The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK is a line of small luxury crossover SUVs with fresh design and upscale features you'd expect from the German brand. Although it's not the roomiest of the class, the GLK has refined driving dynamics and a distinct personality all its own.
Sharing its unit-body chassis with the C-Class compact sedan, the GLK is a crossover SUV.
Its four-wheel independent suspension with McPherson struts in front and a multi-link arrangement in the rear is the stuff of cars, and it's perfectly suited to the GLK.
Introduced late last year, the newest GLK variant is the GLK250 Bluetec, which uses a four-cylinder diesel engine designed to meet strict U.S. emissions regulations. The 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel is rated 190 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, which kicks in between 1600 and 1800 rpm. The GLK250 comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive. For road trips and long freeway commutes, we're a fan of the clean-diesel engine, which offers plenty of range and low-end grunt and an EPA-estimated 24/33 mpg City/Highway, making it the most efficient of the GLK.
There's no mistaking the 2014 GLK for anything but a Mercedes-Benz. Bold bumpers, headlights and front end all bear a clear family resemblance, complete with the giant three-point star integrated into the front grille. Design features are reminiscent of the GL-Class full-size SUV, including the sharp crease along the sides of the hood.
Handling is responsive, and because of its sedan-based architecture, the GLK drives like a car with a slightly higher seating position, which is why crossovers have become such compelling choices over traditional body-on-frame SUVs. We had no issues with the feel or responsiveness of the electromechanical steering, and we found the brakes easy to modulate for smooth, precise stops. Wind and road noise are well muted.
The 7-speed automatic transmission is smooth and responsive. We felt no need to use the semi-manual shifting features. We put it in Drive and it shifted up and down smoothly and correctly on winding roads peppered with elevation changes.
Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive system improves traction and stability in slippery conditions. It's not only good for snow and ice, but also for wet pavement or on unpaved roads.
A number of safety features come standard or optional on the GLK. Attention Assist can alert a drowsy driver with an audible alert and a warning message on the dash and a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster. It's a good feature, though the cars we drove always seemed to be displaying the coffee cup icon. Blind Spot Assist warns the driver another vehicle is alongside whenever the turn signals are used; Active Blind Spot Assist actually corrects the driver's input if he or she tries to steer a car in the adjoining lane. Lane Keeping Assist vibrates the steering wheel when the driver drifts out of his or her lane. Active Lane Keeping Assist adds an intervention feature, correcting the car's course if the driver doesn't heed the initial warning.
Parking is made easy with the optional backup camera and audible sensors to help drivers avoid obstacles while parking.
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