quite far enough. While improved, the interior design still seems uninspired. Some features that come standard in the BMW, such as a power liftgate and all-wheel drive, are pricey options on the GLK. Although the GLK is pleasant to drive, it lacks some of the excitement that the BMW provides.

Our Verdict: BMW X3

We’re more attracted to the X3’s sporting character -- the GLK350 still feels dated, despite its recent refresh.

Take a closer look at the BMW X3 »

Take a closer look at the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

Follow On: Google+ | Website