With vehicles like the BMW X3, Acura RDX, and Land Rover LR2 already on the ground, the other German automakers are playing catch-up. Audi is on the scene with the new 2009 Q5—and now, Mercedes-Benz introduces the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK.
A compact crossover with a big three-pointed star up front and a big price tag in the mid-$30,000s, the Mercedes GLK joins a fast-growing clique of expensive compact crossovers with a hard-edged look that's the exact opposite tack taken by the competition, except Land Rover. The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK doesn't bear the family resemblance to the next-bigger Benz ML-Class. It's far more like the seven-passenger GL-Class that's a favorite of TheCarConnection.com's editors—yet, at the same time, it's also a dead ringer for a range of mid-'90s Japanese crossovers like the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander. The overall look is clean and distinctive, but one that might have to grow on upscale buyers. Inside, it's more of the same—the GLK's instrument panel bears a striking resemblance to BMW interiors, and there's a wide swath of wood trim that helps dress up some of the obvious plastics and some of the retro references.
There's a single engine and transmission combination, for now, in the 2010 GLK. When it goes on sale in the spring, it will be powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine. That ample power is transmitted to the road through 4MATIC four-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission. In this configuration, the GLK's estimated highway fuel economy settles in at 22 mpg. Later, Mercedes promises, rear-drive and diesel-powered GLKs will be added to the lineup. The gas-powered version hits 60 mph in about 6.7 seconds, according to company estimates, and the powertrain's an ample producer of smooth highway swiftness.