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Mercedes GLK M Class

The mid-size GLK is the newest member of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. Siblings include the full-size M-Class, the larger GL-Class, the crossover R-Class and the rough-and-ready G-Class. With the GLK, Mercedes-Benz has 14 model classes making up the broadest lineup of luxury cars in the auto industry. The GLK arrives just in time to satisfy the wants and needs of a wide range of buyers looking for decent fuel economy in a luxury SUV. Classified as a small SUV, the GLK is more than 10 inches shorter than the M-Class and competes with Japanese crossovers, including the Acura RDX, Infiniti EX and Lexus RX, as well as European models BMW X3 and Land Rover LR2.

At first glance, the GLK looks a lot like its larger GL sibling. A closer look suggests a contemporary reinterpretation of the G-Class with its angular hood and more upright windshield. Even so, a few clever wind-cheating, fuel-saving aerodynamic features produce a drag coefficient of 0.35, making the GLK one of the most fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz vehicles ever.

The high-quality appearance of the interior is the result of a special production process that leaves a seamless surface with no lines or joints. Robots spray a foamed surface skin onto the dash backing; this polyurethane skin is soft to the touch and can be thicker or thinner as needed.

A 4.5-inch display in the center of the speedometer is linked to a 12-button multi-function steering wheel that can call up a variety of helpful information such as odometer, range, oil level, distance, time traveled and average speed and mpg. It can also display phone and audio system information radio station, CD track or MP3 play list.

Similar to the system launched on the top-of-the-line S-Class sedan and CL coupe, an electronic controller on the lower console works like a computer mouse to provide easy operation of many functions that used to require separate buttons and switches. By turning and pressing the aluminum controller, menus and sub-menus on the center-console visual are displayed and selected for the audio system navigation system and phone.

The GLK350 is a beneficiary and good example of how expensive high-tech power train features can trickle-down to lower-priced vehicles. The engine is the same high-tech Mercedes-Benz V6 currently featured in the C350 sport sedan. It's a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with 258 pound-feet of torque. Maximum torque is available from 2700 rpm up to 5000 rpm. In fact, at just 1500 rpm, the V6 develops 87 percent of its maximum torque.

Valve timing is automatically adjusted within a range of 40 degrees using electro-hydraulic vane-type adjusters to reduce exhaust emissions, improve fuel economy and maximize power. A two-stage intake manifold boosts torque at low speeds and optimizes power at higher speeds.

Each GLK is also equipped with five mufflers - two up front, one in the center and two in the rear. Although the new GLK has a true dual exhaust system, the center muffler is common to both pipes as a means to smooth the exhaust pulsations on both sides and reduce exhaust noise.

The GLK comes with the Mercedes-Benz seven-speed automatic transmission, the same one first offered in the new S-Class. When compared to other automatic transmissions, the seven-speed provides better acceleration and fuel economy, as well as smoother gearshifts.

Customers have a choice of rear-wheel drive or the 4MATIC full-time all-wheel-drive system that made its debut on the new-generation S-Class sedan. The 4MATIC system uses a center differential that can vary front-to-rear torque distribution for improved on-road handling and enhanced traction.

Good vehicle safety integrates the prevention of accidents via quick response to driver input, electronic assistance (ABS, stability control, brake assist), progressive impact absorption, controlling the body movement of passengers due to impact, and quick emergency response to passengers in severe impacts. The 2010 GLK fulfills each of these five elements in this increasing scale of safety concerns: As such it's ideal for today's family, whether they're visiting relatives halfway across the country or running errands around town.

With an MSRP of $33,900 for the rear wheel drive and $35,900 for the all-wheel-drive model, the GLK offers state-of-the-art technology in an affordable package. Fuel economy is 14/22 (city/highway) and 14/21 for the RWD and AWD models, respectively. For those willing to wait, it's almost a sure thing that a diesel-powered GLK will be here shortly.


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