Mercedes GLB — Small family luxury SUV is smooth, quiet, roomy

By Jim Prueter

(March 9, 2022) It’s been two model years since we last drove and tested Mercedes compact luxury SUV when it was first introduced for the 2020 model year. The 2022 GLB tested here is nearly identical to the 2020 and 2021 model since its debut adding standard blind spot monitoring for 2021 and both SiriusXM satellite radio and a 115-volt power outlet added to the optional Premium package for 2022.

Last year, Mercedes introduced its AMG high-performance trim level to the GLB adding a more athletic styling cues to go along with a 302-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, standard third row seating, the MBUX infotainment system and numerous creature comforts to compete alongside BMW’s X2 M35i muscled up compact SUV. It has a starting price of $51,000.

This review has been updated from the original 2020 model year to include changes for both 2021 and 2022 models.

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, the GLB slots between the smaller GLA and slightly larger GLC Mercedes utility vehicle and is surprisingly affordable ($38,600 FWD and $40,600 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.

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 2022 GLB optional equipment included an AMG line sport steering wheel and 19” AMG 5-spoke wheels, adjustable damping suspension, heated front seats, the Multimedia package with navigation, Driver’s assistance package with numerous adds such as cross-traffic alert function, lane keeping assist, active emergency stop assist, evasive steering assist, extended restart in stop-go traffic and more. There was also the Premium package with a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and media display with touchscreen, and AMG Line styled diamond-block grille.

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 quickly upped the MSRP to almost $51,000.

Vital Stats
Base Price:  $40,600
Price as Tested: $50,995
Engine: 2.0-liter 221 hp turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 22/30/25 – MPG City/Highway/Combined
Seating: Up to 7

Crash Test Ratings: The GLB received the highest possible overall 5-star from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  It has not been crash tested by 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

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