2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC
2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge
Related articles on Autos
Test Drive: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350
Test Drive: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC
Buyer’s Guide: 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
Buyer’s Guide: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Manufacturer’s web site
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

As an auto reviewer, I’m supposed to be as unbiased as possible, and for the most part I think I am. But I’m also human, and some vehicles turn my crank more than others do. To that end, while they’re good vehicles, I don’t see the appeal of Mercedes-Benz’s bigger ML- and GL-Class SUVs. But I sure love their nimble little brother, the GLK350.

For 2011, the GLK is also available in a new rear-wheel drive version, starting at $41,300, but mine used Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive, which gave it a starting price of $43,500. That was further stepped up with a Technology Package at $2,200, which added navigation, voice control and a new media interface, and a $3,400 Premium Package of ten-way seats, parking sensors, compass, driver’s side memory, power steering column, garage door opener, power tailgate and a panoramic sunroof that’s a new addition to the package, for a total of $49,100 before freight and taxes.

2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC
2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

Other than the two-wheel version, which was previously available to U.S. buyers but not Canadians, not much has changed for 2011, other than a few trim items. Sharp eyes will note that the switch that alters the seven-speed automatic transmission’s shift points used to be labelled C/S, for Comfort/Sport, and is now E/S, for Economy. The transmission program itself hasn’t changed, just its name. I do wish it would remember what you selected when you last put it away. Start it up again and it defaults to Economy, even if you’ve put it in Sport every time you’ve slipped behind the wheel.

The model comes strictly as the GLK350, in honour of its 3.5-litre V6, which turns out 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated only to the aforementioned seven-speed transmission with manual shift mode. Don’t expect drama, just smooth competence. The engine is more than up to the task of moving the GLK around, and it kicks up its heels a little more in the Sport setting, with a slightly throatier rumble from the higher revs. The transmission performs quietly in the background, with many of its cog changes are almost imperceptible. The all-wheel system is rear-biased, splitting the torque 45/55. It’s officially rated at 13.3 L/100 km (21 mpg Imp) in the city and 9.6 (29) on the highway; in combined driving, I split the difference and averaged 11.2 (25).

2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC
2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 4MATIC. Click image to enlarge

The driving experience is satisfying. The little trucklet feels substantial – although, at 1,850 kg, the all-wheel version is lighter than competitors such as BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 – but it doesn’t “drive heavy.” Its more car-like handling is undoubtedly due to a chassis shared not with its larger SUV brethren, but with the C-Class sedan. The steering is accurate, the turning radius is small enough to breeze around tight parking lots, and the brakes are strong. These are attributes found in most small SUVs in this category, but for some reason, I like driving the GLK more than I do most of its competitors. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s primarily trying to be an in-town traveller rather than a tall sports sedan.

Connect with Autos.ca