Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to diesel engines. The German automaker built one of its first diesel engines for the Mercedes-Benz 260 D, which entered production way back in 1936. This four-cylinder diesel engine produced 45 horsepower and achieved a top speed of 59 mph. Fast-forward more than 80 years, and Mercedes-Benz now features a wide variety of vehicles in its portfolio that use diesel power. The latest to receive the diesel treatment is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC. Behind that mouthful of a name is a 2.1-liter four-cylinder biturbo diesel engine rated at 200 horsepower -- a slight step up from 1936 -- and 369 pound-feet of torque. Diesel engines provide immediate power without digging too deep into fuel economy, something gas-powered engines have yet to do on a consistent basis, but still lack the popularity its octane-drinking brethren possess in the United States. We took the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC out for a spin to see if this reputation would change anytime soon. Here's what we found.
Model and PriceWith a starting price of $38,950, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC comes with standard features like 19-inch wheels wrapped in all-season tires, mbrace 2, power adjustable seats, and a 2.1-liter inline-4 cylinder biturbo diesel engine. Our tester featured available options like $750 heated front seats, and a Premium Package which added a power liftgate, auto dimming driver's side and rear view mirrors, and a panorama sunroof for $3,450. Other option boxes checked off on our test vehicle included the Lighting Package, which adds bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive high beam assist, and active curve illumination for $1,290, and the Multimedia package that adds a back-up camera, navigation, and a seven-inch color display for $2,790. The AMG styling package ($1,990) was also added on which subs in 19-inch AMG wheels, an AMG-inspired front and rear bumper with chrome skid plates, brushed aluminum roof rails, and LED daytime running lights. With everything included, our 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC would set you back a grand total of $50,485. However, it should be noted that Mercedes said it sees a usual transaction price ranging from $43,000 to $45,000 based on the GLK350 sales.
Safety and Key FeaturesFresh off the showroom floor, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC includes a four year, 50,000 mile warranty, as well as rear door child safety locks, and an anchor system for a baby's seat. Other standard safety features include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and an array of airbags that line the interior. Adaptive brake technology, attention assist, and LED daytime running and tail lights are also standard safety equipment. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration didn't test the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, on the other hand, named the GLK250 a Top Safety Pick for the latest model year. When tested by the IIHS, the GLK250 earned a score of "Good" in front, side, rear, and rollover impacts.
Family Friendliness and UtilityRear doors that open wide make it easy to maneuver that bulky child's seat into place while the LATCH points are easy to hook up with. If you have a child who thinks opening the doors while at speed is "fun," you can easily foil that by manually engaging the child safety locks on the rear doors. The power liftgate opens up in a reasonable amount of time, and by reasonable, we mean that your arms won't feel like they're on fire while holding all the groceries as you wait for the hatch to rise up. With all the seats in place, you have enough room for everything needed to feed a family of five and then some for a week.
Comfort and QualityYou wouldn't know there was a diesel under the hood it if the "BlueTEC" badge wasn't stuck to the 2013 GLK250 BlueTEC's hatch, as it features one of the quietest diesel engines we've ever come across. It doesn't matter if you're creeping up a hill while waiting in line to pick the kids up at school, or tooling down the freeway to get to work on time, the 2.1-liter biturbo four-cylinder cylinder diesel engine is as quiet as they come. Inside, the redesigned steering wheel is wrapped in perforated leather and features spokes with impressions that curve to your thumb, no matter the size, giving your hands a comfortable place to rest. Nothing is too far out of reach for the driver either. You don't even come close to over-extending yourself when interacting with the center console and most of the buttons you would reach for are right below your thumbs on the steering wheel.
How it DrivesThe 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC's diesel engine is whisper quiet, and displays none of the smells or other nastiness that Americans used to associate with diesel engines. It all adds up to a ride that's much more quiet and enjoyable. A 2.1-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 200 horsepower and a very respectable 369 pound-feet of torque, is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters to deliver a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg. During our time with the GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC, we observed an average fuel consumption of 30 mpg, and that was in mixed driving conditions with multiple elevation changes. The moment you step on the throttle, instant power arrives and you're easily able to create some space between yourself and those around you waiting at the light.
SummaryWe're just going to cut right to the chase here: If you're in the market for a compact luxury SUV and can adjust to life with a diesel engine, there isn't a better vehicle in its segment than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC. The combination of refinement, luxury, fuel economy, and a starting price just under $40,000 is nearly impossible to beat. However, like the gas-powered GLK350, if you want to add any optional equipment, the price of the GLK-Class climbs quickly. Even still, the GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC is a solid crossover that delivers on substance while keeping your visits to the pump at a minimum. Of the (now) three GLK-Class models offered in North America, if you can get used to finding gas stations that carry diesel, then this is the model to get hands down.
Spec BoxPrice-as-tested: $50,485
EPA City: 24 mpg
EPA Highway: 33 mpg
EPA Combined: 28 mpg
Cargo Space: 20 grocery bags
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Excellent
Estimated Combined Range: 515 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Not Rated