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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4MATIC Review

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic

Compare: Mercedes-Benz Specs and Prices-Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide

By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

The term “cute-ute” is often applied to these small crossover vehicles, be they of luxury ilk or more a modest formula. Nearly every manufacturer has now taken their small sedan platform and put a 5-passenger SUV-style structure on it, and for good reason. Development costs are minimal and the world still wants that commanding, aggressive, high-off-the-ground ambiance as well as the practicality of what is essentially a small, tall station wagon. The Mercedes Benz GLK350 may be one of the best of the genre (that is in the luxury class) with rear-wheel drive, solid feel, great performance and bold styling. Based on a C-Class platform the starting price for the GLK 4Matic (all-wheel drive) is just over 36-grand - a bit over 34-grand for the rear-wheel drive version.

First, let’s talk about the styling. Our esteemed colleague, Dan Neil of the LA Times, dissed the GLK as awkward and unattractive. I respectfully disagree. This is one of the least “white-bread” designs of the class, I think. Yes, that gaping big grille with the oversize MB symbol is a bit garish, as are many of the angular “dissonant” lines. But, from my view that boldness makes it attractive. Most designers agree that a good design is necessarily polarizing. I guess this one is.

Like the exterior, I found the interior quite attractive in that bold, brash sort of way - no Plain Jane here. Ingress and egress is good because of the height of the doors but the sill is mighty high. I kept catching my foot on it getting in. My friend Margaret, who is a little short on one end and used to be in the fashion business, commented that it was nearly impossible for her to get out without scuffing her legs on the sill - a terminal annoyance for a lady in a long dress, particularly in bad weather. The gauges and controls are conventional enough to be easily manipulated. A “central controller” manages the audio, communication and (when so equipped) the navigation system. We didn’t have the navi system in our tester but the 5-inch screen was easy to read and understand.

Interior space is good for a small vehicle. Based on the C-Class sedan platform the GLK is a bit limited in capacity but does an admirable job considering. Rear seat leg room is the only noticeable limitation. The front seats are plenty firm and generous. Cargo space is about average for the class with 23.3 cubic-feet available behind the rear seat and with rear seat folded we have 54.7 cubic-feet. The 60/40 rear seat backs fold simply and easily.

From a performance point of view it would be tough to criticize anything but the mileage and perhaps the coefficient of drag. At 16-highway and 21-city it’s on the low end of the range and a Cd of 0.35 is only slightly better than that of a brick. But it comes with some other fine numbers like zero to 60-mph time of 6.5 seconds. The 3.5-liter, 24-valve V6 with continuously variable valve timing kicks out a solid 268 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. That torque is steady from about 2,400 to 5,000 rpm. Mated to a quick-shifting, smooth 7-speed automatic with sport (manual) mode and adaptive abilities it goes like stink for a 3,900-pound car. While the engine is quiet as a mouse at idle we can hear a nice, throaty rumble from the dual exhaust when we put our foot in it.

Chassis dynamics and controls are first rate as you’d expect with such a high-tech car. ABS, ESP, rollover sensors, brake assist system, “Agility Control” selective damping, and everything else you can think of. While we didn’t have the opportunity to push the car on bad roads I would not hesitate to do so. The suspension tuning is typically German, that is, firm but compliant - certainly confidence-inspiring. This whole package, by the way, is remarkably quiet as well. Even extra-legal speeds on a rough freeway did not generate noise inside.

Base price for the GLK350 4Matic is listed at $36,600. Standard are 19-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels, dual exhaust, Bluetooth Interface, dual-zone climate control with dust filter, leather, multifunction steering wheel, roof rails, trip computer, and all the other stuff we expect on this kind of vehicle. Our test car has a $720 Steel Gray paint job, the optional “Universal Media Interface costing $1,290, the $3,150 Premium Package and the $1,750 Full Leather Seating Package. Along with the $875 destination and delivery charge our bottom line shows $45,125. While a bit pricey, I’d say it’s a pretty good value in its super premium class.

One friend asked if there will there be a diesel version coming. I had not heard of any plan by MB to bring one here but while researching the car I found some reliable information that suggests we may see a 3.2-liter Bluetec diesel version next year which will get about 22/30-mpg.

Being a rear-wheel drive vehicle the towing capacity is quite good at 3,500 pounds, and a trailer stabilizing function is built into the chassis controls.

The standard Mercedes Benz warranty covers the whole car for 4 years or 50,000 miles.

So, if you’re shopping in that crossover market that includes Acura RDX, Infinity EX 35, Land Rover LR2, BMW X3 and others of that genre you might want to include this Benz in your considerations.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

Compare: Mercedes-Benz Specs and Prices-Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide