Test Drive: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC

?2013 GLK: Gateway to Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup?

Mercedes-Benz initial entry into the SUV marketplace was the first generation M-Class back in 1997,which was followed in 2001 with the G-Class. In 2005, the second generation M-Class bowed, and 2005 also saw the introduction of the R-Class. The following year, the GL-Class debuted, followed by the introduction of the GLK350 in 2009 as a 2010 model.

The GLK350 was conceived to round out the SUV segment for Mercedes-Benz, providing a right-sized vehicle at the right price. Essentially a gateway vehicle, the 2013 GLK350 is the smallest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz stable, and starts out on the pricing ladder at $37,090 for a rear-wheel drive model, and $39,090 for the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system version. Add $875 for Destination and handling charges. A GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC will join the GLK stable later, with the price yet to be determined.

At first glance, the GLK350 might appear to many, to be a downsized version of the Mercedes-Benz GL models – not so my friends – it more closely resembles a modern, yet smaller version of the G-Class. Mercedes-Benz DNA is readily apparent, starting up front with the iconic trapezoidal grille wearing a prominent circle-star logo in the center of the horizontal two-bar grille. The windshield is more upright, with less rake and with the roofline sloping to the rear, while a strong character line rises toward the chrome beltline trim. Fender flares are integrated both fore and aft, with chrome trim accents drawing them together. An integrated spoiler trails off the edge of the roof and dual rectangular chrome exhaust tips float in a bright rear diffuser. The GLK rides on 19-inch, five-triple-spoke light alloy wheels as standard, with a 20-inch 7-spoke wheel alternative optionally available. Bright, rubber studded running boards are standard fare as is a chrome load sill in the rear and bright finished roof rails. The restyled GLK boasts over 1,000 new parts.

The interior is equally impressive, with a new look and comfortable seating that?s restyled for five adults (as long as the three passengers in the rear are on the diminutive side) and their gear. Both front seats feature 8-way power adjustments. The three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel contains multi-function switches facing sporty, easy-to-read analog gauges, nestled beneath a curved, hooded pod. There is a 5-inch color display for navigation and all basic vehicle functions, positioned at the top of the center stack, which contains?switchgear for redundant functionality. Climate control is an automatic dual zone arrangement. A center console provides split storage access, and the gear?selector has been relocated to the right side of the steering column (more on that later) and the cruise control stalk is positioned further from the directional signal stalk. The leather interior appointments are accented by brushed aluminum finish trim elements. Burl walnut trim accents are also available, as is a 7-inch color display with the Multimedia Package. Standard rear seats fold flat adding to versatility and functionality, and if you run out of cargo capacity inside, there?s always the standard roof rails to resort to.

Two new engines have been added to the GLK?s portfolio: a revised 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve V6 with electronic Direct fuel injection and magnesium two-stage resonance intake manifold that now puts out 302 horses instead of 268. The GLK250 BlueTEC V6 Turbodiesel that will deliver 240 horsepower and 455 pound feet of torque will debut in the first quarter of 2013.

The transmission is an enhanced seven-speed automatic with Touch Shift manual shift control. The engine resides up front in a longitudinal orientation and routes power through the transmission to either the rear wheels or to all four wheels via Mercedes- Benz?s 4MATIC Full-time All-Wheel drive system. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds, with an ESP Trailer Stabilization System. Torque distribution is 45% forward and 55% aft.

?Suspension consists of a four-wheel independent configuration with Agility Control ? an automatic adjusting suspension. Up front are Independent MacPherson struts with two-piece lower control arms, coil springs, gas shocks and stabilizer bar. The rear setup is Multi-link with coil springs, gas shocks and stabilizer bar. Stopping chores are handled by power-assisted four-wheel ventilated discs with a double-circuit master cylinder, vacuum booster, 4-channel ABS, ESP and Brake Assist. The brakes are adaptive featuring Hill Start Assist, Dry Braking and Pre-Pressure application.

In terms of safety features and equipment, there are 6 airbags, ESP, ETS, ABS, BAS, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System and Active front head restraints. The GLK underwent extensive testing to ensure quality and durability in extreme conditions including heat, cold, dust and heavy stop and go traffic. The total testing distance amounted to the equivalent of 600 times around the world, with 100 GLKs crash tested and 12,000 simulation runs that also covered pedestrian protection. Other standard equipment includes All-Season tires, privacy glass,?fog lamps, chrome accents, Bluetooth connectivity and a central controller with a 5-inch display screen.

