Using a Mercedes GLK 250 as a tow vehicle

I’ve always tried to make sure I use my vehicles as more than just transportation – making use of the “utility” in “sport utility vehicle” – and that goes for my current vehicle (the Keithmobile-E, a 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250) as well.

I somehow imagine that not many people use their Mercedes SUVs for much other than driving around and maybe pulling a boat or something similar – but not me!

I’ve filled the back of my GLK 250 to the roof with bags of mulch and soil (with my cargo protector in place, of course), I’ve carried large items on my roof rack, and of course I’ve towed my fair share of trailers.

The trailers I tow are mainly U-Haul utility/cargo trailers, though I’ve made use of their full capacity – hauling all kinds of things, like mulch, soil, gravel, and other heavy things. I’ve also used some of their bigger enclosed trailers for carrying furniture long distances (enclosed to protect things from the weather). And the biggest thing I towed was a huge platform trailer with a small excavator on it.

All that said, the GLK is not exactly the ideal tow vehicle – although it can pull 3500 pounds, its low tongue weight rating makes it hard sometimes to make use of that full capacity. Because the GLK is a fairly heavy vehicle on its own (around 4200 pounds curb weight), and it doesn’t have heavy-duty suspension, it’s cargo carrying capacity is somewhat limited.

That heavy weight also impacts its braking capacity – the GLK can brake fine on its own, but add a trailer and stopping distances increase quite a bit.

Also, the GLK has a fairly short wheelbase, which isn’t always ideal when towing – especially if the trailer is on the longer side.

Finally, although I have the factory tow package (which includes the 7-pin connector), the GLK is not wired for a brake controller, so adding a hard-wired one would be very involved. (Though these days there are wireless brake controllers, which is a nice compromise – and one I’ll be using with the camper trailer I’m renting this fall.)

Still, despite these shortcomings, the GLK isn’t an awful tow vehicle (it’s actually rated to tow quite a bit more in Europe due to different standards), and all things considered I’m happy to have these limitation for the other benefits it gives me (comfortable ride, small size that fits in my garage, good fuel economy, etc.).

However, the ultimate test will be the roughly 6,000 mile road trip I plan to take this fall while towing a teardrop camping trailer – so once that’s done, I’ll report back as to how the GLK really works (or doesn’t work) as a tow vehicle. Stay tuned!

Author: Keith Survell

A geek, programmer, amateur photographer, anime fan and crazy rabbit person.

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