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New compact SUV feels like a Mercedes.

For decades, Mercedes-Benz offered only coupes, sedans station wagons
and convertibles in the U.S. market. There was only one SUV in the
product portfolio, the G-Class, but it wasn’t sold in the United States
until a few years ago. Then came the M-Class mid-size SUV, the big
R-Class crossover, and the big GL-Class.

Now comes the compact GLK. It was to look like a GL, act like a G-Class
off-road, and be shorter, lighter, and more economical to own and drive
than some of the larger SUVs in the lineup.

The Mercedes-Benz GLK is the first compact SUV ever built by Mercedes
and was designed to compete with the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX,
Infiniti EX, Lexus RX, and Land Rover LR2. While the ML, GL, and R
class are built in Alabama, the GLK is built at the Mercedes plant in
Bremen, Germany.

Initially, the lineup consists of the GLK350 with a 3.5-liter V6 engine
and seven-speed automatic transmission. It comes with rear-wheel drive
or 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

The GLK looks like the big GL, but it doesn’t offer as much space
inside. It seats five and offers nearly 55 cubic feet of cargo space
with the rear seats folded down.

We found the new GLK behaves more like an E-Class sedan than a truck.
The suspension quietly soaks up bumps. It accelerates quickly and
cruises easily at high speeds and gets about 22 mpg on the highway. Off
road it performs brilliantly. The new 4Matic all-wheel-drive system
keeps it going through mud and over rocks.

Model Lineup

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 ($33,900) and GLK350 4MATIC ($35,900). A GLK220 CDI diesel is expected to follow.

Safety gear that comes standard includes front, side-impact, and roof
curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), Brake Assist, traction
control, yaw control come standard. 4Matic all-wheel drive is
available, which is transparent to the driver and completely
computer-controlled.

By Jim McCraw [NewCarTestDrive]

 
 
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