Full 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Review
What's New for 2014
Apart from some content changes, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is unchanged.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is one of the best examples of a luxury automaker effectively transferring most of its intrinsic quality and high-end features into a smaller package. This small crossover is freight-train stable at high speeds, and it rides and handles as well as most luxury sedans. And like most Mercedes-Benzes, the GLK feels like it's built to last for a couple generations.
The GLK boasts an angular design theme that looks like nothing else in its class and makes it immediately recognizable as a Mercedes-Benz. When it was introduced, the GLK wasn't all that opulent inside, but a recent makeover brought more luxurious materials as well as a more appealing design for the dashboard and some of the controls.
It's also pretty easy to decide which 2014 GLK-Class to buy, as apart from option packages, the only real choices come down to the engine, The 2014 GLK350 has a stout, 302-horsepower V6 that moves this tidily sized crossover with distinct authority, while the efficiency-oriented GLK250 Bluetec uses a 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel. The GLK250 is quite a bit slower than the GLK350, but the diesel's stellar fuel economy largely atones for that.
You'll also find most of the same high-tech features fitted to Mercedes' big-money models, but in a nod to keeping the 2014 GLK in the realm of affordability, many advanced electronic safety and convenience features are offered in option packages or as stand-alone items. If you pile on too many of these desirable extras, the GLK suddenly gets rather unaffordable -- a common dilemma for entry-level luxury crossover shoppers. Other drawbacks on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class include its unusually small backseat and cargo area, and small rear doors that make it difficult for taller adults to get in and out of the rear seat.
If you foresee often having a steady flow of rear-seat passengers, roomier rivals like the 2014 Acura RDX, 2014 Audi Q5 and 2014 BMW X3 are worth considering as alternatives. If, however, you're set on parking a Mercedes-Benz crossover in your driveway, there's no denying that the 2014 GLK-Class looks and feels special. Moreover, it goes down the road with a top-to-bottom solidity that no competitor in this class can totally match.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a small, five-passenger crossover. The line comprises the GLK350 and the diesel-powered GLK250 Bluetec.
Standard equipment on both models includes 19-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, foglamps, rear privacy glass, roof rails, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, memory and four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver seat, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a cargo cover. Standard electronic features include Bluetooth phone connectivity, the COMAND electronics interface (with a 5.8-inch display), the mbrace2 emergency communications system and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Premium 1 package adds a power liftgate, auto-dimming mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, a 115-volt power outlet, satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface. A Leather package adds leather upholstery, memory functions and four-way lumbar adjustment for the front passenger seat and upgraded head restraints.
There are two lighting option groups. The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers and automatic high-beam control. The Ambient Lighting package brings just that for the interior.
Adding the Multimedia package gets you a 7-inch display, a rearview camera, a CD/DVD player, 10GB of music storage, a navigation system and voice control. The Lane Tracking package adds blind-spot warning and lane-departure/lane-keeping systems.
The Appearance package brings 20-inch wheels (19s on the GLK250), aluminum roof rails and a chrome tailgate strip. Rounding out the 2014 GLK's extensive list of option packages is the Sport package, which adds 20-inch AMG-styled wheels (19-inch wheels for the GLK250), aluminum roof rails and unique LED running lamps and AMG-designed styling elements.
Stand-alone options include running boards, a trailer hitch, an automated parking system, keyless ignition/entry, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a dual-screen rear seat entertainment system, satellite radio, the iPod/USB audio interface and a premium Harman Kardon sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The gasoline V6-motivated GLK350 has standard rear-wheel drive, with 4Matic all-wheel drive as an option. All-wheel drive is standard on the GLK250 Bluetec. All 2014 GLK models come standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual gear-selection capability via steering-wheel paddles.
The GLK350's 3.5-liter V6 develops 302 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. An automatic stop-start system shuts down the engine to save fuel when the car comes to a stop. In Edmunds testing, a GLK350 4Matic sped from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, making it just as quick as the six-cylinder versions of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg combined (18 mpg city/25 mpg highway) for rear-wheel-drive models and 21 combined (19 city/25 highway) for 4Matic AWD models. (Note that SULEV versions sold in select states have slightly higher mpg ratings.)
The GLK250 Bluetec gets a turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine good for 200 hp and a V8-like 369 lb-ft of torque. At our test track, the GLK250 had a 0-60 time of 8.2 seconds, which isn't exactly slow but is certainly off the rapid pace set by this segment's jocks. On the upside, the GLK250 Bluetec is one of the most fuel-efficient luxury crossovers out there, with EPA ratings of 28 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway). These figures surpass Audi's more costly Q5 hybrid and aren't much lower than the Lexus RX 450h hybrid.
Properly equipped, any GLK can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags, front pelvic airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a driver drowsiness monitor. The new-for-2014 mbrace2 emergency communications system provides automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance and a system that alerts the owner when a selected speed or boundary is exceeded by another driver (say, a teen or valet). A rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems are available as package options, while an automated parking system (with front/rear parking sensors) is a stand-alone option.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the GLK received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
In Edmunds brake testing, the GLK350 4Matic came to a stop from 60 mph in 117 feet, while a GLK250 performed the same feat in 124 feet. For this class, the former is a short distance, while the latter is average.
Interior Design and Special Features
From the pleasing finish of the standard MB-Tex upholstery to the wood and metallic accents seen throughout the cabin, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class looks and feels like a true luxury vehicle on the inside. Indeed, if there is any inexpensive plastic used in the GLK's interior, it's certainly not evident -- not something we can say for every vehicle in this class.
The use of a steering-column-mounted gearshift lever frees up center console space, allowing for a spacious storage bin under a sliding panel. This is not only handy but also makes the front seat area feel less crowded.
Cabin controls are a little complicated at first, but the combination of dashboard buttons, steering wheel controls and the multifunction COMAND knob provide a reasonable solution for the operation of the complicated stereo, navigation and phone functions. The climate controls are simple to use, but are mounted a little low in the GLK.
Maximum cargo capacity is a rather skimpy 54.7 cubic feet, highlighting one of the few drawbacks of the 2014 GLK's packaging. That's significantly less cargo capacity than in most other small crossover SUVs. It's a similar story in the backseat: Legroom is tight for adults and small rear doors make it difficult to exit the vehicle gracefully. Headroom is ample for all, however.
While the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK350's V6 delivers brisk acceleration that borders on exciting (at least by small crossover standards), the diesel engine is truly impressive for its combination of stout pulling power and compact-carlike fuel economy. Although the diesel can feel a bit flat-footed when you're pulling away from a stop, it soon hits its stride and is startlingly refined and silent.
Drive 100 yards down the road and you can't help but marvel at the feeling of solidity the GLK exhibits. The ride is mostly supple; although more severe bumps and ruts can be felt, the sharpness of the jolt is ably absorbed. Some consumers might find the ride quality too firm, but we think the GLK's crisp, controlled handling more than compensates. That said, the Acura RDX and Lexus RX are reasonable alternatives if you want a softer ride.
For the most part, this Benz's cabin is serene, with little in the way of engine, road or wind noise. At faster highway speeds (over 70 mph), however, wind noise rises in a big way. The latter is likely an unfortunate side effect of this crossover's blocky design and relatively upright windshield.