Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC Diesel: Luxury Crossover Fuel Economy

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This year has seen several new diesel passenger vehicles hit U.S. roads, and last fall, we were able to spend a full weekend with the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4matic crossover.

We'd driven the luxury compact utility vehicle for a day last spring, and enjoyed it--but we wanted to put it through our usual drive cycle to see what kind of fuel economy it would return.

MORE: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC: Fuel Efficiency Drive Report

The diesel GLK, with standard all-wheel drive, is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg combined (24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway).

Over our usual test route, covering a total of 287 miles with about two-thirds highway travel and one-third local running around town, our diesel GLK delivered a stated fuel efficiency of 33.5 miles per gallon.

That compares with 33.1 mpg and 34.9 mpg during our spring day test.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC

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Based on those results, we'd expect real-world figures to come in at a consistent 30 mpg--perhaps higher--showing once again that many diesel cars exceed their EPA fuel-economy ratings.

That 30-plus-mpg figure is about half-again as efficient as a gasoline GLK 350 model, which is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and rated at 21 mpg combined--with either rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive. It recommends premium gasoline, to boot.

Turbo lag

The Mercedes-Benz GLK is a very quiet vehicle at speed, and we found it extremely comfortable as a long-distance highway cruiser. The same applied to a full-size diesel Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC sedan we tested in the summer of 2012.

But we noticed some turbo lag when driving the GLK in stop-and-go traffic; not as much as in the Chevy Cruze Diesel, but more than in the 35-mpg Audi Q5 TDI we recently tested.

MORE: 2014 Audi Q5 TDI Diesel Crossover: Fuel Economy Test

We noticed some aggressive engine braking on a downhill stretch of our road before the GLK had warmed up. We also found the brakes to be a little grabby--although with 6,500 miles of press usage, that may not be attributable to the car but to its previous drivers.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4matic, Catskill Mountains, NY, Sep 2013

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 BlueTEC 4matic, Catskill Mountains, NY, Sep 2013

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The GLK was launched as a 2010 model, and the upright, square-cut styling modeled on the huge GL three-row utility vehicle is beginning to show its age. The windshield is remarkably upright for a 2014 model, though rear three-quarter visibility isn't particularly good despite the upright roof pillars.

So are the flat surfaces and angular lines of the interior--and for that matter, the genuine built-in ashtray and cigarette lighter as well, the first ones we've had in a test car in a couple of years.

But we found its cream and cocoa upholstery and trim tones especially luxurious, set off by flat silver trim, against the more typical all-black German interior.

Quirks and oddities

None of the GLK's design is bad, it's just no longer consistent with the more aerodynamic and flowing lines of recent Mercedes-Benz models, especially the new CLA compact sedan and the upcoming GLA small crossover.

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