Although the German home market gets to enjoy the C-class in wagon form, Mercedes-Benz has wisely chosen a small SUV to take on the role of compact utility vehicle here in the United States. The GLK-class looks nothing like the C-class on which it's based, of course. The boxy, upright exterior is a departure from its carlike competitors (chiefly, the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5) and gives the GLK an advantage in both passenger and cargo space and in outward visibility. The GLK has one engine--a 268-hp V-6--with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, and it's not particularly efficient compared to the competition. The GLK also suffers from steering that's a bit sloppy and a transmission that is hesitant to downshift. Its virtues lie in how comfortably it rides and the unusual, if somewhat polarizing, styling. Both the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5 offer livelier engines, more composed transmissions, and an endearing, sporty character that is absent in the Mercedes. The interior of the GLK350 is quite stoic compared with a BMW's or an Audi's but offers the usual amenities. The GLK can be outfitted with a power liftgate, memory seats, nineteen-inch wheels, and a 600-watt sound system, among many other toys. An AMG styling package adds twenty-inch wheels, LED running lights, aluminum roof rails, and new fascias.
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