With a red exterior that matched Marilyn Monroe’s lipstick, my test 2011 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350 screamed, “I’ve got one, and you don’t.” I felt like a magnet for stares and speed sensors. Wherever I went, I parked in the back, primarily because the GLK 350’s commanding presence is not my style and partly because I didn’t want door dings. I like nice things, but I also like luxury that’s a good deal. That’s not the GLK 350.

The loud GLK 350 isn

The GLK 350 has a refined V6 engine, glides on pavement, has the clearest backup camera I’ve ever used and a cabin that’s just as quiet as the Audi Q5’s. Ignoring a price tag of about $46,000, low fuel economy ratings of 16/21 mpg city/highway with all-wheel drive and its loud red exterior, the GLK is an awesome luxury vehicle.

But I’m into good values, and the GLK 350 is not the Hyundai Genesis of the luxury small SUV class. Technically, no vehicle in this class is value-oriented. They’re more than $32,000, and none have fuel economy ratings of more than 27 mpg on the highway, but if I had to choose, I’d pick the Volvo XC60. On the road, it bounces a lot more than the GLK, but it takes regular gasoline, costs $40,675 when similarly equipped, is an Insurance Industry for Highway Safety 2011 Top Safety Pick, gets 18/25 mpg city/highway and is a lot more capable of blending in than the Mercedes-Benz.

As nice as the GLK 350 is, I wouldn’t buy one, even if it were a normal color. It simply isn’t a bargain for the class. But if you buy one, the only things you’ll cringe at are its price tag and fuel economy ratings.