2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Introduction

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.

The current-generation Mercedes-Benz GLK was refreshed for the 2013 model year. For 2014, the GLK carries over mostly unchanged, save for a few color, package and option changes.

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.

The 2014 GLK350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct fuel injection, rated at 268 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque from 2000-5000 rpm. It's available with rear-wheel drive (2WD) or Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic all-wheel drive. Fuel economy estimates for the 2014 GLK350 are 18/25 mpg City/Highway and 19/25 mpg City/Highway on 4Matic versions. Premium unleaded gasoline is required for both versions.

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.

Inside is an attractive, functional cabin with a design and materials that are improved over previous generations. Large air vents have are stylish and easy to aim. We found the standard vinyl upholstery is nice, and very close in look and feel to genuine leather. The driver's seat was comfortable. The rear seats were comfortable for two adults, and a nicely trimmed cargo compartment opens up to a nearly flat space when the rear seatbacks are flipped down.

We found the new GLK350 delightful to drive. It's quick, capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, which is impressive performance, and we found it stable at 95 miles per hour. Handling is crisp and responsive on winding roads, while on the highway it's quiet and comfortable. We felt no fatigue in five hours of driving.

We're also impressed by the GLK250 Bluetec. Though the characteristic ticking of the diesel engine was audible from outside the vehicle and in the cabin at lower speeds, we didn't find it obtrusive. Acceleration is smoother and quieter than one might expect, and the low-end torque typical of diesels didn't disappoint. We'd recommend this variant for freeway commutes and long road trips.

Those considering the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK might also want to look at the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Cadillac SRX, most of which offer more backseat and cargo space than the GLK.

Base MSRP excludes transportation and handling charges, destination charges, taxes, title, registration, preparation and documentary fees, tags, labor and installation charges, insurance, and optional equipment, products, packages and accessories. Options, model availability and actual dealer price may vary. See dealer for details, costs and terms.

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