Price: starting at $34,600
Engine: 3.5 liter V6 engine with 268 hp/258 lb. feet of torque
Mileage: 16 city/22 highway
Mercedes has a history of not quite getting it right the first time when it comes to SUVs; evidence which is easily seen in the woefully build quality and blobby styling of the first generation ML. That SUV had so much excess visual flab that it was in desperate need of an intervention by Richard Simmons.
Thankfully Mercedes is a much different car company in 2009 and all of the build quality demons have been exorcised and if the svelte shape of the GLK350 compact posh-ute is anything to go by I dare say Richard Simmons may have made a special trip to the Stuttgart design studio. No, the GLK350 isn't wearing far too revealing dolphin shorts but it does boast one of the most cohesively macho exterior designs in the segment in that case maybe we should scratch that whole Richard Simmons notion, then.
The most shocking piece of the GLK package is the fact that its base MSRP starts at $34,000 - about five grand less than a number of competitors from far less prestigious manufacturers. While you still have to shell out more for options like the easy to use COMAND system or even iPod integration this fact is true of most base model luxury-utes. That base price is just about $1,000 over the base price of a C300 sedan, while both models feature very solid, well built interiors the GLK350 comes with a larger engine as standard making it a far savvier buy.
The 3.5 liter 268 horsepower V6 is porcelain smooth in its operation and has no trouble motivating this rather heavy SUV. That is all made easier by the class leading 7-speed automatic offered by Mercedes-Benz. Lexus may have an eight speed self-shifter (hello lame one-upmanship) but that automatic is hampered by indecisiveness as to which gear it should be inas with the classic old TV show I guess Eight is Enough. The GLK350 does roll a bit in corners, however, so if you favor handling over utility and power check out the C-Class.
While most buyers will want the premium package and the technology package which includes COMAND, a 40G hard-drive to store music and navigation it is by no means necessary to order these options. Rarely has entry into the realm of the prestigious three pointed star been so easy. While the Audi Q5 may be more fun to drive the GLK350 is an excellent compact luxury SUV choice.