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2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC Road Test

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC offers big luxury in a small package.

What It Is
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC is a viable alternative when the Honda CR-V's of the world just won't cut it.
Best Thing
Despite its size, the GLK350 comes with all the same technological goodies that its larger siblings have.
Worst Thing
Options can push the GLK's price tag uncomfortably high quickly.
Snap Judgment
If you're in need of a small, luxury SUV, then the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 can help.


The Mercedes-Benz GLK wasted little time becoming the darling child of the compact, luxury SUV class when it was first introduced three years ago. It quickly became obvious that the German automaker uncovered a market with an unmet need. Since then, Benz's smallest SUV has seen various added improvements, but still included a well-crafted interior and comfortable ride. The 2013 model comprehensively updates much of the vehicle, including various interior updates and some exterior styling tweaks as well. The latest GLK feels solid, with everything snapping into place with a purpose, and it's evident from the moment you sit in the driver's seat.

The smallest of its SUV portfolio, the Mercedes-Benz GLK offers a combination of style, sophistication, and comfort not found in the small non-luxury SUV segment. However, unlike the economy segment's offerings, available options can boost the GLK's price into a comfortably equipped -- and much larger -- luxury SUV price range. Are all of these available options and refinements really worth the extra coin? We had a week with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC to find out for ourselves.

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What We Drove

Standard features on our 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC included dual zone climate control, an infotainment center with a dial control, mbrace2, Bluetooth with audio streaming capability, fold-flat second row seating, privacy glass, and roof rails. Standard safety features include rear door child locks, LATCH points in the rear seat, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, adaptive brake technology, attention assist to help keep you in your lane, LED daytime running lights, and LED taillights. All of these features are a part of the $39,090 suggested retail price set forth by Mercedes, which on its own is reasonable for a vehicle in this segment. But a raft of optional features sent the price tag skyward, and looking less friendly than before.

Optional features included on our GLK350 4MATIC tester included almond beige upholstery, Burl Walnut wood, Cuprite brown paint ($720), and heated front seats ($750). The Premium Package included garage door openers, an integrated compass, auto-dimming driver side and rear view mirrors, memory settings for the driver's seat, a power liftgate, panorama sunroof, an iPod jack and interface, Sirius XM radio, and a 115 volt outlet for an extra $3,450. Other optional features included the $2,790 Multimedia Package, adding a rearview camera, voice controls for audio, phone, and navigation, COMAND system with hard-drive navigation, a six-disc CD changer, and a 7-inch display screen. The Lane Tracking Package included blind spot and lane keeping assist for $850, and the $905 destination and delivery charge hiked the total price to $48,555.

Both the Institute of Insurance for Highway Safety has yet to rate the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC, but the 2012 model was named a Top Safety pick by the IIHS. The NHTSA hasn't tested either model yet.

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The Commute

Vehicles like the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC are made for sitting in traffic, something Southern California has in abundance. It gave us plenty of time to explore features like mbrace2. This system integrates your smartphone or computer into COMAND, Mercedes' onboard infotainment center, and includes apps like Google Local Search. Other Mercedes-based apps include news, weather, and traffic, all in real time fashion. While the news and weather apps are handy, the traffic app is a necessity when you're forced to travel with 10 million other people to work every day.

All of the aforementioned apps are seen through a 5.8-inch screen, the same one that COMAND uses, and controlled by a knob in between the front seats. This knob controls audio sources such as the normal AM/FM radio bands and a CD player. If you opted to spend an extra $3,450 for the Premium package, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth audio, and Sirius XM radio can also be controlled by the knob as well.

The GLK is based off the C-Class sedan, and shares its 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, making it easy to get up to freeway speeds whether they're 65 mph, or 6.5 mph. At highway speeds, the GLK's ride was comfortable and its Agility Control suspension regulates every imperfection that passes underneath the tires. However, we did notice that at slower speeds, the ride became less forgiving with cracks and grated roads in particular. Steering felt light no matter what the speed, and even though the GLK is about 10 inches taller and 5 inches wider than the C-Class, it was easy to thread the needle into a tight spot.

