|Mercedes-Benz GLK350 Photo Gallery||Mercedes-Benz GLK350 Specs|
By Twain Mein
- Base price: $36,600 (w/4MATIC option)
- Impressive acceleration for a crossover (0-60 in 6.5 seconds)
- Striking styling
- Excellent fit and finish
- Expensive as tested: $50,235
- Slow shifting automatic
- Mediocre gas mileage (16mpg observed)
- Firm suspension
- Cramped rear seat
Built on the C-class car platform, with styling and heritage of the famous G-class Gelandewagen, the Mercedes GLK350 is an attractively styled “mini” luxury SUV. It’s a spunky utility vehicle that offers quiet and secure ride with good acceleration and practicality.
The GLK350 is the Maurice Jones-Drew of SUVs. Its burly shoulders and pugnacious snout announce your entrance. It’s got an athletic chassis and powerful 268 horsepower motor that launches you from 0-60 in just 6.5 seconds. Even my wife (who normally doesn’t pay much mind to the cars I test) was intrigued by it’s styling and practicality.
Performance and Handling
The engine in the GLK350 is impressive. Burbling at half-throttle and under, it opens up aggressively and sprints this 4200 pound beast to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. 235/45-20 tires are sticky and provide secure handling despite a somewhat top-heavy feel. The short wheelbase, however, contributed to a slightly choppy ride and it felt over-damped as it was a bit jarring going over speed bumps. This being said, it’s incredible how an SUV can feel sportscar-like driven 8/10s. It was a joy to drive over mountain roads as we headed out to the pumpkin patch.
My biggest gripe with the GLK was its 7-speed transmission. Stuck at an awkward intersection (and with two hungry screaming kids), I was forced to shift into reverse quickly to get out of traffic. The electronically controlled transmission paused for too-many milliseconds before suddenly engaging with a thud. And on the freeway, there seemed to be a lot of drivetrain lag as well; the car slowed dramatically after pulling your foot off the accelerator.
For enthusiastic drivers with heavy feet, our observed 16 mpg combined mileage was disappointing. A more conservative driving style will net you almost 20 mpg overall.
Interior comfort and ergonomics
The interior is nicely appointed with comfortably firm seats in elegant leather. The somewhat stark black dash was complemented by burl wood dash, metallic trim pieces, and cool blue instrumentation. For the first time, I really appreciated the Sirius satellite radio; our kids were spellbound as we listened to “The Shadow” on the way to pick up pumpkins for Halloween.
Space-wise, the front is a bit compact as I maxed out the seat room (at 6 feet tall). Rear seat room was a bit of a disappointment; three kids across were cramped, and legroom was scarce; I was hoping for more room. The trunk is nicely appointed but offers just 23 cubic feet of storage behind the second seat; for comparison, the Audi Q5 has 6 more and the Lexus RX350 has a whopping 17 more.
Rear seats folded, the Mercedes did swallow my road bike though the front wheel had to be turned upright. Lastly, the rear hatch opens up—and though not a problem for me, my 5’2” wife had to get on her tippy toes to close it. A switch that programs the opening height of the rear hatch would have been a nice feature.
With its steep and upright windshield, large mirrors, and spunky grille, the GLK is aggressive looking though at a ¾ size. Coupled with the massive 20 inch wheels and low profile tires, I actually liked the styling of the Mercedes. It’s distinctive and aggressive.
Mercedes personifies the expression “vault-like”. Heavy doors close with a thud. Firm seats and purposeful yet elegant interior reinforce the driving experience. Even the steering is slightly heavy feeling, reinforcing the build style of Mercedes.
Pitted against its rivals, the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60, and Lexus RX 350, the GLK350 offers distinctive styling and famous Mercedes build quality. In fact, I think it’s the best looking of the bunch. However, it is more expensive, and, in general, has less interior space, and poorer fuel economy. At its base price, the GLK offers the distinctive styling, killer engine, terrific build quality, and good handling. As tested, at over $50,000, however, it isn’t the best value in its category.
||2nd Row Rear
|2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350||268 hp 3.5L V6||data n/a||35.1 inches||178.2 inches||16/22||$34,600|
|2010 Lincoln MKX FWD||265 hp 3.5L V6||data n/a||39.6 inches||186.5 inches||18/25||$38,845|
|2010 Lexus RX 350 FWD||275 hp 3.5L I6||100.9 ft3||36.8 inches||187.8 inches||18/25||$37,625|
|2010 Acura RDX FWD w/Tech Pkg||240 hp 2.3L I4||101.4 ft3||37.7 inches||182.5 inches||19/24||$35,620|
|2010 Volvo XC60 3.2 FWD||235 hp 3.2L V6||data n/a||36.4 inches||182.2 inches||18/27||$32,395|
|2010 Audi Q5 Quattro Premium||270 hp 3.2L V6||101.5 ft3||37.4 inches||182.2 inches||18/23||$37,350|
|2010 BMW X3 xDrive30i||260 hp 3.0L I6||90.1 ft3||35.8 inches||179.9 inches||17/24||$38,850|
Like No Other, Little Brother
It’s remarkable how auto makers truly make cars for every desire. The GLK350 offers unique styling, all wheel drive security, and SUV practicality with good handling and a snappy engine. If price isn’t a huge concern, and distinctive looks are important, it’s a unique choice in the mini-suv market.
|Official website for Mercedes-Benz cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.mbusa.com|