Review and photos by Tom Sedens

The Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 is an odd duck to some, and a tall SUV/wagon that just makes sense to others. The new 2013 model makes evolutionary changes inside and out, and they’re basically all good ones. You’ll find a subtle but effective facelift, a cabin that certainly comes across as more luxurious and upscale, and some changes under the hood as well.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. Click image to enlarge

Though it looks familiar at first glance, the 3.5L V6 is updated. Mercedes has added direct injection, which makes for a significant bump in power (302 hp at 6,500 rpm) as well as in fuel efficiency. The aluminum mill is rated at 274 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm, which is also an improvement.

The seven-speed automatic sends the power to all four corners via Mercedes’ 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system and everything works in concert to shove this 1,845 kg (4,067 pounds) box around town.

Fuel efficiency was one of several complaints that buyers of the previous generation had. It’s improved with the new GLK. Fuel economy is rated at 11.1 L/100 km in the city and 8.1 L/100 km on the highway. I spent most of my week with it commuting – slow city driving, occasional freeway trips, one sprint down the highway – and averaged 12.2 L/100 km. The GLK has a 66 L tank and you’ll need to fill it with premium fuel.

The GLK’s exterior has seen a refresh rather than a restyle. The major styling cues remain – a very upright windshield, short wheelbase on a long, tall wagon-like SUV and a boxy set of lines all around.

The shape has always appealed to me, but I found it to be quite polarizing with onlookers. It’s a bit of a love it or hate it shape. The new chin sports a mass of chrome that might be accused of looking like a skidplate, there’s a wide strip of LED driving lights across the front intake openings, the tailpipes are now wider (and more flattened) and there are other little nips and tucks to be found.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 3502013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. Click image to enlarge

I enjoyed the huge 20-inch rims that fill the wheel wells, shod with serious 235/45-sized rubber. The grille is home to one of the bigger three-pointed stars out there. Hilariously, as we were standing in front of the car looking at the grille, someone asked me what kind of car this was. Um…

Anyway, sometimes it’s nice to see a departure from the smooth, flowing curves and lines that are so commonplace now. I like that Mercedes, a manufacturer that is capable of pulling off those smooth lines, took a step in a different direction with the GLK.

One of the biggest issues with the previous generation GLK was the interior. It simply didn’t say luxury. Actually, it barely even whispered it. I think that Mercedes has done a bang-up job with this refresh. The interior has been brought up to current luxury standards and the materials are very nice – the short dash and upper door panels are soft-touch plastic, and the middle of the door panels are upholstered in stitched, leather-like material. Headroom is outstanding, even though there is a dual-pane sunroof overhead.

The heated seats are extremely comfortable and power-adjustable and both front seats have three-position memory settings. I would have preferred some more bolstering for spirited driving.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 3502013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 3502013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. Click image to enlarge

Ahead of you is a power-adjustable steering wheel (with controls for the media system, phone, driver information screen and hands-free functions) and behind it is a pod of three gauges. The large speedometer houses a crisp driver information screen in the centre. Mercedes has moved the gear selector from the console back up to the steering column, and at first it feels like you’re driving your dad’s Oldsmobile again, but it works well.

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