Back in 1998, Mercedes helped pioneer the luxury SUV scene with their ML series. This machine helped kick off a new vehicle genre that was quickly joined by a flood of competition from around the globe. And, as the full-size posh-ute scene got rolling, shoppers started demanding the capability of larger models in a milder and more compact package.
Styling, classiness, comfort and the GLK’s upscale cabin are highly rated by owners.
Despite their pioneering efforts in the luxury utility scene, Mercedes is one of the market’s last automakers to offer a machine in its mid-size segment. Mercedes prefers that you call their GLK an SUV, not a crossover. The GLK launched for 2010 with a blocky and rugged look that flew in the face of more swoopy and wind-swept machines, targeting test drivers of machinery like the Acura RDX, BMW X3 and comparables. The GLK boasted great visibility on account of its square proportions and thin window pillars, generous maneuverability, and a full complement of upscale feature content fitting of the badge.
At launch, all models ran a 3.5L V6 with 268 hp, a seven-speed automatic, and 4Matic All-Wheel Drive (AWD). The GLK rode an Agility Control suspension system, which works towards maintenance of a softly-sporty ride character on all surfaces. Note that no control over the AWD system, or suspension system, was possible by the driver.
From 2013, the GLK’s 3.5L V6 gets a power bump to just past 300 horses, and a 2.1L twin-turbo diesel four-cylinder engine becomes available, in the GLK 250 Bluetec.
Feature content specifics included a 120-volt power outlet, panoramic sunroof, memory seating, navigation and more.
What Owners Like
Styling, classiness, comfort and the GLK’s upscale cabin are highly rated by owners. Many report a perfect blend of agility, sportiness and comfort is maintained on all surfaces. A solid and robust feeling of quality is noted, and even the standard stereo system is said to be potent. Outward visibility and intelligent, confident traction in all conditions is praised, too. Finally, numerous tall drivers go out of their way to mention the GLK’s generous head-room.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners wish for larger side mirrors and more rear seat legroom, and question the engine’s need to be fed premium-grade fuel.
Here’s a list of owner reviews.
The Test Drive
By and large, the GLK owner’s community seems to be impressed with the reliability of their ride, though a few checks are advised on a test drive of any potential used candidate.
First, scrutinize the operation of the automatic transmission with an eye for shift quality. Any jerky shifts, slamming sensations, or failure to respond via downshift to throttle inputs could be the result of a fussy Transmission Control Unit (TCU). Some owners say that resetting the TCU fixes the problem. If that’s not the case, be sure to have the transmission and associated electronics inspected at a Mercedes-Benz dealership before your purchase. Usually, transmission misbehavior is caused by electronics, not mechanicals, but be sure to have a mechanic confirm that’s the case if problems are noted.
Run the COMAND central control interface through its paces, exploring and confirming proper operation of all functionalities. Some owners have reported sporadic or regular crashing-out of this system, which can render many vehicle functions relating to communications, entertainment and navigation inoperable. Revised system programming, available through your dealer, will typically solve the issue. Try the control knob in all directions, call up all menus, pair a phone, and be sure the system responds favourably.
Confirm proper operation of the powered tailgate, if equipped. If the tailgate reverses direction on its own, in either direction, a faulty motor clutch is probably to blame. Dealer service advisors have access to a service bulletin with more information on diagnosing and fixing issues with the rear power tailgate.
Delightfully, many problems discussed on owner’s forums are brought up infrequently, meaning there’s little cause for alarm. A handful of owners have reported coil-pack failure on the gasoline engine, which can cause poor performance, a rough idle, and a check-engine light. Squeaky brakes may be the result of excessive wear, or the need for revised brake pads, or a touch of brake-lube applied to components to mitigate vibrations that cause squeaks. Other uncommon but notable issues include backup camera failure, short taillight bulb life, and fluid leaks from a front axle seal.
Strangely, the most commonly-reported issue in the GLK seems to be squeaks and creaks from the interior, and specifically, the interior door handle. Other minor issues include easily-damaged wheel rims, which can apparently be blemished easily and may age prematurely.
Your writer dug hard to find any serious problems with this generation Mercedes GLK, and hardly turned any up. The most frequently-reported issues with this vehicle appear to be minor in nature, and should be easily detected and fixed. Many owners say the GLK is the most reliable machine they’ve ever owned, so prospective shoppers who find a good deal on a used copy, and get a thumbs-up from a Mercedes-Benz technician on a pre-purchase inspection, can buy with confidence.
Just two recalls.
Crash Test Ratings
IIHS: Top Safety Pick (2012)