2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK

Initially, all GLKs will be powered by a DOHC, 3.5-liter V-6 making 268 horsepower; Mercedes's superb seven-speed automatic is also standard. Down the line, the maker will also offer the GLK with diesel power, likely the turbocharged 2.1-liter "BlueEfficiency" four (offered in Europe as the GLK220 CDI) or perhaps even the diesel-electric mild hybrid shown at this year's Geneva Motor Show. With the 3.5-liter gas six, Mercedes claims an impressive 0-to-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. Fuel economy is projected at 23 mpg on the highway.

Inside, the GLK offers ample shoulder room and good overall visibility. Standard equipment on U.S. models will include dual-zone climate control, navigation, COMAND multi-media control, crisp leatherette, and Bluetooth. Options include leather, a rear-view backup camera, and a Panorama sunroof. While the Euro-spec GLK you see here features aluminum interior trim, U.S. models will sport Sienna pine wood accents.

Expect the GLK350 to sticker for about $38,000 when it reaches dealers early next year. Compared with the X3, the Benz brings more power and torque, an additional cog in the transmission, superior interior room, and, based on our drive in Spain, a more solid and "SUV-like" character. A full-on comparo test -- including other rivals like the Land Rover LR2, Volvo XC60, and Audi Q5 -- awaits later this year.