Mercedes GLB250 4Matic (2020)

Test Drive Notes Library
  • Pros

  • Luxury in a small SUV. As luxury car makers have probed the lower ends of the market, we’ve often been disappointed by how non-luxurious their smallest offerings have been. This is an exception. While the GLB is not Mercedes' lowest priced line, it’s just one notch up the rung from the starter-Mercedes A-Class. Yet for a small SUV that’s basically the size of a Toyota RAV4, the GLB is an incredibly refined place to be.
  • Smooth. The first thing that impresses you is how smooth the drivetrain is. It’s got a turbo charged, 221 HP 4-cylinder engine. That feels like plenty in the GLB. It quietly glides away from stops. Shifting from the 8-speed automatic is practically undetectable. The stop-start system is blissfully unnoticeable. The ride is slightly firm, but very good. It’s quiet and comfortable inside.
  • Interior space. From the outside, it looks like a compact SUV, and it is. But with an upright, boxy shape, and a nice, high roof, it feels plenty roomy inside. It doesn’t feel at all tight up front, with good shoulder room and head room. Even the back seat passengers have plenty of leg room. Behind the back seats, there’s a reasonable amount of cargo space.
  • Handling. The ride is slightly firm, but there’s really no body lean in day to day driving. Handling is excellent around town. It’s an easy car to drive.
  • Interior quality. Granted, our GLB was dressed up for an inaugural ball, but materials and workmanship are impressive. It’s not the Mercedes “Full Coddle” you get with an S-Class by any means, but it feels like a high quality space inside.
  • Great overall package. This is one of our favorite Mercedes. It’s not over the top in any way. It’s practical, comfortable, smooth, refined, and very pleasant to drive.
  • Cons

  • Price. When you see a boxy, little SUV that’s about the size of a RAV4, you have to be a little surprised when you glance at the Monroney and see the number $57,475 at the bottom. Now, granted, that includes nearly $20,000 worth of options. Think about that. That’s a new Honda Civic worth of options. However, if you start with the base price of $38,600 with all wheel drive, and add judiciously (required safety equipment $2,250, upgraded suspension $990, Surround View system $1090, leather seats $1,450, and maybe the Premium Package with a bunch of comfort and convenience features $1,650, and destination charges $995), you can walk out with one of these, still very well-equipped, for, well, actually a still pretty pricey $47,000. But that feels like a much fairer price for what is a very nice car.
  • Pay for safety. Forward Collision Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection are standard on the GLB. That’s great. But, as noted above, it’ll cost you another $2,250 to buy the Driver Assistance Package. And you must buy it. It has the absolutely necessary blind spot warning, lane keeping assist, and rear cross traffic warning, along with some other goodies. You’d be crazy to buy a car in 2020 without those basic safety features for you and your family.
  • Complicated screen interface. Mercedes uses multiple touch-pad-like interfaces to control the central infotainment screen. It even has a couple of tiny touch pads for your thumbs on the steering wheel. We’re not fans. Fortunately, you can also just touch the center screen rather than testing your hand-eye coordination. You can also avail yourself of multiple hard-buttons for everything temperature related, and sound system volume. You’ll still need to use the menu system, and it’s not the most intuitive one out there. On the bright side, you’ll probably get used to it after a while, and you get standard Automatic Emergency Braking to back you up while you’re taking your eyes off the road to figure it out.
  • Rear seat bottom. There’s very good room in the back seat of the GLB, for both heads and legs. But the seat bottom is somewhat low and rather firm. I guess there’s a shortage of memory foam in Stuttgart these days.
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