- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2007

MCCALL, Idaho — Mercedes-Benz provided a sneak peek here this week at a new, entry-level SUV it is planning for introduction late next year.

The SUV, called the GLK, will compete against the likes of the BMW X3, Acura RDX and Land Rover LR2. Intended as an entry-level luxury vehicle, it is similar in size to crossover utility vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Jeep Compass and Chevrolet Equinox.

The early non-running prototype shown to journalists at a press event here for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz ML550 and GL550 SUVs was heavily disguised, but it had sharper lines than the midsize Mercedes ML-Class SUV.

Mercedes-Benz officials said the inspiration for the new vehicle was the full-size GL-Class SUV, hence the name GLK.

“We wanted it to be more edgy and masculine” than the ML-Class, a Mercedes-Benz official said.

Along with the ML and GL classes, the new GLK will have unit-body construction like a crossover or car instead of body-on-frame like a truck-based SUV.

Few details were provided, but the GLK appeared to have passenger volume similar to that of a midsize sedan, or about 95 cubic feet to 100 cubic feet. The cargo area appeared to have about 25 cubic feet to 30 cubic feet of space.

Four adults should be able to sit comfortably, with a fifth person in the middle of the back seat forced to straddle a large floor hump. The interior was modern, with a dash that kept to Mercedes-Benz styling.

There was no word on engines or transmissions, but the size of the GLK makes it a likely candidate for V-6 gasoline and diesel engines in the U.S., with four-cylinders and variants in Europe.

The new GLK is to be revealed in January at the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit, with production to start in late 2008.

Sales would start in Europe with a later introduction in the United States for the 2009 or 2010 model year.

Prices likely would start well north of $30,000.

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