The Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC®
A compact SUV with innovative technology
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 crossover utility vehicle sits smack in between the company’s GLA and GLC, which is a pretty nice place to be because it offers the room of a larger vehicle with the maneuverability of a smaller one, and it does so at an affordable price. The GLB appears to be aimed directly at young families who want a spacious cabin, good fuel economy, a small third-seat option, and Mercedes-Benz styling.
The GLB’s 111.4-inch wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and only 1.7 inches shorter than that of the GLC. The long wheelbase not only contributes to a smooth ride but it accounts for 38 inches of back-seat legroom. The somewhat boxy exterior features an upright front section with short front and rear overhangs. The practical design allows 41 inches of headroom in the front seat, and a low step-in height makes getting in easy for youngsters or adults with their arms full of groceries.
Surprisingly, the GLB has a base price of $36,600 for two-wheel drive and $38,600 for 4MATIC® all-wheel drive. The base price swells with popular options, and the model I drove had a sticker price of $50,150. Competitors include the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40, among others.
Powering the GLB is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that has been completely updated to deliver sprightly acceleration and fuel economy that is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway. This aluminum engine has cast-iron cylinder liners, four valves per cylinder and variable cam timing. It is paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission that seems to be in the right gear at the right time whenever you need some extra punch for passing or changing lanes. One reason the engine feels so lively is because the GLB’s curb weight is a comparatively svelte 3,638 pounds.
The two-wheel-drive version sends power to the front wheels, while the 4MATIC® permanent all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution sends 80 percent of the power to the front wheels and 20 percent to the rear in “Eco/Comfort” driving mode. In Sport mode that shifts to 70 percent front and 30 percent rear. The Dynamic Select switch lets the driver choose Sport, Eco/Comfort, and Individual settings to control all-wheel drive although the system reacts intelligently to the current driving situation in any mode. In off-road mode, the all-wheel-drive clutch acts as an inter-axle differential lock, and power distribution is balanced 50:50 front to rear. An Off-Road Engineering Package further enhances the GLB’s off-road capabilities, because it adapts the engine’s power delivery and the ABS control to tackle off- road terrain away from paved roads.
For a vehicle aimed at young families, the cabin is of prime importance, not only in terms of comfort but also in terms of convenience. The split-folding rear seat, for example, can be moved closer to the front seat, making it easier for the front-seat passenger to reach a toddler in a child safety seat or to increase the rear cargo area. The sliding rear seat also improves access to the optional third seat, admittedly best suited for youngsters. The large tailgate opens to reveal a sizable cargo space (62 cubic feet with the seats folded).
The GLB has ISOFIX and TOP-Tether anchorages for child seats, and these can be used to attach up to four child seats in the rear. The third row includes two drink holders between the seats as well as two stowage compartments with a rubberized insert, each with a USB-C port. The
third seat folds flush with the load compartment floor.
The Mercedes-Benz instrument panel now consists of two screens, one for a digital instrument cluster and one as a touchscreen for operating various vehicle functions such as audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The test car was equipped with the premium package that includes two larger 10.25-inch screens that sweep across the instrument panel like a large computer tablet. The gauge display can be changed in several ways, and many vehicle functions can be controlled by voice. “Hi, Mercedes” is all you need to say to get access to many functions. While the test car was not equipped with its own navigation system, I could connect my phone with Apple CarPlay and use my voice to get directions, play music, etc. Navigation with augmented video and speed limit assist adds an additional $1,150.
The GLB also offers optional driving assistance systems with functions adopted from the benchmark S-Class. Using this technology, the GLB is able to drive semi-autonomously in certain situations. To do so, it keeps a close eye on the traffic with camera and radar systems that allow it to see up to 1,640 feet ahead. The GLB also uses map and navigation data to support assistance functions. The driver assistance package of adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive-steering assist, active-brake assist with cross-traffic function, emergency stop assist, lane-change assist, and active-steering assist adds $2,250.
Mercedes-Benz says that one in three of its vehicles sold worldwide is an SUV, and one in four a compact model. Thus, the GLB is poised to tackle an energized SUV market with a compact size, innovative technology, and everyday usability. For the opportunity to purchase one today, check out our Express Store.
Just the facts….
Engine: 2.0-liter, 221-horsepower four-cylinder
Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
4MATIC® all-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 111.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,638 pounds
Base price: $38,600
As driven: $50,150
MPG rating: 23 in the city, 31 on the highway