German wagon or German crossover? What is a car lover to do when faced with such a choice? The 2013 Audi Allroad offers the utility of a crossover and the refinement of a luxury car. The 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK first came on to the scene in 2010, and has gotten a serious glamour makeover for 2013, from a new interior to a more efficient engine.
The Allroad is powered by a 2.0L turbo charged inline 4 knocking out 211 hp and 258 lb/ft of torque. Now that’s not an overwhelming number, but that torque does kick at a pretty low 1500 rpm, giving you plenty of oomph of the line. Power is put thru to the Quattro AWD via an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic that can be operated manually from stick. You’ll get from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds and get fairly decent mileage at 20mpg in the city and 27mpg out on the highway, although premium fuel is recommended.
The new engine in the GLK is still a 3.5L V6, but it’s 15% more efficient while at the same time giving you more hp and torque, 302 and 273 respectively, up from last year’s 268 hp and 258 lb/ft torque. The 7 speed automatic scoots you to 60 in 6.5 seconds, compared with the 7.2 of last year. The GLK will get 19mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway.
The ride in the Allroad is very smooth, cruising over manhole covers and staying planted in the corners thanks to Audi’s Quattro AWD. There is an optional drive select to customize throttle response and steering and reasonable drivers will be satisfied at the minimal turbo lag. The electric power steering is light enough to drive with your finger at speeds of up to 20 mph, where it starts to get heavier and definitely weights up nicely in the corners. I felt like I wasn’t getting much feedback from the steering, but again, any reasonable driver would find it just fine.
The engineers at Mercedes Benz seem to have hit that sweet suspension spot. Like Goldilocks, I found the ride not too harsh, not too soft. My daily commute has been a construction zone for way too long, and the Mercedes Benz GLK was pretty good at swerving around any potholes that I know are there, while at the same time taking one for the team when I found a new one. My test model was equipped with the optional 4MATIC AWD system, which only enhanced my confidence and control on the road. This year the hydraulic power steering has been nixed in favor of electric, saving fuel at the expense of feedback. However, the system works better than most, maintaining a slight heft at parking lot speeds and weighting up nicely as you accelerate.
The interior of the Audi is a lesson in good design and has everything you’d ever want or desire. It is very driver oriented, with the center stack angled slightly to the left. The gauges are well thought out and easy to read, the leather is of a smooth premium grade and the choice of black and silver lend it a sophisticated feel. There is wifi in the car for updated traffic, weather, and even news. It’s a hotspot for up to 8 people so you never have to hear your friends ask, “Are we there yet?” since they’ll be playing Drawsome and Words With Friends in the backseat. My test model came also came with navigation. Although it took a while to input my destination with Audi’s MMI dial, the maps are clear and easy to understand.
The GLK really stepped up its interior game in 2013. Out went the old plastic looking dash in came the soft touch leather. A 5.8-inch display is standard, but my test model had the Multimedia package with a 7” screen, navigation, Bluetooth, backup camera, and Sirius satellite radio. It’s all controlled from the COMAND system, which is not the most intuitive system, but it’s learnable. Last year’s model had the gear selector on the center console, this year they’ve moved it up to the steering column. On the whole with the new round vents, wood and chrome accents, the interior takes a step towards what Mercedes Benz customers have come to expect: not the boxy, utilitarian look of the 2012, but an understated elegance.
The 2013 Audi Allroad starts at $39,600 and my Premium Plus test model with Navigation clocks in at a cool $47,870. The 2013 MB GLK 350 starts at $37,090 but with all the bells and whistles you can easily expect to pay upwards of $50,000. My money is on the Audi Allroad, if only for the added wifi tech in the cabin and the slightly better gas mileage. However, the GLK is a fine performer and a great choice for those who don’t need to be connected at all times.