in 2011 Luxury Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $25,012 - $26,813
Original MSRP: $35,500 - $37,500
MPG: 16 City / 22 Hwy
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2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

According to many reviewers, the best part about the 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class is the way it drives. They say its ride is especially car-like for a SUV, which adds up to a driving experience that’s comfortable an even a little fun. Complaints include light steering and average (though very un-car-like) fuel economy. A 4Matic all-wheel drive system, meant for inclement weather, is a $2,000 option.

  • "Driving the GLK was surprisingly enjoyable. ...  Before long, we found ourselves tackling corners with the sort of aplomb we hardly expected as the drive began." -- Car and Driver
  • "The GLK, in its suburban-sprawl way, is fun to drive. It handles especially well in the confines of the city and surrounding bedroom communities, which is where most buyers will be driving them." -- Wall Street Journal
  • "The GLK corners confidently with little body lean and accurate steering. Straight line stability is good, but rough roads can cause a bit of vibration that is felt through the steering wheel. The brakes are strong with good pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Whether I was navigating through the mounds of snow in my alley or zipping down the highway, the GLK was perfectly acclimated to both situations. From the engine power to the actual ride-and-handling, I have zero complaints with how the test vehicle drove. It did exactly what I needed in every situation, and I couldn't have been more pleased." -- Chicago Sun-Times

Acceleration and Power

The GLK comes with a 3.5-liter 268-horsepower V6 engine mated to a seven-speed transmission. Most reviewers say the powertrain is quick and sporty. It beats the Acura RDX's 240 horsepower, but can't quite match the Audi Q5's 270 horsepower. However, the GLK's fuel economy is substantially worse than both the RDX’s and Q5’s.

The EPA rates the base GLK at 16/23 mpg city/highway and the all-wheel-drive model at 16/21. These figures are about average, but disappoint reviewers who expect car-like fuel economy to go along with the GLK's car-like ride.

  • "The GLK's V6 provides good acceleration around town and for highway merging. The automatic transmission is smooth and responsive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Powering the GLK is a 3.5-liter V-6, and this engine is superb. ...  Mated to the seven-speed transmission, the power is smooth seamless and fast. Fast to the tune of 6.5 seconds for a 0-to-60-mph time. Not bad for a 4,036-pound vehicle." -- Chicago Sun-Times
  • "In the hills above Malibu, the 268-horsepower V-6, seven-speed automatic transmission, and 4Matic all-wheel drive system make the GLK350 a surprisingly sporty ride." -- Truck Trend
  • "My test-ute was a 4Matic all-wheel-drive model, and I thought the engine had more than enough power to deal with its two-ton curb weight." -- About.com

Handling and Braking

The 2011 GLK-Class has a smooth, car-like ride. But some reviewers complaint about the handling, namely that the steering is too light. Even so, this shouldn't really affect the GLK's handling around town or in parking lots.

  • "Despite 0.82 g of grip, the GLK doesn't offer the carlike handling of the RDX or the X3. A soft ride is backed up by one-finger-light steering, and uneven pavement results in pronounced head toss. Though refined, the GLK drives more like its G-wagen looks than its C-class underpinnings." -- Car and Driver
  • "With the available 20-inch wheels and tires, GLK's ride is a well-sorted blend of comfort and control with good bump absorption." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While the steering is, in typical SUV fashion, rather slow (2.75 turns lock-to-lock,), it's accurate. The big Pirelli meats offer impressive grip, and even when they began to let go, stability and traction control quickly reeled in the errant wheels." -- Truck Trend
  • "Drive smoothly and quickly ... and the GLK exhibits as much finesse as a sports sedan." -- About.com
  • "Dynamically, the GLK delivers more than most prospective owners will likely ask from it. The C-Class chassis on which it sits responds positively to enthusiastic driving, imparting a feeling of agility that seems at odds with the GLK's tall stature. Driven briskly over challenging roads, this Benz acts more like a sporting wagon than a traditional off-roader." -- Edmunds

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