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The Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is a four-door, five-passenger compact luxury crossover. Main competition to the GLK-Class includes the BMW X3, Acura RDX, Cadillac SRX and Audi Q5. In an effort to compete in the lucrative compact luxury crossover market, Mercedes-Benz introduced the all-new GLK-Class for the 2010 model year. Slotting in below Mercedes’ more rugged SUVs that include the M-Class, GL-Class and G-Class, the new GLK-Class caters to the compact crossover market. With the styling of a rugged SUV, the luxurious cabin of a Mercedes-Benz and the chassis of the best-selling C-Class sedan, the all-new GLK-Class is a fresh face in a sea of uninspiring car-based crossovers already on the market. Upon its introduction, the all-new GLK-Class will be available in two trim levels: the base GLK350 with a starting MSRP of $33,900 and the all-wheel drive GLK350 4MATIC with a starting MSRP of $35,900.

Unlike the smooth, silky designs of other Mercedes-Benz models, the new GLK-Class has angular lines that are seemingly more inspired by the military-esque G-Class than any other model. Even though most of its owners will probably never take the new GLK-Class off road, this little crossover’s looks alone would make it fit right in with alongside any muddy Jeep or Subaru. The GLK’s busy design is highlighted by the tall roofline and abnormally large greenhouse, but the boxy design gives it a wide, old-school SUV stance. The face of the GLK is unmistakeably Mercedes-Benz with its signature grille and three-pointed star logo prominently placed front and center. Although most current Mercedes-Benz vehicles feature soft curves up front, the GLK’s rebellious lines are most noticeably the pointed nose, the bulging wheel arches and the almost upright rear liftgate. An optional appearance package provides a more aggressive look for the new compact crossover thanks to seven-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels, a monochromatic paint scheme and aluminum roof rails.

Following the exterior concept of the new GLK-Class, the interior is both luxurious and rugged taking many cues from the recently redesigned C-Class, but the overall styling is very familiar across the board with Mercedes vehicles. Accenting the stylish layout, the GLK-Class comes standard with aluminum accent trim but offers real Burl Walnut Wood trim as anoption with the full leather seating package. From the driver’s seat, the sport steering wheel is easily positioned thanks to power tilt and telescoping steering column and the eight-way power front seats that offer optional heating. Mercedes’ attractive and purposeful instrument gauges add to the cabin’s elegant styling as well as providing useful information from the centrally mounted multifunction display. One advantage that is easily noticeable when piloting the new GLK is that the large greenhouse and squared-off roofline allows for impressive visibility that is obstruction-free at just about any angle. This makes tasks such as navigating tight parking maneuvers or tight-dirt roads a breeze.

The main focal point in the cabin is the generously large seven-inch display screen (five inches without the optional multimedia package) that displays information for the 40-gig hard drive, Mercedes-Benz COMAND system and the GPS navigation, and it is all easily operated using the central control knob that is mounted on the center console. A powerful 600-watt, 12-speaker harman/kardon sound system is optional and provides Dolby Digital surround sound, a six-disc in-dash CD changer and is WMA/MP3/Sirius compatible. Further options include a rearview camera, power liftgate and Mercedes’ Parktronic park assist system.

Although AMG and BlueTEC badges might hold a future down the line for a GLK model, the only powertrain available at launch is the 3.5-liter V-6 that puts out 268-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission, the GLK offers decent acceleration with a 0-60 time of a scant 6.5 seconds. Toss in the 3,500-pound towing capacity and decent fuel economy numbers (16 city/22 highway), and it’s easy to see that the GLK-Class is in fact a true crossover. The only drivetrain option currently available is choosing between the rear-wheel drive GLK350 or the stable, all-wheel drive GLK350 4MATIC.

The GLK-Class was designed to handle just as good on a tight, winding road as it does on an overgrown, muddy two-track. Mercedes equipped its new GLK with a unique handling system called Agility Control. This system improves handling by automatically varying the dampening at each wheel depending on the road condition. Even the GLK’s braking system helps to improve safety and handling by offering Adaptive Brakes and Brake Drying. The Adaptive Braking system includes hill-assist control, while the Brake Drying helps to keep the brake rotors and pads dry in wet-weather driving. When the windshield wipers are operating, the brakes automatically pulsate to help keep the main brake components dry and the pulsation is so minute that is undetectable by the driver.