Option Packages include: a Premium1 Package, an Appearance Package, a Multimedia Package, a Lighting Package, Lane Tracking Package, AMG Styling Package, a Driver Assistance Package and a Full Leather Seating Package. Individual stand alone options include: SIRIUS/XM satellite radio, harman/kardon sound system, iPod/MP3 interface, Parktronic, TeleAid, a Trailer Hitch, brushed aluminum running boards with rubber studs, a rear seat entertainment pre-wiring, Keyless Go, a power panorama sunroof and heated front seats.

My test 2012 GLK350 was a 4MATIC version, with an exterior finished in Steel Grey metallic and the interior in Black MB-Tex with aluminum trim accents. The base price was set at $35,900. The final tally came to $46,345. after adding for options and Destination and Deliver charges. Average pricing range is expected to be between $41,000 and $42,000. My tester was loaded with nearly every option.

SUMMARY: The 2012 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC is not only the right size for many families, it comes in a most attractive package, that is certainly more affordable than other luxury SUVs in the Mercedes-Benz family. In today?s? economy, that?s an issue that can?t be overlooked.

The 3.5-liter V6 provides a satisfying level of performance ? acceleration is healthy, shifting is smooth, and handling characteristics border on sporty, with a positive feedback. The ride quality delivered is on a par with many luxury sedans. The GLK350 is capable of traveling off the beaten path (it is certainly not the serious off-road machine that the G-Wagon is, nor does it cost as much). It is also one of the most efficient SUVs in the Mercedes lineup, delivering 16 mpg in city driving and 21 mpg on the highway ? not bad considering the weight, mass and power. Perhaps not terrific either, in the eyes of many ultra conservative motorists, but hey, you can?t please everyone. The new Direct Injection V6 with auto start/stop function does constitute a conscious improvement. The GLK250 BlueTEC will be more economically ideal when it arrives.

The only issue that I noted is the relocation of the shift lever to the right side of the column, where one would normally find the wiper controls, which prompted many driving the vehicle for the first time to inadvertently shift into Neutral while underway, when really intending to activate the windshield wipers. Not really an issue if living with the GLK every day. Less expensive SUVs, while they may deliver higher mileage ratings, fail to deliver the class and equipment inventory of the new GLK. It is a very nice SUV, with a lot going for it.

SPECIFICATIONS:?Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC-?2013?

Base Price:?????????????? ??????????? $39,090.

Price as Tested:??????????? ??????????? $54,985.

Engine Type and Size:??????????? 3.5-liter DOHC, 24-valve 60-degree V6 with ECO Stop/Start, naturally aspirated, Direct Injection.

Horsepower (bhp):??????????? ??????????? 302??????????? @ 6,500??????????? ??????????? rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):??????????? ??????????? 273??????????? @ 3,500-5,250??????????? rpm

Transmission:??????????? ??????????? Seven-speed Direct Select automatic.

Drive Train:??????????? Longitudinally mounted front engine / Rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC full time All-Wheel Drive system.

Suspension:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Four-wheel independent with coil springs, gas shocks ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? and stabilizer bars with AGILITY CONTROL.

Front – MacPherson struts with two-piece lower ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? control arm.

??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Rear – Multi-link.

Brakes:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Power-assisted, four-wheel ventilated discs – double-??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? circuit hydraulic master cylinder with vacuum booster, ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? four-channel ABS, BA and ESP.

Tires:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Michelin Latitude Tour HP? 235/50 R19 mounted on 5-? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? triple-spoke alloy wheels (7.5×19?).

Wheelbase:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 108.5??????????? inches

Length Overall: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?178.3??????????? inches

Width: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?74.25??????????? inches

Height: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 66.90??????????? inches -including roof rails.

Curb Weight: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?4,012??????????? lbs. GLK 350 / 4,079 GLK350 4MATIC.

Fuel Capacity: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? 17.4??????????? gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates:??????????? ???? 16 ? ? ? ?mpg city / 23? mpg highway (16/21-4MATIC)

Drag Coefficient:??????????? ??????????? Not listed.

0 – 60 mph:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 6.5??????????? seconds (est.)









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