It can get 30-plus mpg or dash to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Its Agility Control suspension corners racetrack-flat, yet its undercarriage can be armored for ramming over rough stuff. It's targeted at "Sex in the City" women, yet it wears sharp, angular styling that apes the butch GL.
Officials claim the package bestows Land Rover LR2-equivalent capability, from a combination of a Downhill-Speed Regulation system that uses engine braking and the ABS gear to creep down hills at any programmed speed from two to 11 mph. An off-road switch changes the transmission, ABS, stability control, and engine control maps to better suit loose surfaces, and underbody armor made of fiberglass-reinforced thermoplastics provides protection and keeps the hangy-downy bits from snagging on rocks. The COMAND system display shows steering angle, altimeter, and compass info in this mode. Sad to say, the two Euro diesel engines are banished--the 34-mpg 2.1-liter twin-turbo four and the 30-mpg, 3.0-liter variable-nozzle turbo V-6. That'll leave us with a 22-mpg 3.5-liter gas V-6 spinning a seven-speed and 4Matic all-wheel drive (rear drive follows a few months later) wearing the fanciest walnut trim, standard dual sunroofs, and 19- or 20-inch wheels.
Let's be honest, although it's a pity, the 4Matic's fixed 45/55 front/rear torque split, traction control, and 7.9 inches of ground clearance will get us where we're going, and the big wheels, fat tires, and taut suspenders are antithetical to billy-goating anyway. We think it's a bad idea not bringing over the diesels; of course, brisk demand for Bluetec MLs and GLs could earn the littlest M-B a better engine choice for the next model year. Cross your fingers for the teched-out four, featuring piezo-electric injectors squirting fuel at over 29,000 psi, dual overhead camshafts driven by gears from the back of the block, and sequential turbos--a small one that spools up quickly at low revs, and a big one for higher speeds. The GLK220 CDI only trails the GLK350 by two seconds to 60 mph, and by achieving 50-percent-better fuel consumption its owners could recover their $1000-$2000 option price during a typical lease, even at today's diesel fuel prices.
The baby-GL styling looks sharp on the road and cuts through the wind with a 0.34 drag coefficient--impressive for such a blocky vehicle. The tall greenhouse and standard twin-sunroof provide spectacular visibility. The total cargo area is smaller than the ML's, but it's configured for slightly more width, meaning that two golf bags can fit sideways on the floor without removing the drivers. A handy cargo net folds in half and rolls up for easy storage in the space above the minispare, below the cargo deck. The GLK's sound system can connect to and control an iPod and a USB stick at the same time, and Bluetooth audio streaming is just around the corner.