20mercedesglb250frontbeauty1sessions

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Road Test and Review

The all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 slots in between the GLA and GLC in the brand’s six-strong SUV lineup. The squarish compact SUV forgoes the recent trend to swoopy, sloped-roof utilities with a very practical and space-efficient design featuring a robust vertical grille, raised hood, upright windshield, and tall roofline. A longish, 111.4-inch wheelbase plants the standard 18-inch alloy wheels at the corners for a confident stance and delivers generous interior space for its abbreviated compact exterior. It’s available with front- or all-wheel drive and with five- or seven-passenger seating. Among the GLB 250’s chief competitors in the expanding premium small SUV segment are the BMW X1, Land Rover Discovery Sport, and Lexus NX 300. The front-wheel drive version of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 is attractively priced at $37,595 including a $995 destination charge. GLB 250s equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive start at $39,595 with destination.

  1. Turbo Power
  2. 4Matic All-Wheel Drive
  3. Surprising Roominess Inside
  4. Screen Gems
  5. More Options
  6. Second Row, not Second Class
  7. Bring on the Cargo
  8. GLB 250 Dynamics
  9. Safety and Driver Assist Tech
  10. Big Comfort in a Small Package
Turbo Power

Turbo Power

The GLB 250's sole powerplant is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo shared with the CLA 250 compact four-door “coupe.” Output is modest at 221 horsepower, but torque is a more-than-adequate 258 lb-ft developed over a broad range from 1,800 to 4,000 rpm. Even though the GLB is nearly 300 pounds heavier than its CLA platform-mate, the new suv feels peppier and more responsive thanks to the quick-spooling turbo, slick cog-changing eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (vs. a seven-speed in the CLA), and shorter-ratio first gear for getting up to speed smartly. The GLB 250 can reach 60 mph in just under 7 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined for the front-drive model and — surprisingly, considering it’s about 130 pounds heavier than the front-driver — 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined with all-wheel drive. That translates to a generous 475-plus-mile cruising range. I averaged 29.4 mpg in mixed driving over mostly two-lane mountain roads and a few off-road trails, using premium fuel. The GLB also has an automatic stop/start system that shuts off the engine at idle to save fuel, then restarts when the driver lifts a foot off the brake. The system can be deactivated if desired.

4Matic All-Wheel Drive

4Matic All-Wheel Drive

Although my 175-mile drive in a 4Matic-equipped GLB 250 north of Scottsdale, Arizona included just a couple of short off-road segments, some with ruts and gullies using all of the SUV’s 7.9 inches of ground clearance, traction was never an issue even with the standard all-season tires. The optional Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel drive system is constantly apportioning drive torque to the wheels with the most traction. It defaults with the Drive Select system to a baseline 80 percent front/20 percent rear distribution in Eco or Comfort modes, 70 percent front/30 percent rear in Sport mode, and 50 percent front/50 percent rear spread in Off-Road mode. The Off-Road driving mode also modifies throttle response for smoother off-pavement launches and changes the response of the anti-lock brakes to better handle dirt and other loose surfaces. When in Off-Road mode, the vehicle also displays an animation of the inclination and grade angle in the instrument panel. The system also features Downhill Speed Regulation, which is like an off-road cruise control that can be set to between 1 and 11 mph so the driver can concentrate on finding a path around obstacles and through deep ruts and dips.

Surprising Roominess Inside

Surprising Roominess Inside

The new GLB 250 is roomier inside than it looks from the outside thanks to its relatively boxy shape with straight sides and a tall roof. Standard fare includes faux-leather seat coverings, with leather a $1,450 option. Both the driver and front-passenger seats are power-operated with three-position memory. The front seats have a manual bottom cushion extender to support under longer thighs. Also standard is a leather-wrapped tilt/telescope steering wheel with shift paddles, plus push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control, and basic cruise control. This being a premium European brand, the option list is long. Heated front seats are a $580 option, while heated and cooled front chairs will set you back $1,030. The front seats can be upgraded to massaging, multi-contour seats for another $590. A heated steering wheel warms your upper digits for $250. Real-wood trim accents add $325, and a very entertaining $310 ambient lighting package brings a festive 64-color interior light show, ambling through numerous hues on the doors, speakers, console, dash, and climate-control vents. A $2,600 AMG Line adds sport seats, a sport steering wheel, and a host of other sporty upgrades.

Screen Gems

Screen Gems

A highlight of the new Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 is its twin high-resolution color displays. Standard are a pair of 7-inch screens, but what you really want for this level of vehicle are the optional 10.25-inch screens perched atop the dash like a pair of landscape-format tablets, part of the car's $1,650 Premium Package. The standard Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) content on the center screen can be accessed via the center touchscreen itself, the console-mounted touchpad, steering wheel controls, or natural language-enhanced voice control, which includes keyword activation. Give the system a name and talk to it like you would Alexa at home. For example, say something like ”Hey Mercedes, I’m cold” and the MBUX system will raise the climate control temperature on the side of the vehicle the voice came from by 2 degrees. Both the 7- and 10.25-inch screens are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto cellphone apps and icons. Also standard is NFC Bluetooth pairing capability. A $1,150 optional Multimedia Package brings hi-res navigation with topographical detail, and its Augmented Reality feature displays a live, high-res camera shot of the road ahead including traffic while an animation displays the direction of the upcoming turn or navigation instruction.

