Our test vehicle was loaded for bear and stickered at about $49,000. Ouch. But check out all the goodies: gorgeous, thick-spoked, twenty-inch wheels; leather upholstery and handsome aluminum-look trim; three-setting heated seats that don't cycle off; a sunroof; a power liftgate; a navigation system with Mercedes-Benz's excellent second-generation Comand controller; and a spectacular 600-watt Harman Kardon stereo system.
The 3.5-liter V-6 provides plenty of straightline grunt and sounds pretty good when you hammer the throttle. It's possible to drive the GLK350 quite aggressively on a twisty road and come away feeling pretty satisfied, but there is clearly not the level of sportiness here that Infiniti builds into its EX35 and FX35 crossovers. This won't matter to most buyers, though, who will be more interested in the three-pointed star; the all-weather capability of the 4Matic system (it churned the GLK350 up my steep, snow-covered driveway handily, ABS grinding away); and the excellent front sightlines through the broad windshield and the expansive side glass.
The rear seats fold flat easily in a 60/40 split, without having to adjust the seat bottoms first. The rear seats themselves seem pretty comfortable, if not overly roomy. The rear cargo area is wide enough to accommodate a set of golf clubs, Mercedes claims, and there's a 115-volt plug back there.
It will be interesting to see if this segment has room for the GLK350, the Q5, and the XC60 to slot in beside the existing BMW X3, Land Rover LR2, Infiniti EX35, and Acura RDX. For the past several years, all of these luxury carmakers have been spouting off research that indicated that the market for small luxury crossovers was going to grow by leaps and bounds for the foreseeable future. But the future isn't foreseeable anymore, as we've learned in recent months, so sales success for the GLK and its competitors is far from certain.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor