2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB

SCOTTSDALE, Az. — Mercedes has just added yet another significant SUV to its product lineup. The all-new GLB slots between the smaller urban-stylish GLA and the larger rounded and best-selling GLC. GLB is offered in two-row five-passenger and three-row seven-passenger configurations ($850 upcharge) with standard front-wheel drive or optional 4Matic all-wheel drive, and is surprisingly affordable ($36,600 FWD and $38,600 AWD).

It’s also worth noting that the GLB is the first in this segment to offer three-row seating. Granted, the third row is small, and even Mercedes concedes it’s best left to kids 5-foot-6 and under. The second-row seats — with an ample 38-inches of legroom — can slide forward up to six inches to better accommodate third-row passengers and cargo in the back.

I spent a day driving the GLB at a recent press event, logging more than 300 miles in Arizona from Scottsdale to Payson, Flagstaff and the red rock byways through scenic Sedona.

Visually, GLB forgoes the stylish swooping trend of competitors in favor of a classic, upright, and boxy shape. The windshield angle is noticeably more vertical, side windows larger, the grille more athletic, and the rear boxier and squared off. All designed to give this small — and it is small in length, with dimensions about the size of the Honda CR-V –†an interior that’s surprisingly roomy with more than ample head, leg, and shoulder room.

As expected, the cabin is lavishly appointed with premium materials and superb build quality. A pair of side-by-side seven-inch screens spans the instrument panel, housing Mercedes-Benz User Experience infotainment system (MBUX) and vehicle operational controls. Most functions can be accomplished via voice commands, by saying “Hey Mercedes,” similar to Alexa or Siri voice assistants.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers 221 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque and is connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual-shift mode. We recorded a zero to 60 mph time of 6.9 seconds. Our test GLB also included adaptive/multi-mode damping, summoned via the Dynamic Select switch to influence the characteristics of the 4MATIC system. Three programs are available including Eco/Comfort, Sport, and regular driving mode. We preferred and spent most of our time in Sport mode.

Power from our tester felt more than adequate with plenty of reserve for two-lane highway passing. The ride was composed, cornering and handling confident, steering and braking precise. We were wowed by the quietness of the cabin, even at highway speeds and rougher pavement.

Our tester included an Off-Road Engineering Package, which comes standard on the GLB 250 4MATIC, and further enhances the GLB’s off-road capabilities. We didn’t get the opportunity to take the GLB off road, but were told it adapts the engine's power delivery and the ABS control to tackle off-road terrain away from paved roads.

Overall, we were more than impressed with the new GLB’s packaging, utility, technology, safety features, and driving performance. And while the base price is certainly affordable the list of options is, as with all Mercedes products, quite extensive. Checking option boxes that most people would want — like panoramic sunroof, Sirius XM radio, wireless charging, upgraded wheels, driver assistance package, and AMG trim packages — quickly upped the MSRP to over $55,000.

Even at that, given its immense appeal, we trust the Barons of Bavaria will have little trouble selling all the GLBs they can make.

Vital Stats
Base Price:  $36,600 - $38,600
Price as Tested: $55,340
Engine: 2.0-liter 221 hp turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 23/31/26 – MPG City/Highway/Combined
Seating: Up to 7

Crash Test Ratings: The GLB has not yet been crash tested as of this writing by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Where Built: Aguas Calientes, Mexico

Competes With:
Audi Q3
Cadillac XT4
Infiniti QX 30
Jaguar E-Pace
Lexus UX
Lincoln Corsair

Fab Features
Available seating for 7
Posh, spacious cabin
Sporty, and comfortable driving dynamics
Advanced tech and safety features

— Jim Prueter