See a Mercedes-Benz GLK on the road and ask almost anyone to describe who they think is behind the wheel, I can virtually guarantee you'll get a sentence that includes the following words: Farmer's market, soccer practice, North Face, hiking, kayaking, Whole Foods and wine tasting.

Make of that what you will. There's nothing wrong with being a person that enjoys any of those things. I love Whole Foods. And I really love wine. But there's just no denying that compact luxury SUVs send a specific type of message: They're for modern-day yuppies.

The GLK is a seriously yuppie vehicle. And it competes in a seriously yuppie part of the auto industry known as the compact luxury SUV segment, which includes cars like the BMW X3Audi Q5Infiniti EX and Acura RDX. These are cars that are highly versatile, allowing for the transportation of things like kayaks and bikes, but also provide a ton of creature comforts in addition to the cache of that big, fat luxury badge.

Truth be told, the standard GLK is considered by many to be inferior to a lot of its competition, given its fairly uninspired driving dynamics and lack of rear legroom. But Mercedes has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to one very important quality: Fuel economy.

New for 2013 is the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec, which employs a 2.1L turbodiesel engine, good for an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. For a car weighed down with luxury features, that's really solid.

I spent the Fourth of July holiday outside of Seattle in a small cabin on an island with very, very few gas stations. I hoped that the GLK's smaller and more efficient turbo-diesel engine would allow me to explore the island and indulge a bit in the yuppie lifestyle (yes, I did go to the local farmer's market) without sweating the possibility of running out of fuel somewhere in a forested state park. Read on to see how the luxury SUV performed.

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The Basics

The Basics

Sticker Price: $38,590

Invoice Price: $35,889

Engine: 2.1L turbodiesel I4

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Performance: 200 horsepower, 369 lb-ft of torque

Fuel Economy: 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway

Seating: 5 people

Cargo Capacity: 54.7 cubic feet

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Exterior Design

Exterior Design

The GLK has an interesting look. It grew on me. After several days of seeing it parked out in front of the cabin, I really started to like it. It's really quite unique. It's noticeably tall and boxy, which gives it a rugged look, similar to some of the Jeeps of old. The angular headlights look like diamonds jammed in the front fascia. Big jagged taillights interrupt the trapezoidal geometry of the rear.

Although it doesn't look like anything else on the road right now, I think it's lovable. It's like the G-Class and GL-Class had a child together that's currently going through an awkward growth spurt. And I think it totally works. It looked perfectly in place parked on the side of a dirt road amid the towering evergreen trees.

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Interior

Interior

For 2013, Mercedes gave the GLK some interior updates, which include improved aesthetics, softer touch points all around, a new center console and updated infotainment. It's not the plushest cabin, but it's certainly worthy of the "luxury" distinction. The leather seats are great and the ride is remarkably quiet, which is immensely important, given the loud growl produced by the diesel engine. When seated inside, its barely audible.

I spent several hours driving the GLK around the Pacific Northwest and experienced hardly any driver fatigue. Even the two hours I spent waiting in line to board the Mukilteo Ferry flew by courtesy of this Benz's stellar audio system (and Spotify) and giant sunroof, which I opened in order to enjoy some rays and sea breeze.

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Passenger And Cargo Space

Passenger And Cargo Space

Up front, passenger room is great. The tall roof of the GLK gives the driver and front-seat passenger all the headroom they need. Leg and shoulder room is quite good, too.

The back seat, however, is a little disappointing. If you're of average height or taller, it's virtually guaranteed that you're going to be craving more legroom. I had both adult males and females ride in the back, and while none of them expressed serious discomfort, they all noted that their legs were pushed up against the front seats and said that a couple extra inches could go a long way.

Cargo capacity is decent. The trunk isn't as cavernous as some other luxury SUVs, but I could fit the luggage of four people along with a couple blankets and groceries in the trunk.

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Driving Dynamics

Driving Dynamics

The GLK250 Bluetec offers a pretty inoffensive ride. Handling isn't as sporty as a BMW X3, but the steering is still responsive. The car feels very smooth on the road and wind, road and engine noise are at a minimum. Basically, it's a Mercedes, meaning it's super comfortable to drive.

One of the drawbacks to having a diesel vehicle is the turbo lag, which is a term used to refer to the time it takes for the turbocharger to fill with exhaust and provide that boost of extra power. Most of the time, this lag makes the car feel jerky when you're accelerating from a stop. While the GLK certainly is no exception to the rule, the lag really isn't all that noticeable, especially compared to other diesels I've driven.

The GLK250 Bluetec also comes with Mercedes' highly capable 4MATIC all-wheel drivetrain. This allows the vehicle to easily tackle adverse weather conditions and, for the bold, the off-road terrain necessary to drop those kayaks in.

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Tech And Infotainment

Tech And Infotainment

The infotainment system is perfectly functional, giving me very few issues. But the design of the user interface feels like it was an afterthought. The graphics and font look like they were halfheartedly thrown in. Since this is a Mercedes, and the rest of the interior is so well done, the uninspiring look of the infotainment interface really sticks out.

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Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Because it's luxurious, attractive and highly capable, the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec is a great option for a luxury SUV. But what makes it even better is its fuel economy. Luxury SUVs tend to be weigh a lot with bigger engines and added features, significantly reducing mpg numbers. The GLK250 Bluetec is able to avoid this fate by employing the highly efficient, yet powerful 2.1L turbodiesel. Doing so allows the vehicle to achieve 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Between a mix of the two types of driving, I got about 32 mpg over the course of my trip. For a very comfortable, versatile vehicle that's pretty great.

This vehicle is close to being the total package. A little more rear legroom and a refreshed infotainment system are two improvements I'd like to see. But, all in all, if you're in the market for a luxury SUV I'd recommend you put this near the top of your list.

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