Reviews

2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Walk Around

There's no mistaking the 2014 GLK for a Mercedes-Benz. Especially with the giant three-pointed star integrated into the front grille, which leaves no room for doubt. But even without the badge, the family resemblance is clear. Bold bumpers, headlights and crisp lines echo the GL-Class full-size SUV, including the sharp crease along the sides of the hood. The exterior design is quite handsome, though it may not attract as much attention as does the GL-Class or the M-Class.

Measuring 178.3 inches in overall length (14.8 feet), the GLK is nearly 11 inches shorter than the Mercedes-Benz M-Class sport-utility. The GLK is also four inches shorter than the BMW X3 and five inches shorter than the Acura RDX, two of its primary competitors (the Lexus RX is significantly larger, the Range Rover Evoque is significantly smaller).

The GLK rides on a 108.5-inch wheelbase, which is three inches longer than that of the Acura RDX, two inches shorter than that of the BMW X3. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear wheels, and a longer wheelbase tends to allow a smoother ride and greater high-speed stability than a shorter wheelbase. In terms of width and height, the GLK is comparable to the X3 and RDX.

The GLK350 4MATIC weighs 4,079 pounds, which is significantly lighter than the 4,222-pound BMW X3 Xdrive35i. The 2014 RDX AWD is the lightest of the three at 3,852 pounds. GLK350 weighs 4,012 pounds with rear-wheel drive, so 4MATIC is not costly in terms of weight.

An AMG appearance package is available featuring special exterior trim. We're not sure the AMG trim improves the appearance, however. Also, the sporty-looking mini running boards with rubber nubs serve to dirty pants legs more than aid stepping in and out; we recommend them only for drivers of the smallest stature.

Interior

This generation of GLK is much improved over previous incarnations. The dash looks elegant, and our test car had handsome burl walnut wood trim sweeping across its width (though there's a bit too much of it front of the passenger for our taste). Big round vents are easy to aim and control.

The standard MB-Tex upholstery looks more like leather than vinyl, and we were perfectly happy with it. The MB-Tex comes in black, almond/beige, or gray. Optional leather comes in black, mocha, and almond.

Front seats are comfortable and supportive. We spent five hours in them in one day, and 90 minutes or so the day before and the day after, and we never tired of them.

Back seats are comfortable for two adults but not three. The GLK seats up to five, but it's better with four.

Interior materials are attractive, with double stitching on some of the trim and flashes of aluminum that give it an upscale feel. The steering wheel feels and looks great. From a more practical standpoint, we wonder whether the rolltop lid that covers the center console compartment will become a gathering place for crumbs and dust. Also, the climate controls site at the bottom of the center stack and seem very far down there visually while driving.

The GLK is loaded with technology, including Mercedes-Benz's mbrace2 connectivity system. One of many features it offers is notification to your smartphone while you're dining, should a shady valet take your car for a joy ride.

On vehicles fitted with the Comand interface and navigation, we found the system worked well, but it took some getting used to. Its mapping fell short in rural and remote areas, however, telling us we were in uncharted territory.

The cargo compartment is trimmed nicely and the rear seats fold down almost perfectly flat. The rear seats are split 60/40 for flexibility with cargo and passengers. However, the GLK doesn't offer as much space as many competitors

The optional power liftgate can be opened by waving a foot under the rear bumper, a nice feature when carrying an armload of groceries. A 115-volt AC outlet delivers house current to the cargo area, a useful feature for charging laptops, powering hand tools or running accessories when camping or tailgating.

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