Finally, Mercedes has made an everyday SUV that is rave worthy. I could go on for hours about the G wagon, which could probably drive on the moon, but that’s not considered a daily driver SUV by most of us.
No, the Mercedes SUV that has left me impressed is the new 2010 GLK 350. It’s the first in the Mercedes lineup that drives like a Mercedes sedan. It’s the Mercedes for the person who wants to combine an SUV with the legendary luxury of the Mercedes sedan. To me, it’s the Mercedes C class you wouldn’t mind getting dirty.
Lest anybody accuse me of plagiarism, I want to include this quotation from the Mercedes press material verbatim because it is spot on: “At first glance, the new GLK appears to be a smaller version of the GL, but a closer look reveals a modern interpretation of the iconic G-Class. In sharp contrast to the relatively soft forms of other similar-sized vehicles, the striking, angular nose of the GLK sets it apart from the competition.”
Not quite sure the politically correct way to put this, but Mercedes SUVs (except for the G wagon) are pretty wimpy looking. They tend to say “Bloated sedan coming through.” They lack attitude. I like the GLK because it doesn’t strive for anonymity. It makes a bold statement just like Mercedes used to make with everything it sold. OK, time to steal one more line from the press kit: “(T)he bullish shape of the new GLK suggests power and agility.”
The GLK350 is powered by 268-horsepower, a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 258 lb-ft of torque. It leaves a driver wanting for nothing in any situation. Mercedes says its 0-60 time is a downright spirited 6.5 seconds for its two-ton weight. This is a true Autobahn crawler so it likes to run along seamlessly at 80 mph forever. So, it’s best to use cruise control, especially during a holiday weekend.
There’s just one problem. The cruise control system Mercedes has is despicable. It’s a stick on the left side of the steering wheel that your fingers constantly think are the turn signals. Now, I read a surprising statistic recently that only 10 percent of drivers use their turn signals, but I’m still old fashion. About the only time I don’t use them is when I’ve inadvertently engaged the cruise control instead.
The GLK also presents a comfortable level of safety. Standard equipment includes front and side air bags as well as window and knee air bags. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive system comes with electronic stability control and adaptive braking, which features hill-start assist, priming of the brake system for more spontaneous response in the event of panic braking and using braking to dry the discs in wet weather. An additional safety boost comes from the headlight system with integrated cornering light function and headlamp assist.
I’m a bulky guy so I don’t complain when a vehicle presents a challenge because I’m the problem. However, I do like compact vehicles that welcome my entrance. The GLK 350 is an easy vehicle to get in and out of. Passenger comfort is great. Two six footers can sit behind one another comfortably as demonstrated during a recent press trip to upstate New York.
I was at Bear Mountain to take part in an International Motor Press Association event called Spring Brake (clever name, don’t you think?). Anyway, the day involved the opportunity to drive up to 55 different makes and models. At the end of the day, I found myself wanting to get behind the wheel of the GLK. I liked it so much that I finagled an extra day in it.
The one thing I don’t like about the GLK, but mostly because I’m cheap, is its required 91 octane. This SUV would be perfect in my book if it ran on 87 octane (or better yet came in a diesel version). It’s EPA rated at 16-mpg city and 22-mpg highway. Neither number is going to blow your socks off, especially with the more expensive recommended fuel.
The new GLK350, with standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, is priced at $35, 900, plus an $875 destination fee. The GLK350 with rear-wheel-drive is priced at $33,900 plus the $875 delivery fee. Frankly, I don’t find this pricey at all for a Mercedes SUV.
(Questions and comments about this review and other automotive concerns can be e-mailed to [email protected] All queries are answered.)
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 Specifications
Wheelbase: 108.5 inches
Length: 178.3 inches
Width: 79.4 inches
Height: 66.9 inches
Curb weight: 4036 lbs.
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Horsepower: 268 hp
Torque: 258 lb. ft.
EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/22
Base price: $33,900
As-tested price: $35,900
Also consider: Acura RDX, Mazda CX7, Volvo XC60