2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350. Click image to enlarge
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Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

While Mercedes-Benz was one of the last luxury companies to enter the compact luxury SUV market, they got the formula right and they’re making sure to stay competitive with an update to their GLK crossover for 2013 after its launch in North America in 2010. The 2013 update included some cosmetic changes, an update to powertrain and interior technology, but nothing as dramatic as Mercedes-Benz bringing diesel power to this niche in the forthcoming GLK 250 Bluetec—we can’t wait for that combination of efficiency and grunt.

The subject of this review is the gasoline-powered GLK 350 4 Matic, making use of Mercedes-Benz’ signature 3.5L V6, one of the few remaining Mercedes whose model name matches the engine displacement. Anyhow, we’ve sampled this powertrain previously in the C 350 4Matic, and we love it. Even in a state of lesser tune in the C 300 and E 300, this 3.5L V6 is a quintessential luxury powerplant, pulling strongly and purring like a domesticated big cat.

In the GLK 350, the updated direct-injection V6 makes 302 hp at a lofty 6,500 rpm, and 273 lb-ft of torque from a functional 3,500 rpm up to 5,250. While it’s impossible to mistake the blocky styling for anything but an SUV, it’s easy to lapse into sport sedan driving habits as this engine winds up with smooth throttle response, and with power going down to four substantial contact patches—235/45R20—each sharing a portion of the power, this car leaps at opportunities to accelerate in dry and wet weather. However, we did not experience any snow during our test week, and I have to wonder if the big, wide tires would become a liability in heavy snow and slush—I, for one, would shop for some smaller, narrower snow tires and rims in areas with heavy snowfall, and not just for the cost savings.

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

At 1,845 kg (4,067 lb.), it’s no lightweight, but the engine never feels strained, and an auto start/stop function (which is almost undetectable, by the way), direct injection, and the default Eco mode combine for respectable fuel consumption ratings of 11.1 L/100 km city, 8.1 highway. In a week of mostly city driving and highway trips with my usual heavy foot, I managed 11.6 L/100 km over 350+ km. It’s no thrifty diesel, but it wasn’t too painful at fill-up time, although as is typical in this class, premium fuel is required.

In typical city and highway driving, the GLK really shines, its power and traction delivered fluidly through Mercedes’ seven-speed auto gearbox (with available Eco, Sport, and Manual modes with paddle shifters), and a ride that manages to stay composed despite the big 20-inch wheels. Don’t get me wrong, by composed I mean firm and sometimes even sharp over pavement breaks, but supple over typical rough roads and quick to settle after any significant bumps, a state of tune I prefer even in my luxury cute utes. In contrast, our long-term Subaru XV Crosstrek is in a state of constant rebound over pavement I would normally call smooth in any other car. The steering is typical Mercedes, very light but progressive and steady at highway speeds, near perfect for my typical highway commuting and parking at our office underground garage—yeah, I don’t get out much.

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