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Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Pros and Cons: Why (Not) This Car?

Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class pros and cons, according to Michael Karesh: the best reasons for buying (or not buying) the GLK-Class.

Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Reviews

Date   Review Description
03/02/13

0
  2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 Review
Compared to BMW X3

Best Reason to Buy: Brand reputation & image
I don't personally put much stock in brands, with cars or anything else. But each time I have a Mercedes-Benz for a week the continuing power of the marque has been unavoidable.

Audi and BMW now command similar prices, but haven't yet acquired the same mystique. They probably never will for people born before 1980. Until the final years of the twentieth century, Audis were largely ignored as troublesome, modestly upgraded VWs and BMW was mostly known for the compact, still semi-affordable 3-Series. Neither could hold a candle to the company that invented the mass-produced automobile and that has been strongly associated with large, top-shelf automobiles ever since.

Gayla (the site's programmer, my wife) is not a car person. Her take on the GLK: "Of course it's a good car, it's a Mercedes." Some of my friends who are more into cars--and who own competing makes--similarly employ a different tone when asking about "the Mercedes." They could afford one, so why don't they own one? Partly because the brand's mystique cuts both ways. They're not interested in making such a strong status statement.

Can even a compact crossover make a strong status statement? Mercedes-Benz has done its best to make this so--check out the size of the three-pointed star on the GLK's grille.

Best Reason Not to Buy: Handling
Mercedes-Benz proclaims the GLK350 as the "SUV embodiment of a sport sedan's soul." The right boxes have been checked: big V6, nearly balanced weight distribution, 19-inch wheels, and (for 2013) paddle shifters for the transmission, all as standard equipment. The retuned suspension does manage body motions and lean better. The new, electric-assist steering provides no more feedback than the numb old hydraulic unit, but contains less slop. Drive the GLK350 casually, and it behaves well.

But push the baby Benz ute and the veneer of sportiness falls away. Instead, in hard turns you'll discover limited grip from the Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires as the nose plows towards the curb and a non-defeatable, far-from-transparent stability control system jerks your chain.

Premium compact crossover buyers looking for fun are much more likely to find it in the competing Audi, BMW, Infiniti, or Volvo.

Other Reasons to Buy: Driving position & visibility, Safety & braking, Ride smoothness, Interior styling

Other Reasons Not to Buy: Price or payments, Fuel economy, Controls and instruments, Rear seat room & comfort

read this review
10/15/13

2
  2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC Review
Compared to Audi Q5

Best Reason to Buy: Brand reputation & image
The smaller the Mercedes, the more heavily it tends to trade on the three-pointed star. So the #1 reason to consider a GLK250 carries over from the GLK350 review (text from the previous review in italics):

I don't personally put much stock in brands, with cars or anything else. But each time I have a Mercedes-Benz for a week the continuing power of the marque has been unavoidable.

Audi and BMW now command similar prices, but haven't yet acquired the same mystique. They probably never will for people born before 1980. Until the final years of the twentieth century, Audis were largely ignored as troublesome, modestly upgraded VWs and BMW was mostly known for the compact, still semi-affordable 3-Series. Neither could hold a candle to the company that invented the mass-produced automobile and that has been strongly associated with large, top-shelf automobiles ever since.

Gayla (the site's programmer, my wife) is not a car person. Her take on the GLK: "Of course it's a good car, it's a Mercedes." Some of my friends who are more into cars--and who own competing makes--similarly employ a different tone when asking about "the Mercedes." They could afford one, so why don't they own one? Partly because the brand's mystique cuts both ways. They're not interested in making such a strong status statement.

Can even a compact crossover make a strong status statement? Mercedes-Benz has done its best to make this so--check out the size of the three-pointed star on the GLK's grille.

Best Reason Not to Buy: Handling
The GLK250 handles just like the GLK350, so, with some minor changes...

Mercedes-Benz proclaims the GLK as the "SUV embodiment of a sport sedan's soul." The right boxes have been checked: nearly balanced weight distribution, 19-inch wheels, and (for 2013) paddle shifters for the transmission, all as standard equipment. The retuned suspension does manage body motions and lean better. The new, electric-assist steering provides no more feedback than the numb old hydraulic unit, but contains less slop. Drive the GLK casually, and it behaves well.

But push the baby Benz ute and the veneer of sportiness falls away. Instead, in hard turns you'll discover limited grip from the Michelin Latitude Tour HP tires as the nose plows towards the curb and a non-defeatable, far-from-transparent stability control system jerks your chain.

Premium compact crossover buyers looking for fun are much more likely to find it in the competing Audi, BMW, Infiniti, or Volvo.

Compared to the BMW and especially the Mercedes, the Audi drives more like a car. Then again, maybe you don't want a crossover that handles like a car.

Other Reasons to Buy: Ride smoothness, Driving position & visibility, Interior styling, Fuel economy

Other Reasons Not to Buy: Controls and instruments, Rear seat room & comfort

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