2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
April 26, 2009

The smaller, nimbler 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK sport-ute comes to America at just the right time.

TheCarConnection.com's car experts researched Web reviews for the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK to compile this full review. TheCarConnection.com's editors also drove the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK in order to sort through the opinions they found on the Web, to find a consensus among online car-review Web sites, and to help you get to the truth where reviewers had differing opinions.

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.

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The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK is obviously not tuned for off-roading, since it responds instantly to minor squeezes on the gas pedal. Shift paddles also underscore that this crossover SUV is truly meant for the open road, not the boulder-strewn one. European buyers get an Off-Road Engineering package that outfits it properly, but not American buyers. Even so, the 4MATIC system isn't without value. The four-wheel-drive system adjusts as the various traction systems determine where torque is needed most; in on-road driving, it can prove very useful in foul-weather driving. On the road, the GLK's light-touch steering and adaptive "Agility Control" suspension give it a friendlier feel than the Land Rover ute, and one quite similar to the BMW X3.

The GLK's cabin and cargo areas are roomy and upright, which means taller drivers will find a comfortable seating position. The front seats in the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK are supportive and nicely tailored, and the adjustable and telescoping steering wheel make it easy for TheCarConnection.com's experts to find a great driving position. In the second row, the three-person bench has good enough knee room and headroom, plus the seats flip and fold to create a cargo area of 54.7 cubic feet. The chief complaint in the GLK, and a minor one, is that the cabin doesn't feel as richly appointed as some Benz vehicles, and the retro-ish styling doesn't help.

There's been no scrimping in terms of safety. The glassy, tall-roofed, slim-pillared GLK has few issues with visibility. And it features all the expected safety gear, including standard front, side, and curtain airbags, as well as stability control.
The 2010 GLK's standard equipment list is comprehensive. It includes 19-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, power front seats, leather trim, a panoramic sunroof, and Bluetooth connectivity. A six-CD changer, Sirius Satellite Radio, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a power liftgate, a navigation system, and 20-inch wheels are among the options.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

Styling

Fans of squared-off, retro styling will find a certain appeal to the new 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK profile, which stands in stark contrast to most competing models.

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK is hard to classify—on the one hand, the three-pointed star up front and sharp lines are unmistakably Mercedes, but the overall upright look puts off more than a few reviewers. The various reviews read by TheCarConnection.com fail to reach a consensus on whether or not this is a good design for Mercedes, and only time will tell if consumers approve of the 2010 Mercedes GLK's appearance.

The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz GLK-350 is small, in accordance with its compact SUV classification, but that doesn't mean it lacks presence. Quite the contrary, in fact, as Car and Driver notes that the "butch SUV styling" of this mini-Mercedes is hard to ignore. Car and Driver reviewers are firmly in favor of the styling, cooing that "the only thing truly surprising about the [Mercedes-Benz GLK-350]: that it has buckets of charm...everything works as a cohesive and likable package." Other reviewers aren't as enthusiastic, and Automobile Magazine reports that "some think the car looks like a Subaru Forester (not a compliment)." Cars.com contends that the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK "looks a little bit like a shrunken version of the automaker's larger GL-Class" and that the GLK "wears this look rather well, with enough design cues in the sheet metal to keep things interesting." MyRide.com generally concurs with that sentiment, although they say "it's hard to agree with the Mercedes executive who called the GLK 'sexy.'"

With such mixed reviews of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK, the best solution is probably to visit your local Mercedes dealer, especially since Car and Driver says that, even though it will "never be an object of lust," the 2010 Mercedes GLK looks "much better in person and on the road than you'd expect (certainly better than any Forester)."

Inside the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a retro-themed interior that also elicits mixed reactions from reviewers. Automobile Magazine once again comments that "some like the retro squared-shapes interior quite well; others just think it looks old." Car and Driver says the 2010 Mercedes GLK's "interior basically repackages the features found on the C350 in a blocky, chunky package" that echoes the Mercedes look from the 1980s but might not strike the right chord with today's luxury buyers. On the positive side, Cars.com feels that "most controls are logically arranged, and numerous features are accessible in multiple ways," while Consumer Guide reports that "the gauges are easy to read."

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

Performance

Poor fuel economy is expected in an SUV like the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK, but the brisk acceleration and strong handling are welcome surprises.

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."

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

Comfort & Quality

The comfortable ride and accommodating seats of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK are designed for long-distance cruising.

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK combines a high-quality interior with a comfortable—and usable—cabin that luxury buyers will appreciate. However, some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com point out that the interior materials, while nice, don't quite live up to the high expectations people hold of Mercedes vehicles.

The spacious, upright Mercedes-Benz GLK350 boasts plenty of interior space for even the tallest passengers. Car and Driver attests that the interior "ergonomics are sound," with "plenty of space for legs and heads, front and rear." Up front, Cars.com says that "the front bucket seats have supple cushioning and are supportive thanks to a long bottom cushion," while ConsumerGuide declares that "headroom and legroom are ample for six footers." The only complaint, if you could call it that, regarding the front seats comes from Automobile Magazine, which comments that "seat side bolsters would be useful in severe off-roading or high-speed cornering, neither of which is particularly likely with this vehicle." Reviews of the 2010 Mercedes GLK's rear bench seat are mixed, as Cars.com reports that "the backseat is fairly tight for adult passengers," although ConsumerGuide feels that "six footers will find generous headroom in back, even under the optional panoramic sunroof." However, ConsumerGuide does warn that "legroom and knee space can be lacking for taller passengers if the front seats are pushed all the way back."

