For decades, Mercedes-Benz offered only coupes, sedans station wagons and convertibles in the U.S. market. There was only one SUV in the product portfolio, the G-Class, but it wasn't sold in the United States until a few years ago. Then came the M-Class mid-size SUV, the big R-Class crossover, and the big GL-Class.
Now comes the compact GLK-Class. It was to look like a GL, act like a G-Class off-road, and be shorter, lighter, and more economical to own and drive than some of the larger SUVs in the lineup.
The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is the first compact SUV ever built by Mercedes and was designed to compete with the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX, Infiniti EX, Lexus RX, and Land Rover LR2. While the ML, GL, and R class are built in Alabama, the GLK-Class is built at the Mercedes plant in Bremen, Germany.
Initially, the lineup consists of the GLK350 with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and seven-speed automatic transmission. It comes with rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The GLK-Class looks like the big GL, but it doesn't offer as much space inside. It seats five and offers nearly 55 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded down.
We found the new GLK-Class behaves more like an E-Class sedan than a truck. The suspension quietly soaks up bumps. It accelerates quickly and cruises easily at high speeds and gets about 22 mpg on the highway. Off road it performs brilliantly. The new 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system keeps it going through mud and over rocks.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 ($34,600) and GLK350 4MATIC ($36,600). A GLK220 CDI diesel is expected to follow.
Safety gear that comes standard includes front, side-impact, and roof curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), Brake Assist, traction control, yaw control come standard. 4MATIC all-wheel drive is available, which is transparent to the driver and completely computer-controlled.