2022 Mercedes EQB350

MIAMI — Mercedes-Benz keeps expanding its all-electric fleet with a new introductory sub-compact model based on the gas-powered GLB SUV as the latest newcomer. It comes in two versions, the EQB300 and the EQB350, the former providing a bit more in the way of range and the latter more in the way of power and performance. Both come with Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system as standard. This review is based on the EQB350.

As you might expect from the German automaker, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 features premium materials throughout the cabin, though standard features fall short of those SUVs higher on the German automaker’s food chain.

Standard features include the usual luxury niceties like dual zone automatic climate control, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, LED headlights and tail lamps, lumbar support for the power driver’s seat, sensors to aid in parking, a panoramic sunroof, and power rear liftgate.

What’s kind of interesting (in a negative kind of way) is that though push-button start is included, a proximity key that allows you to open the doors when approaching the vehicle while in possession of the key fob is not. You have to push a button on the fob to unlock the doors. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but kind of puzzling.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among included tech systems, and the “Hey, Mercedes” voice command system makes for easier operation considering what a pain it is to use the touchpad on the console to perform a simple task like changing a radio station when driving alone. It’s a bit on the sensitive side and you may get a query asking for what function you desire when you haven’t asked for anything, but you can cancel it by voice as well. (Note to self: “eff off” doesn’t work.)

Standard safety features start with the usual blind-spot and lane-keeping systems as well as the company’s Driver Attention Assist system that detects when fatigue might be setting in.

A surround-view camera would be a nice addition instead of only a graphic diagram that shows where obstacles might be lurking on the front, sides, and rear of the vehicle, but the 2022 Mercedes EQB350 is not a particularly large SUV and visibility around it is good, so it’s not a huge omission.

Five-passenger capacity is standard, though an optional third row expands capacity to seven. Mercedes, however, notes that the far back row is limited to people less than 5 feet, 4 inches tall. A third row also will infringe over the generous 23.5 cubic feet of cargo space on 2-row models.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 offers driving range of up to 260 miles on a full charge, and to ease fears of running out of juice prematurely the navigation systems provides maps to the closest charging outlets.

Mercedes claims that a fast-charging outlet will give the EQB250 up to 80 percent capacity in about half-an-hour. That’s about twice as long as filling up at your standard corner gas station usually takes, but should get you out for less than $20.

Starting MSRP for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 is $58,050. Destination and delivery and options (heated front seats and speed limit assist) ran the bottom line on my test EQB350 to $60,100.

What I liked about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC: Performance is a big selling point with 384 pound-feet of torque, nearly 100 lb.-ft. more than the EQB300. Range is good as well, but it seems to come down at an alarming pace even in Eco mode. The premium interior is roomy and comfortable.

What I didn’t like about the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC: There is no AM radio as components on some EVs, apparently like those from Mercedes, interfere with reception on the AM band. The infotainment system overall is on the fussy side, mostly because of the “touchpad” operation. It’s very easy to accidentally change radio stations when reaching across the center console to make an adjustment. It may be an electric vehicle but it’s not a quiet one on the highway as road noise from the tires seemed excessive. Having to reset to your desired driving mode (Comfort, Sport, Eco) when you re-start the vehicle is kind of a pain. Why not pick up at the previous setting?

Would I buy the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4MATIC? If you have read any of my earlier reviews on EVs (bless you!), you already know the answer to this. No, I wouldn’t. That’s not because of the vehicle, but because of the lack of infrastructure to charge the battery. We are getting more charging stations every day, it seems, but upkeep seems to be lacking. Nothing more frustrating than to pull up at one and find out it isn’t working. (Or even to three and find two out of order.)

— Paul Borden