2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK
Climbing a catwalk near you
By Carlos Lago

WE LIKE: Chassis dynamics, exacting craftsmanship.
WE DON'T LIKE: Spartan interior, tight second row.

Mercedes-Benz makes no illusions about the GLK350. Consider its role as a wardrobe accessory in "Sex and the City" or the absence of an off-road package that's available in Europe, and the image becomes clearer. The GLK, at $35,475 base, hopes to be a female-friendly gateway to the brand.

Our predominantly male judging panel offers mixed responses to the miniaturized GL- and G-Class exterior cues. St. Antoine is "really drawn to the smallish, purposeful look," adding, "the GLK has the all-business presence of a Leatherman knife or a Glock pistol." Technical editor Reynolds is less complimentary: "Can't say I care for its Forester-like, half-goofy appearance." But inside? "It has a sort of jewelbox quality." A bit empty, that box. Despite our tester's $45,125 pricetag, features came in short supply: "Seems low-rent for a Benz and the class," notes Kiino. Navigation is noticeably absent, and in its place is a tiny monochromatic display, its lack of size emphasized by a large chrome bezel. "A decidedly non-premium wart," says Loh.

The 268-horse, 3.5-liter V-6 and the solid chassis prove more than capable in the twistier sections of our loop. The steering is a point of contention, though. "You quickly learn how to point the GLK," says St. Antoine, "you guide it rather than steer it." Loh counters, "But you're able to drive very quickly. Out here it's very smooth and predictable." Kiino offers a middle ground, "Too light for my taste, but it doesn't really hinder this thing when driven aggressively. I was often surprised at the speedometer readings."

We do find agreement, though. "I like it a lot more than I did in our four-way comparison," notes Kiino. "Better than I remembered," Loh adds. "Far prefer the GLK to the RX" says St. Antoine. In our July issue, the GLK finished last to the Lexus RX 350, Volvo XC60, and Audi Q5. And while we find our opinions changing for the better, if slightly, on the Santa Maria Valley country roads, one bump from last leaves the Benz midpack. According to St. Antoine, "The Audi and the Volvo have this one covered."


2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350
Base price range $35,475-$37,475
Price as tested $45,125 (4Matic)
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 3.5L/268-hp/258-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Curb weight (f/r dist) 4169 lb (53/47%)
Wheelbase 108.5 in
Length x width x height 178.2 x 79.4 x 66.9 in
0-60 mph 6.7 sec
Quarter mile 15.1 sec @ 91.2 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 132 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.2 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)
MT observed fuel econ 16.2 mpg
EPA city/hwy fuel econ 16/21 mpg
CO2 emissions 1.08 lb/mile
RATINGS
Engineering *****
Design ****
Interior/Functionality **
Performance ****
On-road refinement ****
Off-road ability ***
Value **
BOTTOM LINE
This fall's top fashion pick.