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2012 New York auto show: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK shows off a new face and features

Consumer Reports News: March 23, 2012 12:08 PM

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Mercedes-Benz will display a freshened look, new interior features, and claimed better fuel economy for the GLK compact SUV at the New York auto show in April.

We've learned that the exterior has been changed to reflect the design of the latest Mercedes-Benz sedans, including a new-look grille, rear bumper, and taillights. Also debuting are new headlamps with LED daytime running lights.

The GLK's 3.5-liter V6 engine has been updated to improve performance and fuel economy, with direct fuel injection and multi-spark ignition, as well as a new stop/start system. Mercedes claims 0-60 mph acceleration in 6.5 seconds. (We achieved a quick 7 seconds in our last test.)

Better fuel economy is always welcome, especially with the GLK achieving only 18 mpg in our previous test.

Inside, the interior has been revised with standard leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift paddles, a 4.5-inch color display in the instrument cluster, and a new shifter on the steering column for the seven-speed automatic transmission.

An infotainment system is also standard with Bluetooth and MP3 capability. A rear-view camera, XM radio, and enhanced voice control are optional, which seems baffling for a premium-branded product. Some of these features are increasingly common on models at half the GLK's expected price.

Safety features include drowsy driver detection, active front head restraints, and three additional air bags, including driver knee bag and pelvic air bags for driver and passenger.

The GLK scored just mid-pack among other sporty SUVs in our tests, with noted confusing controls, sparse rear-seat room, and unimpressive low-beam headlight performance. We'll see if this freshening addresses of some of these issues.

The new GLK350 will hit showrooms this summer, and a diesel-fueled GLK250 BlueTec will arrive in early 2013.

Liza Barth

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