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2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC

Mercedes-Benz

I was looking at the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and discovered that the $40,000 entry model – the Laredo – isn't available with the $5,000 diesel upgrade; the same holds true for the next step up, the Limited at $47,000. If you can afford $55,000 for the Overland, the $5,000 upgrade is available. This is the same for the Summit at $60,000. Nothing personal, but a family fellow like me would like the basic Laredo upgraded $5,000 for the diesel version. But no, we have to spend big bucks ($20,000-$25,000 more) just to get the diesel option. I cannot fathom why diesel is not offered in the entry level models. Go figure. – James in Halifax

Cato: Good to see that James has his head screwed on straight. He wants an SUV with a diesel. Of course he does. Why would anyone buy a petrol-powered SUV? All you get, versus a diesel, is less torque, inferior fuel economy, and a shorter range between fill-ups.

Diesels and SUVs were made for each other and James knows it. He's smart enough to understand, also, that there's a price premium for "clean" diesel. If not the Grand Cherokee, then, what else?

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Vaughan: Now just a minute, Cato. Before we get to other choices, would you care to explain why Chrysler wants to gouge people by only offering diesel on premium packages?

Cato: This is how the car business works. If an auto maker has something new, exciting and sure to be in demand, package it in the most expensive trim level first – and get the biggest bang. That's the game. Eventually, Chrysler will put the diesel in lesser Grand Cherokees. Eventually. A Chrysler exec put it this way when I raised the question: "We constantly make changes and adapt to the market demands."

So James should send his demands elsewhere. I'm sending him to test drive the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC – $43,500, all-wheel drive and a super-duper diesel engine.

Vaughan: I always enjoy picking a fight with you, but on this occasion I cannot. I liked the GLK even before it got the diesel because it has square, blocky, rugged looks. All Mercedes these days are swoopy and coupe-like, so you bump your head every time you get into the back seat. But the GLK reminds me of the old G-Wagon, which was first developed as a military vehicle.

Cato: Ah, the Gelandewagen – German for cross-country vehicle. A monstrous box of overkill. Only for men with small … egos.

But the GLK BlueTEC? Combined fuel economy of 7.2 litres/100 km, which beats the miniaturized Chevrolet Trax (7.7 combined) and Buick Encore (7.9). Better than the all-gas Mitsubishi RVR, the Nissan Juke, the Mazda CX-5, the Mini Countryman, the Ford Escape, the Honda CR-V and on and on.

My point: this is the power of diesel – an instant fuel economy gain of 25 per cent or so and in the GLK, a tow rating of 1,588 kilograms. A trailer hitch is a $675 option, though.

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2014 Audi Q5 Progressive TDI Audi Audi  

Vaughan: See, that's what Jeep is not doing. Jeep jacks up the price ridiculously for the diesel. I like the Mercedes strategy. It's rather like Volkswagen's, the leader in diesel sales. Diesels for the masses, I say. And Audi, also part of the mighty VW conglomerate, is onto it. In 2014 , it is bringing a whole bunch of diesels. The Q5 might be the one for Jim.

Cato: Except the 2014 Q5 TDI diesel starts at $48,700. That's a $5,000-plus price premium on the most basic GLK diesel. The Audi is a lot more muscular and I'd argue a more handsome design, too. The Merc has a smallish 2.4-litre turbodiesel – 200 horsepower/369 lb-ft of torque – while Audi has stuffed a 3.0-litre V-6 turbodiesel into the Q5. That gives it a whopping 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque. Massive.

Vaughan: This brings me to the VW Touareg. In terms of size, this one is similar to the Grand Cherokee.

Cato: I don't sense that James wants a bigger SUV, but if he does, if he wants a comparable rig size-wise to the Grand Cherokee, then it's the Touareg. He can get one for $55,275, equipped with a diesel almost identical to the one in the smaller Q5. This one's my choice for Jimbo.

Vaughan: Unfortunately Jimmy, although the Grand Cherokee is a superb vehicle, Jeep is on a "Soak the Rich" campaign. You can wait until it comes to its senses and stick one in the Laredo (and by the way, $5,000 is far too much to pay for the diesel option) or you can get the Mercedes GLK which is available now at a fair price. Just don't let them load you up with options, which is the Mercedes way.

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2014 Volkswagen Touareg Volkswagen Volkswagen  

Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.

HOW THEY COMPARE

 2014 Audi Q5 Progressive TDI2014 Volkswagen Touareg Comfortline 3.0 TDI 4MOTION2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC

Wheelbase (mm):

280728932755

Length (mm):

463947954525

Width (mm):

189819401886

Height (mm)

165517231698

Engine:

3.0-litre V-6 diesel, turbocharged3.0-litre V-6 diesel, turbocharged2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel, turbocharged

Output (horsepower/torque)

240/428 lb-ft240/406 lb-ft200/369 lb-ft

Drive system:

all-wheel driveall-wheel driveall-wheel drive

Transmission

Eight-speed automaticEight-speed automaticSeven-speed automatic

Curb weight (kg)

203022561925

Fuel economy (litres/100 km)

9.0 city/6.4 highway10.8 city/6.7 highway8.3 city/5.9 highway

Base price

$48,700$55,275$43,500

Source: car manufacturers

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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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