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2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Delivers Diesel Power and Efficiency

Just the Facts:
  • New Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec 4Matic starts at $39,495.
  • Fuel efficiency is EPA-pegged at 33 mpg highway/24 city and 28 mpg combined.
  • The refined diesel engine delivers 200 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque with only a hint of diesel clatter at idle and no smelly exhaust.

SANTA MONICA, California — Mercedes-Benz, which claims to be the inventor of the diesel passenger car, has added a new one to its lineup of oil-burners, the 2013 GLK250 Bluetec 4Matic.

A late addition to the GLK family, the diesel model takes nothing away from its gasoline-powered siblings and offers two surprises — both nice: It is EPA-rated at 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway for a segment-leading combined fuel efficiency of 28 mpg, and it doesn't carry that dreaded diesel price premium.

That's right. Base price with Mercedes-Benz's standard $905 destination and delivery charge is $39,495. That's $500 less than the gasoline-powered GLK350 4Matic.

The all-wheel-drive GLK250 diesel has been on the market for about two weeks, so there's not a lot of data to go on. But the automaker says that the average transaction price for the gasoline versions of the small SUV is around $44,000, with most buyers choosing at least the optional $3,450 Premium package, which adds a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, a power liftgate and satellite radio.

Models we drove in a short circuit around the Brentwood and Bel-Air neighborhoods in West Los Angeles and through the Santa Monica Mountains were packed with substantially more optional gear and priced out at $50,485 for a steel gray number with an AMG appearance package and $57,635 for a metallic brown model with just about every bell and whistle the factory at Bremen could bolt on. On that 55-mile trip we achieved 29.8 mpg fuel efficiency despite a lot of hill climbing and lead-footed acceleration runs.

That $57K price tag on the fully loaded model is a long way from the sub-$40,000 entry price the automaker touts for its newest diesel, but it's the price one pays for goodies such as leather upholstery, automated parallel parking, navigation, a rearview camera, upgraded wheels and and a full suite of active safety systems such as lane-keeping assist and rear collision avoidance.

The base GLK250 Bluetec 4Matic comes with lots of standard stuff, but the key at any trim level is the new diesel power plant.

Moving the GLK250 Bluetec at a fairly snappy pace is a new 2.1-liter, four-cylinder twin-turbodiesel mated to Mercedes' seven-speed automatic transmission. The package delivers 200 horsepower and an impressive 369 pound-feet of torque and Mercedes estimates 0-60 acceleration at 7.9 seconds.

The new engine will next appear later this summer in an E-Class model.

You can tell the GLK250 Bluetec is a diesel when you are outside the car and it is idling, but the telltale diesel clatter caused by the powerful combustion events going on inside the block is minimal. Mercedes has done a nice job of sound-deadening, and the noise can't be heard at all from inside if the windows are up.

There's also no diesel stink or smoke from the exhaust, thanks in part to the cleaner diesel fuel mandated a few years ago by the EPA and in part to the multitude of exhaust filters and traps Mercedes (and other diesel makers) uses to control emissions.

One part of that emissions system is the special tank that injects urea-based "diesel exhaust fluid" into the exhaust stream to neutralize nitrous oxides emissions. It costs about $125 to replenish the fluid and must be done once every 10,000 miles.

Edmunds says: Mercedes-Benz loves its diesels — and so far has every right to do so. The new 2.1-liter biturbo model is aimed at lowering the price of entry-level models.

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