In terms of cargo space, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK is competitive within its class. Cars.com reports that the "GLK350's cargo area measures 23.3 cubic feet," but "with the backseat folded there's 54.7 cubic feet of total cargo space." Compared to other Mercedes-Benz models, Motor Trend says "total cargo area is smaller than the MLs, [but] it's configured for slightly more width," which means that the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 can hold "two golf bags...sideways on the floor." Another plus on the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK is the fact that, with the rear seats folded, the GLK350 offers "an almost flat load surface measuring 65.9 inches long," according to reviewers at MyRide.com.

The retro-themed interior of the 2010 Mercedes GLK features the usual assortment of upscale materials that buyers have come to expect, although perhaps not used quite as liberally as in some other Mercedes vehicles. Cars.com notes that the interior is "trimmed in high-grade materials," but Motor Trend points out that "the matte-finish sienna pine trim" on Euro-spec versions of the GLK350 "is arguably more interesting" than the "glossy burled walnut trim" on U.S.-bound versions. One other surprising comment comes from ConsumerGuide, which reports that "the standard upholstery is vinyl, but leather is available." On the positive side, ConsumerGuide proclaims that the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class's "interior is solidly assembled."

Most reviewers find the 2010 Mercedes GLK cruises like a luxury vehicle, which is to say it offers a relatively quiet ride. Cars.com notes that "ambient and wind noise are effectively muted," and "even when accelerating aggressively, engine noise isn't intrusive."

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

Safety

Mercedes-Benz maintains its reputation for safety features with the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK.

Mercedes-Benz has long been an industry leader in developing and adopting cutting-edge safety features on its vehicles, and the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK reaps many of the rewards of Mercedes' decades of work in this department.

Like most new models, the 2010 Mercedes GLK has not yet been crash-tested by either NHTSA or the IIHS, the two major crash-testing authorities in the United States. Stay tuned to TheCarConnection.com for the latest updates on the crash-test ratings of this and other 2010 models.

Despite the fact that it hasn't been crash-tested yet, TheCarConnection.com's editors are comfortable giving the Mercedes-Benz GLK350 high marks in the safety category thanks to its impressive array of safety features. Cars.com reports that "standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, an electronic stability system and active front head restraints." MyRide.com, meanwhile, observes that the advanced stability and traction systems incorporate "a vast tier of electronic safety nets [that are] always at the ready" when you're driving the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK. The 2010 Mercedes GLK's advanced systems are commanded by "a central control center that relies on numerous sensors to anticipate a collision and take appropriate measures before impact occurs," according to MyRide.com.

One feature of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 that certainly enhances its overall safety score is the outstanding driver visibility afforded by the upright design. Car and Driver says the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK's "upright windows complement the seating position for extremely good outward viewing," while MyRide.com raves about the "excellent outward vision." Motor Trend agrees, pointing out that the "standard twin-sunroof" design helps to "provide spectacular visibility" for both the driver and passengers inside the 2010 Mercedes GLK.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class

Features

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK is a compact SUV that boasts full-size entertainment and technology features.

Mercedes-Benz has been a tech pioneer for quite some time in the automotive industry, combining cutting-edge features with an impeccable luxury finish. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that, with the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK, the German automaker will likely retain its well-deserved reputation.

The Mercedes-Benz GLK350 comes standard with an array of luxury features that won't surprise anyone, given the logo riding prominently on the grille. What might surprise some is the Mercedes-Benz GLK350's sticker price, which Cars.com says is "one of the lower base prices in this segment, but the total rises quickly when you add some options." Options aren't always necessary, however, as the base 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK boasts more than enough amenities to satisfy many consumers. Motor Trend predicts that "multimediaphiles will revel in the sound system's ability to connect to and control both an iPod AND a USB stick at the same time," while MyRide.com points out that, "as expected in any Mercedes, luxury abounds." MyRide.com elaborates by noting that "eight-way power front seats, Bluetooth connectivity, [a] huge sunroof, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and 8-speaker sound system" are also included in the base price for the 2010 Mercedes GLK.

Sometimes, what comes standard just isn't enough, despite the obvious appeal of many of the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK's features. For those who desire a bit more, Car and Driver reports that there are "lots of sybaritic options" available on the 2010 Mercedes GLK, although they warn that this SUV gets "pricey when outfitted with all the gizmos." First up is the upholstery; while Cars.com says that the "seats are finished in standard MB-Tex simulated leather," customers have the option of upgrading to the "$1,750 Full Leather Seating Package," which, as you might expect, brings "real leather upholstery" to the 2010 Mercedes GLK's interior. Other packages include the Premium Package, which adds a power liftgate, Sirius Satellite Radio, and rain-sensing wipers, among other features, while the "Multimedia Package goes for $3,350 and includes the Comand multifunction controller, navigation, a six-disc Harman/Kardon entertainment system and a backup camera," according to Cars.com. Mercedes-Benz has been much maligned over the first iterations of the Comand system, but Car and Driver contends that the latest version "works pretty well considering how much it can do" and features a "scroll device located rather low and to the left side of the shift lever." Rounding out the options list, according to Cars.com, are a Lighting Package ($970) that "features swiveling bi-xenon headlights with washers and LED taillights," while a "dual-screen rear entertainment system" is also available.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK Class 4MATIC 4-Door GLK 350

Big car, with small trunk

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This is my first Mercedes, and I like the car a lot. Small trunk is an issue, but after trying the GLE 500 Hybrid an even bigger car with almost 100 liter less trunk, I realized that good planing and hanger -... + More »
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