Reviews

2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Walk Around

The Mercedes-Benz GLK looks about like what you'd think a Mercedes compact SUV should look like.

The exterior design of the GLK oozes a whole lot of GL-Class, the big full-size SUV. The GLK silhouette is upright and angular, but its boxy shape is surprisingly aerodynamic, thanks in part to a deep hood and rising side character lines. To get technical, the Mercedes-Benz GLK earns an admirable 0.35 drag coefficient in the wind tunnel, which bests many curve-wielding, lower-riding, passenger cars, as well as most of its direct competitors.

The GLK is shorter in overall length than the other cars in the class, it's nearly five inches shorter than the BMW X3 and two inches shorter in wheelbase.

The GLK was launched as a 2010 model and shares its basic structure with the C-Class compact sedan. It carries over to 2011 largely unchanged.

The new AMG package is all show, no go, adding only appearance features, not performance features. Don't expect the AMG 20-inch wheels to soften the ride, and 19-inch wheels are standard. Our preference is for the non-AMG GLK.

Interior

Inside, the GLK is a Mercedes-Benz through and through. The GLK reuses many elements from the C-Class interior, but with a much more angular instrument panel and dashboard layout. Dashtop panels in the GLK are made of black, anti-glare materials.

Interior space is a mixed bag compared with the other vehicles in the GLK. The BMW X3 has another inch of headroom in the front seats, though the Mercedes has more front legroom.

The rear seats offer substantially more headroom than what's found in the BMW X3 or Infiniti EX, though legroom suffers in the Mercedes. It seems like the GLK gives up some rear legroom to gain front room, which seems like a good trade to us. After all, back-seat riders typically don't make car payments, so they don't deserve as much legroom as you do. But if you have tall, lanky teens in the family, you might want to look at that.

Maximum cargo space is listed at 54.7 cubic feet, with the load compartment measuring 66 inches long. That's slightly less than what's available in the BMW X3 or Infiniti EX. The Lexus RX has vastly more cargo space due to its longer overall length. The rear-seat backrests fold down in a 33/67 split or fold down completely to produce a flat load floor. With the rear seats are up, the load compartment of the GLK350 has a capacity of 23.3 cubic feet when loaded to the top edge of the rear-seat backrests.

An additional stowage compartment is hidden under the fold-up load floor. This compartment is split into smaller partitions by a removable stowage tub.

A safety partition net is available, handy for cargo and possibly dogs. The load compartment can be hidden from sight thanks to the load compartment cover, while standard-fit load-securing rings make it easier to fasten down cargo. There are bag hooks, coat hooks in the tailgate trim, a 12-volt power outlet and a lamp at the side of the load compartment.

A power tailgate is available that can be opened and closed at the push of a button, either from the driver's seat or by remote control.

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