The Grocery Run

Since the shares the C-Class sedan's footprint, it's just as easy to get into a parking spot, but has 54.7 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are folded down. We saw this amount of real estate first hand when we loaded the GLK with a IKEA-sourced coffee table and 10 full-sized couch pillows. The GLK swallowed everything up without an issue, and even after everything was loaded, there was still plenty of rearward visibility. If you do get a little ambitious and end up having to stack some cargo a little high, the back-up camera -- part of the $2,790 Multimedia package -- walks you back out of your spot with ease.

Even with the rear seats in place, the GLK offers 23.3 cubic feet of cargo space, good for enough grocery bags to feed a family of five for a week. If you're going to make a few stops, simply remove the privacy shade that blocks prying eyes from your cargo, unclip, and fold the seats down for more space. With the seats in place, rear legroom stretches out 35.1 inches while headroom offers 39.7 inches of space. If raw numbers look like a foreign language to you, that's enough room for an adult who is just over six-feet tall. When we loaded the GLK with four adults, all remarked that they had enough space and were surprised at how big it felt in size compared to its perceived smaller exterior.

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The Weekend Fun

When out on the open road, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC is at its best. The GLK is about 460 pounds heavier with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. Nevertheless, the suspension worked hard to provide a smooth and comfortable ride on the freeway. Asphalt, usually a road surface that has little trouble creating noise, couldn't even overtake the GLK's Agility Control system. The 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires also helped keep road noise at a manageable level.

Making the miles pass quickly in the GLK are made possible by all of the option boxes you can check off when picking out your new SUV. Of course, checking more than $9,000 in upgrades resulted in an array of media and audio options. Having the choice of every XM channel, access to an iPod's song library, and the normal AM and FM radio stations made it possible to never hear the Biebs, ever. Audio controls on the steering wheel spokes make it easy to crank your favorite tune without making your eyes leave the road. Switching between audio inputs can be a hassle though, as you can only rely on the knob to do so. We highly recommend only using the knob when stopped because the system requires your attention to navigate it, but so does the road.

The option boxes strike again, as the panorama sunroof was also a crowd pleaser with passengers, especially while cruising the downtown streets of Los Angeles. Being able to look up and see the skyscrapers pass by is quite the site, but like all good things, it'll cost you, and handsomely; the panorama sunroof is part of the $3,495 Premium package. The navigation system was helpful when we couldn't find a desired destination, but that too was part of an optional package.

Summary

After a week-long stay with us performing various tasks, it was easy to get accustomed to life with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC. The overall size of the GLK makes it easy to snag a hotly-contested parking spot but offers enough space to carry the coffee table and 10 large pillows that you went in for. The abundance of technology, although overwhelming at first, was the icing on the cake when it comes to a long road trip. XM radio and iPod connectivity are available options and if you can afford the stiff price tag, we recommend opting for the Premium package. Same goes for the navigation, if you can manage the steep price tag, then opting for Multimedia package may not be a bad idea. However, be advised that you can quickly rack up the options and in turn, push the GLK's price to just under $50,000. For reference purposes, the M-Class-one step up in size- starts at $47,270.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC offers a variety of creature comforts making life more enjoyable no matter the length of your next trip. The GLK is a solid luxury SUV when the more major models from different automakers simply aren't an option. If you're more concerned with just getting from point A to point B instead of how you get there, then the GLK may be overkill. If you demand a luxury SUV with a compact sedan's footprint, then it's pretty hard to overlook the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC.

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Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $48,555
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 19 mpg
EPA Highway: 24 mpg
EPA Combined: 21 mpg
Estimated Combined Range: 365.4 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Not Rated

Notebook Quotes

"I love the massive circular air vents, ripped from the SLS and looking like the turbines in a 1920s science fiction movie. Everything is gratifyingly soft, and the steering wheel not only looks great (more brown with some perforated brown, here) but also feels sumptuous (mostly because the stitching is unobtrusive)."- Blake Z. Rong, Associate Editor
"The suspension managed a strange feat of being both firm and coddling -- something the Lexus RX can't match. And cargo capacity was ample." -Jacob Brown, Associate Editor

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