Sport utes aren’t dead . . . they’ve just evolved into something a ‘little’better
If you thought the prolific lineup from Mercedes-Benz covered all the bases, it appears there’s room for one more body, and a lean and trim one at that. Enter the 2010 GLK compact sport utility vehicle.
While the popularity of sport utility vehicles (even the use of the term) has seemingly fallen out of favor, there is an emerging group of compact, five-passenger luxury-focused urban wagons for those who still need at least some sport-ute-y-ness.
Of course they possess far more capability than the term “urban” implies. The range of vehicles includes such luminaries as the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Land Rover LR2, Lincoln MKX and Audi Q5. All provide stylish, allweather transport along with people-pampering accommodations. That they can also ford scramble over gritty surfaces is simply icing on a rarely sampled cake.
The new GLK, which arrives in early 2009, is the smallest of Mercedes’ quartet of sport utes (oops, there’s that term again), but should prove to be one of the most appealing. From a size and weight standpoint, it’s similar to the BMW X3 and Acura RDX, but the GLK does enjoy about a six-inch advantage in width. Unfortunately, that does not translate into more storage space behind either the front or rear seats, a specification that significantly lags behind that of the Acura and Bimmer.
One of the most striking aspects about the GLK is the friendly face it projects, as opposed to the sort of fender-flared, bullnosed bravado that permeates the category. The wagon has been artfully sculpted and displays more beauty than boldness, although the giant-sized three-pointed-star logo affixed to the grille leaves no doubt as to its heritage. Mercedes’ own comparison of the vehicle as a smaller version of its Mclass sport ute really doesn’t do justice to the GLK’s inviting looks.
As with most of the members of the smallsport-ute group, the GLK’s underpinnings are actually car based and in this case the C-Class sedan has donated its platform and various suspension pieces to the cause.
Also sedanbased is the 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 which, if not class leading, is at the strong-arm end of the scale. Mercedes-Benz states that the GLK will reach 60 mph from a standing start in a respectable 6.5 seconds.
Power is transmitted through a sevenspeed automatic transmission, which is at least one more cog than the GLK’s closest rival. A center differential in the 4MATIC permanently engaged drive system splits the engine’s 258 pound-feet of torque between the front and rear wheels on a 45/55 basis under normal driving conditions. A rear-wheel-drive version will arrive next spring, after the initial GLK launch.
The GLK’s standard-content list is impressive, headed by dual-zone climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlamps, 19-inch alloy wheels and an eight-speaker sound system.
Heading up the lengthy options list is a panorama sunroof, leather interior, heated front seats, power liftgate and xenon headlamps that pivot in the turning direction. Also available is a rearview camera, backup warning system, running boards, 20-inch wheels and a 600-watt 11-speaker surround-sound package.
For an as-delivered base price of around $37,000, the GLK is neither the cheapest or most expensive wagon among its peers. However, it should be popular with buyers who are compelled to display some fiscal restraint without surrender the joys of one of the bestknown luxury brands.