Review: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB isn’t compact in size or luxury
When people think of three-row vehicles, they tend to think of large SUVs with huge exteriors to match their big interiors. But smaller crossovers with three rows of seating are sometimes a better fit. The 2020 GLB balances roominess and luxury very well.
At a Glance
- Not quite compact, fitting in the relatively new small-midsize class of crossovers
- Good base equipment, with more desirable upgrades coming at a price
- Comfortable and confident, but not as sporty as some rivals can be
- Extremely good use of technology, including touch-free, natural-language voice recognition
An all-new model for 2020, the Mercedes-Benz GLB was announced last year and unveiled in Utah not long after. The GLB is not quite compact, its dimensions fitting it in between the smaller GLA an the larger GLC. It's closer to the GLC in size, though, being only 1.7 inches (23 mm) shorter in length. The GLB is offered in both a two-row (five-seat) and three-row (seven-seat) configuration.
There are two basic trim levels for the GLB, the 250 and the 250 4Matic. The major difference between the two is the addition of all-wheel drive in th 4Matic trim. Both have the same engine, transmission, and standard features.
The vehicle uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that will be familiar to fans of Benz cars and small crossovers. This turbo-four puts out 221 horsepower (165 kW) to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Most will find this combination to be more than adequate for the GLB, but few will find it to be sporty compared to the smaller GLC or rivals like the BMW X1, Audi Q3, or the Cadillac XT4.
Standard equipment in the 2020 GLB is commensurate with the luxury price tag of this crossover. LED headlamps, simulated leather upholstery, sliding and reclining second row seating, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and Mercedes’ latest MBUX infotainment are all included. With a price starting at US$36,600, that’s a lot of equipment.
Adding in the more desirable bundles of equipment for the 2020 GLB – such as the Premium package with its blind-spot monitoring and larger 10.25-inch displays, and the Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and other driver aid tech – can get expensive. Our test model had the Premium package ($1,650) and Driver Assistance Package ($2,250) plus the Multimedia package ($1,150) that adds in navigation plus a few other one-off upgrades for a grand total of $51,210, including a $995 delivery fee. So pushing the price tag beyond the base model and into the $40Ks isn’t difficult.
The GLB offers something more than just a lot of tech, though. The high level of comfort and attention to detail is astounding. The interior’s design is geared towards both usability and top shelf luxury from a production model. The second row of seating is spacious (for the class) and split-folds in a 40/20/40 configuration as standard. The third row is not quite as spacious, but offers some adjustment for those occupying it. Access to the third row is the weakest link, with the space between the second row folded forward and the rear seats being tight for all but children.
Cargo space is useful in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB, with a nicely flat floor (seats folded or not) and little extras like tie-downs and grocery bag hangers. The two-row option has a bit more cargo space than does the three-row. Maximum cargo capacity in the two-row is 62 cubic feet (1,755.6 liters) and 56.7 cubes (1,605.5 liters) in the three-row.
The way that technology is integrated only adds to the interior’s excellence, especially with the infotainment system. Mercedes’ new MBUX system allows the user to talk to it directly. No button pushes or other prompts, just a "Hey, Mercedes" and it begins a conversation. Options include a lot of things, such as station changes for the radio, on-the-fly navigation searches and activation, and more. It even tells jokes, our favorite being an exchange in which asking for a joke gains the response "I’m sorry, I don’t have that function. My engineers were German."
The new GLB drives very well for the class, with a balance between being sporty and being comfortable on the daily. For those not looking to break 0-60 records or impress others with "best-in-class horsepower" or other claims, the GLB is a great option. It’s definitely one of the more luxurious options in the not-quite-midsize luxury SUV segment.
Product Page: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB