An ML is too big and won’t fit through the gate? Don’t want to be associated with the image of the typical ML driver? Or maybe the wife wants something imposing but easier to drive? The Mercedes GLK answers all these questions and more.
The Mercedes GLK came along in 2008 to kick the BMW X3 in the nads and then take itself a kick in the nads from the BMW X1 and Audi Q5. The Mercedes GLK came as an off-road-looking car that is optimized for urban driving. I’m sure most Mercedes GLK owners don’t even know or care what a transfer case is. They care about the high driving position from which to offer the look of superiority from above, can easily climb kerbs and have the three-pointed star on the hood that shows everyone that life treats you well.
What does the name Mercedes GLK stand for anyway?
The G stands for Gelandewagen, which translates to ‘off-road car’. The L stands for “Lux” and the K for “Kompakt”. So, the Mercedes GLK is a compact-class luxury off-road car. And that’s exactly what it’s managed to do, focusing on looks and less on dynamics. You don’t need power and four-wheel drive in the underground car park at the Bullring & Grand Central anyway. Plus the Mercedes GLK was never a mobster car like the W211 E Klass was, nor a chieftain car like the ML was. The Mercedes GLK was and is mostly a ladies car, just as we are mostly gravitational. Basically, the Mercedes GLK is the next step after the Rav4 for all the ladies who want to talk to the manager in whatever store they go to.
Mercedes GLK Engines
3.0 V6 M272 of 231 horsepower – We open the engine list directly with the mythical M271 in the 3-liter version. An explosive engine for the lady in a hurry to catch the latest cosmetics and furcoats discounts. Comes in GLK 280 4Matic and GLK 300 4Matic versions, standard with all-wheel drive and automatic transmission.
3.5 V6 M271 of 272 and 306 horsepower – The 272 horsepower version is the same M271, with the same issues but heavier on taxes and heavier on muscles. If it’s worth it to you, you can have a comically fast Mercedes GLK. As for the 306-horsepower one, I can only say good things about the M276, its successor that comes with increased reliability, start-stop because it cares about the environment, and enough power to throw you into the next dimension.
2.2 CDI OM651 of 143, 170 and 204 horsepower – By far the most popular engine on the Mercedes GLK, the classic 2.2 CDI did its honorable job carrying potatoes and pallets in a Sprinter or carrying VIPs in an S Class. And on the GLK it came with codenames GLK 200 CDI, GLK 220 CDI, and GLK 250 CDI, in all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive only, with automatic or manual transmission. An engine more flexible than Amelie Morgan. Just watch out for the injector seals, the classic issue with the 2.2 CDI.
3.0 V6 OM642 of 224 and 231 horsepower – The legendary OM 642 that has been the workhorse for all the big cars in the Mercedes range arrives on the GLK. There are thousands of engines that have done billions of miles with no issues, but it’s worth noting the known concern of the timing chain tensioner occasionally needing to be changed along with the chain. The codes are GLK 320 CDI and GLK 350 CDI and come standard with all-wheel drive. Why would you get this engine in your Mercedes GLK? Simply that the Mercedes ML is too big physically. Ah yes, this engine also has the injector seals issue and the oil cooler sealant issue, and if you ignore these you will get the Black Death of the Mercedes engines.
Mercedes GLK General Issues
- The M272 engine is notorious for the balance shaft issue that wears out over time and destroys the engine. On top of that, there are timing chain issues so it’s important to check the condition of the balancer shaft at every oil change.
- Diesel engines also suffer from the notorious “black plague” on the Mercedes GLK. The injector seals are made of hope and paper, the injectors start leaking unprocessed diesel and gas and it all settles on the engine. If you ignore the issue long enough and don’t replace the injector seals, you risk infecting and destroying the engine. Also, Mercedes injectors have very small tolerances and it is mandatory that they are calibrated after installation.
- For those of you who have opted for the panoramic sunroof, you have to be very careful with the sealing, otherwise, you’ll be filming live episodes of Spongebob in the car.
- Speaking of incontinence and leaks, the common windscreen fluid tank is prone to cracking. And you wouldn’t know it, because the tank is hidden behind the engine. But if you have a Mercedes GLK you will most likely never use the wipers, but pay someone to wipe your windshield. By the way, the windscreen is almost vertical, like the G Class. I’ll talk about that another time.
- The mirrors make quite a noise when folded. Because you have standard electric mirrors. Because you have Mercedes.
- The transfer case also suffers from incontinence and leaks oil. If you don’t know what a transfer case is, it’s okay. Just know that if you have a 4Matic four-wheel drive, you have to have the transfer case checked by a mechanic occasionally.
- The 7G-Tronic automatic transmission has a questionable reliability history and needs regular oil changes every 60,000 km / 40,000 miles. It’s important to test the car in the morning in the cool to see if the gearbox behaves within the parameters. The two people who bought the GLK with a manual gearbox have one less worry.
Mercedes GLK Verdict
It’s not an off-road car. The Mercedes GLK is a soft-roader in the sense that it handles most roads people drive on and fulfills their idea of off-roading, which is usually riding across a field and crossing a puddle. But that’s because Mercedes understands that people don’t want to go off-road. People just want a compact SUV that looks good and tickles their ego. And the Mercedes GLK is irresistible to the wealthy ladies and those who want something more than an E-Class but don’t want to take the plunge to the full ML.
Which engine do you recommend? By far the most rational and balanced engine on the Mercedes GLK is the single turbo, 170 horsepower 2.2 CDI engine in the GLK 220 CDI version. Mandatory with all-wheel drive so people don’t laugh at you that your SUV isn’t really an SUV and gets stuck in the snow. And it must have an automatic gearbox because SUVs generally prefer an automatic gearbox, especially in a Mercedes.