Mercedes-Benz was committed to diesel long before it was cool. In fact, diesel is unfortunately still not en vogue in the U.S., but that's not going to stop the legendary automaker from working hard to bring diesel more securely into the American psyche.
Today's case is in point – the $38,500 2014 GLK250 BlueTEC – should make diesel seem as common to American consumers as oversized restaurant portions and odorous perfumes fronted by reality TV stars.
Home to a new four cylinder, 200 horsepower engine, the GLK250 BlueTEC is the first vehicle in its segment to offer diesel. Mercedes-Benz sells piles of diesel vehicles all around the world – including American. But, the U.S. market lags behind Europe and the Middle Ease in accepting diesel over gas engines.
Diesel engines of ages past were noisy and were difficult to start in cold weather. But, rotary phones used to take too long to dial, and folks used to gather around their radios for entertainment every night. It’s the 21st century, and it’s time for the Red, White and Blue to consider going BlueTEC.
The advantages of diesel engines are numerous, and most American drivers have no clue about the upsides. Such power-plants are more efficient than standard engines, improving mileage and overall energy output. They're more reliable because they don't need a high powered electrical ignition system. They run cooler, cleaner and longer – all while being easier to supercharge.
While that might be news to the American consumer, it’s old hat for Mercedes-Benz as they add the GLK250 BlueTEC to their diesel family. Automotive writers were invited to the wilds of Santa Monica this week for a chance to drive the new SUV through the canyons and along Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway.
The GLK250 BlueTEC can take in such a haul without tapping its fuel tank too deeply. Serving up an average mpg of 28 and a projected travel range of 515 miles on a single tank – without the aid of any sort of hybrid technology or battery – this BlueTEC model provides the best fuel economy in its luxury SUV class.
The driving experience is a pleasure as the GLK250 BlueTEC handles like a much smaller car. Its cornering is precise, its balance reassuring. Its four cylinder engine might be a little hesitant off the line, but this isn’t an S-Class sports coup. Once in motion, this GLK offers ample power and smooth acceleration on mountain roads and freeway lanes.
You would expect any Mercedes-Benz luxury SUV to include a complete suite of in-car technology packages – including multiple handling settings, navigation, satellite radio, on-board cameras, etc. As with every other car Mercedes-Benz makes, safety is an obsession. Completely equipped with every driver aide from ABS to traction and torque control the interior comes with nine airbags. You start to think the airbags must have their own airbags.
At less than $39,000, the new GLK250 offers a smoother ride, better handling and superior technology to many more expensive cars in class. It’ll take a little time to see if its diesel identity is accepted by U.S. buyers.