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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
Rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds
V-6 and seven-speed team well together for brisk acceleration
Handling is quite sporty, and performance is solid
Car and Driver
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK looks like an SUV and is billed as a luxury compact SUV, but its performance leans much more toward large sedan—that is, it accelerates faster and turns better than its styling would lead you to expect.
With the new Mercedes-Benz GLK350, Mercedes bucks the trend of offering myriad engine and powertrain options and instead simply provides consumers with one take-it-or-leave-it powerplant—for now. Next year, a diesel will join the line.
According to Cars.com, that sole powerplant is "a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6" that moves the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 with aplomb. Car and Driver reports that "Mercedes claims the 4050-pound [Mercedes-Benz] GLK350 can hit 60 from a standstill in 6.5 seconds, which seems plausible" based on their test drives of this new compact SUV. MyRide.com raves "there are few engines out there that combine strength, smoothness and fuel efficiency so seamlessly," and other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com affirm the opinion. ConsumerGuide points out that the 2010 Mercedes GLK's "V6 provides good acceleration around town and for highway merging," while Cars.com notes that the strong engine means the "GLK350 is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds."
Pairing up with the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK's admirable V-6 is what MyRide.com calls an "equally polished seven-speed automatic transmission" that is both "crisp and efficient." ConsumerGuide adds "smooth and responsive" to the list of adjectives describing the seven-speed transmission, while Car and Driver notes that the "standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system uses the stability control system to govern wheel speed both uphill and down to great effect." The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK's automatic also features a "clutchless-manual setting if you prefer to control shifts yourself," according to Cars.com, which adds that the transmission "includes Comfort and Sport modes."
Despite carlike acceleration numbers and handling, the 2010 Mercedes GLK still suffers from traditionally poor SUV fuel economy. Car and Driver reports that "gas mileage is merely average" on the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. Those same reviewers add that the "GLK's middling estimated fuel economy figures of 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway won't scare away the competition." Realizing those numbers might be enough to scare away potential customers, Mercedes-Benz will offer a more fuel-efficient rear-drive model and a diesel option in the near future.
Out on the open road, reviewers are surprised at just how composed and agile the 2010 Mercedes GLK is. Car and Driver reports that "the GLK drives rather like a bigger, taller C350 sedan" with "handling [that] is quite sporty." Cars.com adds that "the taut suspension controls body motions, but doesn't do so at the expense of passenger comfort," which is also admirable on the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK. Motor Trend notes that the GLK350 "feels extremely stable at three-digit autobahn speeds" thanks to "clever purely mechanical shock valves [that] provide soft damping over small bumps and vibrations, then stiffen up on the big stuff to deliver a ride that's still Euro taut but feels more supple than the BMW X3's or Acura RDX's." MyRide.com simply states that the GLK350's "road manners are exemplary." Among the few complaints regarding the GLK350's performance characteristics, Cars.com laments the "significant amount of brake pedal travel that's required to initiate strong braking," and while "the brakes have good linearity," it would still be "nicer if they were more responsive higher in the pedal's travel."
Poor fuel economy is expected in an SUV like the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK, but the brisk acceleration and strong handling are welcome surprises.