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Mercedes-Benz has redesigned the GLK

Mercedes-Benz has redesigned the GLK, and the result is a small SUV that leaves the cute-ute class behind and moves ahead to genuine good looks.

I had nothing against the previous GLK’s appearance. I thought it blended in well with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup’s looks, but it never really grabbed me. This version just seems to bring together the big three-point star in the grille with modern headlights, and one of the most attractive lower front fascias I’ve seen. At first I thought those accent lights in the small grilles on either side of the lower air intake were a bit too fussy in detail. Then I saw how sharp they looked when the LEDs were on in the daylight and I was won over.

Once I took my Cuprite Brown GLK350 tester out at night, I was hooked. My car proudly bore the $1,290 lighting package that includes bi-xenon headlamps with active curve illumination, cornering lamps, a headlamp washing system and adaptive high-beam assist. As wonderful as all this see-where-you’re-going-without-blinding-oncoming-motorists technology was while I was driving, it was after I parked it that this GLK won me over. The LEDs in the taillight, headlight accents and those saucy lower front highlights glowed with just the right amount of warmth. The affect was as if the strips of lights were defining the vehicle’s shape in a minimalistic, but highly artistic way.

The interior’s also gotten a spruce up, and the overall effect was quite fetching. The almond beige leather had delicious mocha accents, and really complimented the new shapes inside the GLK. The burled walnut across the center of the dash, on the console and door pulls seemed perfectly in place as part of the overall design, instead of appearing to be added on as an afterthought.

The part that was less successful was the big chrome rings around the circular vent on the dashboard. The rings were fine when viewed straight on. My problem was the somewhat upright greenhouse reflected the deriver’s end vent in the window. As I drove down the highway, my peripheral vision kept seeing the changing sunlight reflect off the ring onto the window, and I kept having the experience of thinking someone was coming up in my driver’s side mirror. I found myself glancing over time and time again, only to see that darned ring reflected in the side window.

The other part that won me over was the drivetrain. Mercedes-Benz has upgraded their 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct injection and a few other improvements. This edition makes a healthy 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. It comes coupled with a seven–speed automatic transmission.

While the two-wheel drive GLK starts at $37,090, my base-price $39,090 GLK sent its power to all four wheels. With combined electronic stability program and trailer stabilization, your GLK should maintain your intended course, even if it’s towing its maximum 3,500 pounds. With trailer attached, you’d be unlikely to achieve the 19-city, 24-highway or 21-mpg combined EPA mileage.

When I get behind the wheel of a full-size or XL SUV, I need some time to adjust to its size. No such acclimation time was needed driving the GLK. It seems to be a just-right size for four people, and five can squeeze in for shorter rides.

I folded the split rear seat down a couple of times, but my bicycle did not come close to filling the then-available 54.7 cubic feet of space. I didn’t like that I had to spend so much time pouring through the translated owner’s manual to find out how to remove the luggage cover, but once you know where the secret button is, removal is a snap.

More information about the program is available on the web site at www.hmhid.com.