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Quick Spin: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK

Mercedes' entry-level crossover gets a makeover and more power options.

By Exhaust Notes Aug 30, 2012 12:53PM
Ahead of a full review, MSN Autos reviewers report to Exhaust Notes about their initial driving impressions in our Quick Spin segment. Here, Kirk Bell talks about both powertrains -- a 4-cylinder diesel and a V6 gasoline mill -- available in Mercedes-Benz refreshed entry-level crossover, the GLK.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK. Photo by Mercedes-Benz.Slowly but surely, diesel engines are gaining acceptance in the United States. That's due mostly to the efforts of the German brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

 

Mercedes offers a powerful and fuel-efficient V6 diesel in its R- and ML-class SUVs, and for 2013 is adding a smaller 4-cylinder oil burner in its GLK entry-level crossover. At the same time, the GLK also gets the brand's new, more powerful V6 gasoline engine.

 

We tested both recently in the French Alps. Here are our initial thoughts.

 

Pros

 

Strong V6 engine: Mercedes swaps out its old 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6 for a new 302-horsepower V6 of the same size. The new engine is quicker, and although fuel-economy ratings aren't yet available, it's likely to be more fuel efficient as well.

 

Fuel-sipping diesel: The GLK's new 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine is likely to deliver the thriftiest fuel economy in the class, so the fuel savings should be significant.

 

Stable, pleasant ride: The GLK gets what Mercedes considers a sport suspension, but it still does an excellent job of soaking up bumps and providing a smooth, quiet ride.


Photo by Mercedes-Benz. Cons

 

Not particularly sporty: The GLK's competitors, the Audi Q5, BMW X5 and Acura RDX, are all quite sporty. While the GLK does offer a carlike driving character, it isn't as agile as its rivals.

 

Diesel has mushy throttle response: It works best when the revs are over 2500 rpm, but the diesel engine lacks the liters to give it willing torque off the line.

 

Less cargo room than the competition: The GLK's cabin is set back on the body. While it offers plenty of passenger room for five, cargo space suffers slightly. That space also isn't as easy to access as in the smartly designed Acura RDX.


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