Mercedes Benz GLK 350 Pictures

Based on sheer quantity of models, Mercedes-Benz (DAI) is one of the giants of the SUV market, with offerings that include the G-Class, GL-Class, M-Class, and the crossover R-Class. Now, the company has added yet another "Class" to its plentiful SUV lineup—the small, easily maneuverable GLK, aimed at buyers who would like to downsize without giving up the practicality of a sport-ute.

The GLK is about the same size and weight as the BMW (BMWG.DE) X3, an aging model that's now being challenged by both Mercedes and Volkswagen's (VOWG.DE) Audi unit (with its new Q5). In this Deutsche dustup, the GLK350 is a strong competitor that I prefer to the X3 and that matches up well against the new Q5. However, there are other attractive alternatives at a lower price, notably the RDX from Honda's (HMC) Acura division and the Volvo XC60.

That said, the GLK's diminutive size, incredibly smooth ride, and classy, comfortable cabin make it an absolute joy in day-to-day driving. A peppy 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V6 makes the GLK more than quick enough for most SUV owners. Plus, the GLK's base price is relatively low, starting at $35,475 with rear-wheel drive and $37,475 with all-wheel drive. Among luxury SUVs, that's lower than the starting stickers of the X3 and the RX 350 from Toyota's (TM) luxury Lexus unit, and even a tad lower than the Audi Q5's. It's only somewhat higher than the base price of an RDX, XC60, and Land Rover LR2.

So, if you're the type of buyer who tends to go with the base model, the GLK is a relative bargain, coming standard as it does with cruise control, full power accessories, eight-way power front seats, an eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth capability, 19-inch wheels, multiple airbags, and stability and traction control. However, if you max out on options from the GLK's long and pricey list, expect to pay upward of 50 grand for this vehicle.


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