Did you know that you can buy a luxury compact crossover SUV that comes with 3-row seating? Neither did I! But apparently there is one available in the form of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC. It’s an all-new model from the brand which slots between, you guessed it, the smaller GLA and the larger GLC family of SUVs.
Engine – Under the hood is a very familiar engine that is found in many other compact Mercedes-Benz vehicles. It is a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder that produces 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. As base engines go, this one has a good amount of pep to it. If you’re wanting for more power, I’m sure a GLB 35 AMG is in the works. Perhaps even a GLB 45 AMG. But as for this base engine, it delivers its peak torque from a low 1,800 rpms to around 4,000 rpms which gives the car the quick off-the-line feeling. At the higher rpms, it does feel a bit like it’s running out of steam but this isn’t the type of vehicle that you rev to the redline on a continuous basis.
Fuel economy is… well I don’t know. EnerGuide (EPA equivalent here in Canada) has not yet tested the GLB 250. What I can tell you is that during my time with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, I have averaged around 10 L/100km (23.5 mpg). That fuel economy figure was over a 450 km drive cycle and it consisted of approximately 70% city driving with the rest being highway driving.
Transmission – An 8-speed dual-clutch transmission does the job of changing gears. Once the crossover gets going, the transmission does a fabulous job of providing smooth and quick gear changes. It’s only when setting off from a stop that it can – at times – feel a bit sluggish off the line.
Braking – Although this is a base vehicle, Mercedes-Benz does not skimp out on providing good brakes. The brakes on this GLB 250 provide a lot of stopping force. Brake pedal feel is firm but with a relatively good amount of modulation for smooth stops. Automatic emergency braking is standard on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250.
Handling – Steering weight is on the light side making the GLB 250 not particularly joyful to drive on a twisty road. But that’s not what this crossover was meant for. The light steering makes it very easy to maneuver on tight city streets or in tight parking lots. It also has a very good turning circle which further aids to its maneuverability in tight spots.
With the standard 4MATIC AWD system (for the Canadian market), the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 feels sure-footed when the road conditions are less than ideal. It is not a 4MATIC+ system so Drift mode for you like in the CLA 45 AMG, but the engine can send up to 50% of its torque to the rear wheels when the front wheels start to slip.
Ride Comfort – Being primarily a city crossover SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLB 250’s suspension is tuned to be on the softer side. Bumps and road imperfections are well absorbed but the soft suspension doesn’t make the GLB feel overly floaty over road undulations.
This particular GLB 250 came equipped with the options Sport seats as part of the Sport package. These seats offer bigger side bolsters over the standard seats but they still feel comfortable for long trips. There is also a “massaging” feature that, to be frank, isn’t really a massaging feature. Instead it slightly changes the contact points between your body and the seat to reduce pressure points.
Interior Space – Thanks to the GLB’s boxy shape, there is a lot of occupant and cargo space on the inside. The doors have wide openings making it easy to step in or out of the SUV. Headroom is plentiful throughout the cabin even with the standard panoramic sunroof. Rear legroom is not bad for taller adults. At 6’4″, my knees just barely brush up against the back of the front seat in my driving position. Also the rear seat backs can recline to various degrees for added comfort but the seat bottoms are quite firm. As for the 3rd row seats… unfortunately this press vehicle did not have that option fitted to it. It is a $1,300 CAD option though and in their own brochure, Mercedes-Benz recommends those seats only to those that are below 5’6”. However, without those rear seats, the GLB 250 boasts an impressive 1,805 L (63.7 cu-ft) of total cargo volume.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The interior of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 is a quiet place. Engine noise is well subdued but you can add more of it if you want. As part of the Sport package, the GLB 250 is fitted with enhanced engine sounds that are pumped through the stereo speakers. Yes, it is fake engine noise but at least you can turn it off to have peace and serenity if you want. Road and wind noise are also very well subdued when traveling on a highway.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 starts at $43,990 CAD ($36,600 USD) and is equipped with heated seats, panoramic sunroof, automatic emergency braking, LED headlights, power front seats, leather-like Artico upholstery, a 7-inch touchscreen, and Bluetooth. A pretty good list of features, however, there are a few features that in my opinion should not be on the options list and instead should be standard. These include Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, keyless entry and lock, and lane departure warning with blind zone detection. I wouldn’t mind trading the panoramic sunroof for these features.
But most buyers will not opt for a base Mercedes vehicle and as such, this GLB 250 is equipped with quite a few more features. As equipped, the price for this demo GLB 250 is closer to $53,000 CAD ($48,760 USD) and includes 19-inch AMG wheels, adaptive cruise control, sport brakes, 10.25-inch driver and infotainment screens, navigation system with augmented reality, wireless phone charging, power tailgate, blind spot sensors, and Android Auto & Apple CarPlay.
Interior Design – In recent years, Mercedes-Benz has stepped up the interior design of their vehicles. Among the big German 3 auto manufacturers, Mercedes vehicles look stunning on the inside. It is also an intuitive interior, as in, it’s easy to figure out how to change the climate controls for example because there are physical controls and don’t require digging into an infotainment system.
However, it’s not all perfect. There are a few odd rattles here and there when driving over rougher roads but not as bad as in the CLA 45 AMG. Also, the Artico leather-like upholstery is not very soft or smooth to the touch. It feels rough and I would personally prefer it if the seats were entirely covered in either real leather or the suede-like Dinamica material that only covers the center of these equipped seats.
Exterior Design – As mentioned earlier, the 2020 GLB 250 has a boxy design. It looks almost like a scaled down version of the older generation GL-class SUVs. But while its overall shape is boxy, it still has plenty of curves that are more appealing to the eyes. Overall it looks pretty good to my eyes.
The closest competitors to the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 are the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3. The GLB 250 splits the difference between the two because it doesn’t drive quite as well as the BMW but it offers more interior space than the Audi. However, neither of them… or any other luxury compact crossover SUV, is available with 3rd row seating. Again, those seats are meant for those that are under 5’6” and they probably won’t want to be there for trips longer than one hour. So if you really need that 3rd row, might I suggest a non-luxury 3-row SUV like the Mazda CX-9 or Hyundai Palisade? But if you are considering a GLB 250, I would recommend one with just the Premium package as it contains everything you’d ever need from a small crossover SUV and it won’t cost more than $48,000 CAD (before fees & taxes).
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca