“Fine honey, you see ‘Sex in the City’ with the girls and I’ll see ‘Tropic Thunder’ with the boys!” That was how the argument ended many moons ago when we were trying to find a movie that our friends (mostly couples) could all go to. All had a joyous time.
Funny thing. A few days later my wife was asking me about some Mercedes she saw in the movie. I had no idea what she was talking about until I caught my first glimpse of the 2010 Mercedes Benz GLK 350. I found out that Mercedes used the film “Sex and the City” as a medium to give the public a glimpse of their new crossover SUV.
I was confused when my tester Mercedes Benz GLK 350 arrived. It immediately reminded me of last generation’s Subaru Forester with a ginormous three pointed star up front. Between this and the fact that it represented a show I was less than fond of – things were looking bad for the baby Benz.
I was still scratching my head over the 268 horsepower (making 258 lbs feet of torque) that had to move a machine weighing in at just over 2-tons. I mean, this is a Mercedes Benz – right? Thus far, I was polarized by the styling and thought the specifications were less than brilliant.
Then I drove it.
Hazah! This is a great driving machine. I had some qualms about the drive quality and the lack of communication from the brakes and steering. The brakes were especially vague in operation; still, this thing stopped rapidly. The steering tells the driver little through tactile sensations. On the plus side, the wee Benz went wherever I pointed at just about any speed.
Things get even better with acceleration. I was consistent with getting from 0 to 60 mph in well under 7 seconds. The 7-speed automatic transmission was smooth yet sporty with fairly quick kick-down. I was able to confuse the preprogrammed shift algorithm by quickly pulling off the accelerator immediately after a downshift. This keeps the GLK in gear – at almost any speed – for a moment or two. I do not recommend this for daily driving (when in “sport” mode).
Speaking of daily driving, the Mercedes Benz GLK 350 is a fantastic commuter (when left in “comfort” mode). It is better than many of its competitors, including the BMW X3, on the highway. The supportive seats, firm yet comfortable ride and excellent (optional) Harman/Kardon LOGIC7® with surround-sound and Dolby digital 5.1, 11 speakers with 600 watts stereo system are hard to beat. Add to that a nice 2-piece panoramic sun roof (only the front portion slides back) and a high-tech navigation system and you have a great traveling companion.
Rear seat comfort is limited and I cannot fit behind myself when the driver’s seat is all the way back. My 4-year-old was very comfortable and was even able to reach the window controls (which I locked out immediately). Rear cargo room is fairly tight and even with the 60/40 split folding rear seats all down, you might get one average sized mountain bike back there – without a front tire.
After a week and a few hundred miles, I became kind of fond of the GLK. The ingress/egress is spot on for my bulky frame and other than the irritating cruise control stick being where the turn signal stock should be, the layout is superb. This is a very easy machine to jump in and drive daily.
The build quality is quite good. I dare say that the intent of Mercedes’ interior designers seem to be manifesting from a different place than the exterior designers. Mercedes needs to look at Audi’s Q5 for a lesson on design symmetry for small crossovers. I did find the interior’s design restrained and in fairly good taste. There were no surprises other than the hidden buttons that release the center armrest’s split-doors. The greenhouse is huge and sightlines are some of the best in the business.
It did lack Mercedes Benz’s panache –
I was adventurous enough to tempt my favorite fishing spot and its rough dirt (and mud) roads with the Mercedes Benz 350 GLK 4MATIC. It did very well despite the huge 19 inch wheels. There are no additional off-road accouterments and no low gear. Essentially, this is a tall, AWD mini wagon. All the same, after my punishing dirt excursion, I’m certain the Mercedes Benz 350 GLK 4MATIC would be an excellent winter companion.
Many will be pleased at the very un-Mercedes Benz-like $34,000-ish base price (my loaded 4MATIC tester came in at about $46,000). If you stay clear of the pricy options, you can get a comprehensibly equipped GLK for a hair over 40K. Not bad for a vehicle that has been deliberately pitched to women.
So, is the Mercedes Benz 350 GLK 4MATIC strictly a “ladies” machine? Naw, don’t let the marking persuade “MAN” shoppers. Both sides can agree on this spunky mini-Mercedes. Although, I did drive around with an internal dialogue, a superiority complex and had a hankering for shoe shopping…
In all seriousness, I think it’s a good car that is slightly underwhelming for a Mercedes Benz.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE. Photos by: N.D.