Mercedes GLK: Safety First

By The Car Family

If you would love to own a Mercedes, the GLK might be your best choice because it combines the legendary sturdy construction with utility and German engineering to produce a handsome-looking vehicle that affords a touch of elegance to its on-task demeanor.

You can choose between a 3.5-liter V-6 that develops 302-horsepower or a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine that makes 200 horsepower, both running through a smooth seven-speed automatic. The power plant provides excellent acceleration and plenty of poke for high-speed merging or passing. However, the mileage on the diesel makes it a strong contender for those who travel a great deal with an average of 28 mpg versus 21 for the gas version. Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is optional on the GLK350 and standard on the GLK250 Bluetec.

Although this Mercedes is considered a luxury SUV and is equipped as such with standard dual-zone climate control, power front seats, Bluetooth, a six-speaker audio system, antilock brakes, stability control and airbags most everywhere, there are some excellent option packages that need to be added to make the GLK even more comforting.

Mom’s view: It is definitely a different looking SUV with its angular exterior and upright stance looking much like an elongated G Class. The GLK has a firm ride that provides an “I Can” attitude when confronted with canyon cornering or emergency maneuvers. I found the front seats comfortable and controls easy to master. Be aware that the seats are “form-fitting” so they take a while to get used to, but after a long drive your back doesn’t hurt. The handling is nimble and the steering has a nice feel, but the real plus is its solid build quality. The high quality interior treatment is very well done, but I strongly recommend the optional rear view camera and blind spot monitoring options. The interior is rather dark, but the plastics are soft and the overall feel one of caring comfort. The step-in isn’t too high, but I recommend the automatic tailgate especially if you are on the petite side. Overall, a classy ride, but one that cradles you in reassurance as well.

Dad’s view: Owning a Mercedes is all about the technology, and the GLK won’t disappoint. Blind spot and lane departure warnings are available, a lane departure system, the ability to parallel park itself, and an adaptive cruise control (Distronic) system that practically enables the car to drive itself need to be experienced before buying. There is also all-wheel drive. The transmission features both a Sport and Economy setting, but we found the latter setting fine for even mountainous terrain. The suspension is well controlled, but it isn’t over-done so you still get the feel of the road. As noted before, the many options make it most necessary to do your homework because they can totally change the nature of the GLK. For example, you can order a navigation system, a rearview camera, a power lift gate, and a panoramic sunroof. Tempting, but there is a reason they call this a luxury vehicle with a list price that can escalate into the $50,000 range without caution from a base below $40,000. Either way, the residual value remains good on this model.

Young worker woman’s view: The dash is quite nice with a large screen and an array of buttons that should keep even an eight-year-old entertained. The optional leather upholstery is handsome and easy to clean. Driving the GLK is a pleasure with a reassuring feel to the electric steering and brakes that provide good feel and confidence. Look for real world fuel economy of around 20 mpg, but you can do better using the cruise control. Even in base form, the GLK has an abundance of features that extend to rain sensing wipers to power front seats. Indeed, I was struck by the thought put into this Mercedes. The rear seats fold flat making it easy to load large packages, and there are small cubbyholes most everywhere to place small items. There is no doubt this is a real competitor in a field that includes the Lexus RX, the Audi Q5, and the BMW X3. But it is different enough in looks and appeal to make it attractive to those who want to drive a vehicle that provides that bank vault type security.

Young working male’s view: Mercedes does listen and the turn signal and cruise control stalks were finally moved to a position where they were easy to use over their placement in earlier models. The part that intrigued me was what you get even in the base model compared to the competition. It doesn’t make the GLK a bargain, but it puts the price in perspective especially for those who are more interested in the MSRP. There are some really technical packages, such as for lighting, in which the selection of “auto” means the car will handle the decision for you. The GLK also offers a service in which you can access the news, Google and even Facebook. I thought the monitor could easily be made larger, but it was easy to read. Some of the functions need to be mastered before hitting the highway. Regardless, for me, the bottom line in the event of a natural disaster the GLK would be an ideal base unit. In the meantime, it gets noticed and is eager to please.

Family conference: There is plenty of competition, but none have the Mercedes engineering and the solid granite feel. The Attention Assist is especially notable because it can alert a drowsy driver with an audible alert and a warning message on the dash. We believe that attention to safety is what sets the GLK apart.

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