Launched for 2009 and notably refreshed for the 2013 model year, the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class luxury compact crossover has never been particularly green.

But with the mid-year addition of a new diesel version, its fuel efficiency goes up by a third--which isn't bad for a pricey, heavy crossover.

Two weeks ago, we drove the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4Matic, to give it its full Teutonic nomenclature.

Along the scenic routes Mercedes-Benz laid out into the tony parts of Westchester County and Connecticut horse country, we found the smallest Benz crossover to be smooth, comfortable, and torquey, if not particularly quick.

The EPA ratings for the 2013 GLK 250 BlueTEC 4Matic are expected to come in at 28 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway).

That gives it a nominal range of 515 miles, or likely far longer than a wealthy middle-aged driver's bladder is likely to hold out.

By comparison, the 2013 GLK 350 model with the 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine is rated at 21 mpg combined (on premium gasoline) with either rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive.

On the 44-mile first leg, our GLK 250 BlueTEC diesel crossover showed us an indicated fuel efficiency of 33.1 mpg. On the longer 64-mile return leg, it registered 34.9 mpg.

Which reinforces the common wisdom that diesel cars do better than their EPA ratings in real-world use (while the same cannot be said of certain hybrids).

The same 2.1-liter twin-turbocharged diesel engine that's used in the GLK 250 BlueTEC--which produces 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque--will be launched this fall  in the E 250 BlueTEC 4Matic mid-size luxury sedan as well.

It replaces a larger V-6 diesel used in earlier models of the E-Series sedan, and should return even higher fuel efficiency ratings than the GLK 250's.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

We look forward to a longer test drive to compare the GLK 250 BlueTEC's efficiency and capabilities to other compact crossovers we've driven.

Those might include our surprisingly expensive 2013 Ford Escape Platinum with 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, which exactly hit its EPA combined rating of 24 mpg.

Some other impressions from our brief drive:

  • The diesel engine noise can best be described as a sort of sewing-machine whir: different, but not unpleasant
  • While it may only be a compact crossover, the GLK is a comfortable and confident car behind the wheel
  • But it's also heavy--at 4,246 pounds--and the driver is always aware that there's a lot of mass moving around, meaning it's far from lithe and "tossable"
  • It has one of the most upright windshields of any new car we've driven, which we like
  • But the rear three-quarter vision isn't particularly good, making the backup camera a necessity

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4Matic carries a base price of $38,590.

That's $1,500 pricier than the rear-wheel drive gasoline version--but $500 cheaper than the 4Matic all-wheel-drive gasoline model that's a more direct comparison.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC, upstate New York, April 2013

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC, upstate New York, April 2013

Still, our car carried a bottom line of more than $50,000.

As well as a package deemed Premium 1 (panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, rain-sensing wipers, SiriusXM satellite radio, auto-dimming rear-view mirrors, and more), at $3,450, the multimedia option (COMAND interface to infotainment system with 7-inch dash display) added $2,790 and the AMG styling package cost a further $1,990.

The lighting package added $1,290, the heated front seats $750, and the steel gray metallic paint and black MB-Tex seats $720 more.

Finally, the special-order Black Ash interior wood trim cost a further $250, and the inevitable and mandatory deliver fee was $905.

That all adds up to a sticker price for our test car of $50,735.


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