GLK = Gut Looking Krossover
by Joe LaMuraglia
Photo by Mark Elias
Mercedes-Benz has finally gotten into the entry-level luxury crossover game with the launch of their GLK350. Based on the very competent C-Class chassis, the new GLK350 will be going head-to-head with the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Infiniti EX35 and Audi Q5 and based on initial impressions should have little difficulty standing out.
I recently drove the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK in and around Santa Barbara, CA and couldn’t help but think of the saying “better late than never”. You see, the folks from Stuttgart are late to the entry-level luxury crossover party but in this case, that may be to their advantage. They’ve had the opportunity to see what their competitors are doing and in most cases, offer a more attractive package.
The 2010 GLK350 is based on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class platform and as a result drives very much like a C-Class. It is solid, handles well and with the 3.5-liter V6 pushing out 268 horsepower, it is quite sprightly. It took great pleasure in gunning it onto the 101 during our tour of the gorgeous Santa Barbara county. It is surprisingly fast and the exhaust note has a nice growl to it under acceleration.
Clearly a Mercedes
When I posted my preview photos of the GLK350 to my Facebook Page the comments from my friends were, how shall I say it, less than kind. Most aren’t wild about the upright profile and angular design. I have to admit, when I first saw the GLK on the auto show circuit, I wasn’t too impressed with the design either. After seeing it in person and spending a day riding and driving in one, my opinion has changed.
Don’t get me wrong, the “G” doesn’t stand for “Gorgeous” but I’ll give it a solid “Good Looking”. The designers and product people from Mercedes-Benz say that the design evokes the classic G-Glass but I see more of the current GL-class. It’s almost as if the GL and C had a baby. One thing is for sure, you won’t mistake it for anything but a Mercedes-Benz.
That sentiment carries over to the interior design as well. The controls will be instantly recognizable to anyone that has ever owned a Mercedes and if you are moving up from a C-Class, you’ll have to look out the rear view mirror to remind yourself you aren’t in a sedan. The upright design and wagon/SUV body style are inherently functional and should meet the needs of most people that need the room for the occasional purchase or road trip with 4 people on board. If you need additional seating capacity or more cargo room, you’ll have to look to the larger M or GL-Class.
Keeping it Simple – A Good Thing?
Mercedes has decided to keep it simple with the GLK and offer only one trim with a few options. At launch in January 2009, it will only be available in the GLK350 trim featuring a 268 horsepower engine mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with either RWD or 4Matic AWD.
There are five option packages that allow the consumer to spec out their GLK to meet their whims. All of the cars we drove included the Premium 1 Package (Panorama Sunroof, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Power Liftgate, Rain Sensor, garage door opener, Auto-dimming mirrors, compass, driver memory seat, rear 115V power outlet) and Multimedia Package (COMAND w/ hard-drive Navigation and premium discreet sound, rearview camera, harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound system with Dolby digital 5.1, 11 speakers with 600 watts of power, larger 7-inch color display, in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD changer, 6 GB hard drive with Music Register, voice control for audio, telephone, and navigation, Gracenote media database) which I imagine most dealers will order. Additional options include an appearance package, leather seating and a lighting package.
The “keep it simple” approach makes sense until you notice that there is only one engine available and no diesel option. The 3.5 V6 is a great engine but it only generates MPG numbers of 16/21 city/hwy for the rear-wheel drive version. It is within the competitive set but towards the bottom of that group. A smaller V6 or a clean diesel with Bluetech technology would produce better MPG numbers and that is one of the reasons people are moving to smaller SUVs.
The Price is Right
While the MPG numbers are a bit disappointing, the pricing is one of the most attractive features of the GLK350. The GLK350 with rear-wheel-drive, will be priced at $33,900 and the GLK350 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, will be priced at $35,900. Add a $875 delivery fee for both trims. Considering the BMW X3 with AWD is $39,400, the GLK starts sounding like a bargain.
• Design that stands out amongst its competition
• 3.5L V6 is powerful and the dual exhaust note is hot
• Very reasonable price
• Fuel economy is no better than a full-size SUV
• Should launch with a diesel option considering all the focus on Bluetech clean-diesel technology
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 has arrived fashionably late to the party but has clearly called ahead to make sure its arrival gets attention.
Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz North America
Mercedes-Benz is a gay-friendly company.