More Options

More Options

The customization opportunities continue. Under a $1,500 optional panoramic sliding dual-pane sunroof, other upgrades include a rich-sounding 12-speaker, 590-watt Burmester surround-sound audio system, six months of SiriusXM satellite radio for $460, a $200 wireless inductive phone charger for the front of the console, and a $1,100 optional head-up display for vehicle speed, navigation instructions, and cruise control settings. There are also optional AMG 19 and 20-inch wheel upgrades, $275 Mercedes-Benz logo pool lights that illuminate the ground under your feet when you open a door, AMG Line appearance packages, and other trim upgrades with carbon fiber-look mirror caps and a rear spoiler. And just because “why not,” an extra $350 will net the GLB 250 an illuminated three-pointed star in the grille to light the way.

Second Row, not Second Class

Second Row, not Second Class

Due to the GLB 250’s relatively tall roof and longish wheelbase, the second-row seat offers decent headroom and legroom for two adults — three in a pinch for short distances. The rear seat backrests are divided 40/20/40, fold nearly flat for carrying cargo, recline to any of seven positions, and slide fore and aft up to 6 inches. Mercedes-Benz somehow managed to package an $850 optional third-row seating in the GLB-Class, but it’s just a perch for two children or small adults. There are a total of four ISOFIX and TOP tether anchor points available for installing child safety seats in the second and third rows.

Bring on the Cargo

Bring on the Cargo

Considering the GLB 250’s compact size, the cargo hold is surprisingly accommodating. With the second- and optional third-row seats folded, there’s 62 cubic feet of space back there. Even with the second-row seat up, there’s a respectable 21.5 cubic feet of cargo space in five-seat versions, as big or bigger than you find in any full-size sedan’s trunk. That can be increased by up to 6 cubic feet with the second-row seat slid to its forward-most position. It’s all accessed via a standard power liftgate, the opening height of which can be adjusted for parking areas with low ceilings. Although there’s some nifty hidden storage for cameras, purses, laptops, and the like under the rear cargo floor, don’t look for a spare tire tucked away in there. The GLB 250 does without a spare and uses run-flat tires instead.

GLB 250 Dynamics

GLB 250 Dynamics

Just because it’s roomy doesn’t mean it has to be clunky. As compact SUVs go, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 is an agreeable place to spend time. Despite its forward weight bias and all-season run-flat tires, the 4Matic-equipped test SUV handled the serpentine sections of pavement in the desert hills and alpine mountains north of Scottsdale, Arizona with reassuring calmness and predictability. The four-cylinder turbo may not possess the melodic charm of a six- or eight-cylinder Mercedes, but it moves this small Benz confidently and deliberately. Ride motions are well-controlled and body roll is kept to a comfortable level in hard turns. The electrically boosted steering is precise and direct, and pedal response with the standard or optional drilled-rotor AMG brakes scrubs off speed in a hurry. An optional $990 adaptive damping suspension can adjust shock settings in real-time, and it offers driver-selective comfort and sport programs. Even with the standard Dynamic Select set to Comfort mode, the GLB 250 feels capable and all-day driveable.

Safety and Driver Assist Tech

Safety and Driver Assist Tech

It’s a dangerous world out there. Beyond the standard nine airbags, attention assist, and emergency call service, a $2,250 Driver Assistance Package bundles the bulk of the GLB 250’s advanced safety and driver-assistive systems. The latter includes automatic emergency braking; adaptive cruise control with active steering assist and speed adaptation ahead of curves, tollbooths, and such; active speed limit assist that automatically adjusts to the posted speed; blind-spot monitoring with active braking; and lane-keeping with active steering and braking assist. The brake snubs and “corrective” steering torque can be annoying on winding roads where it’s near impossible for a tire not to touch a white line or when swinging wide to avoid a jogger or bicyclist without signaling, but luckily that function can be turned off. Another cool function of the package is lane-change assist, which can execute a semi-autonomous lane change when you activate your turn signal on a four-lane highway and the lane is clear. A $1,090 Parking Assistance Package adds a surround-view camera and active parking assistance. Once a driver has driven past the perpendicular or parallel parking spot for the system to size up, it can pull into the space semi-autonomously using cameras and sensors, operating the steering, gearshift, and brakes.

Big Comfort in a Small Package

Big Comfort in a Small Package

On sale now, the 2020 GLB 250 brings real Mercedes-Benz comfort and style to the small SUV class. And it’s quite a value for something proudly wearing the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star — provided the buyer doesn’t go too crazy checking boxes on the rather long optional equipment sheet. Expect most Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 vehicles on dealer lots to be stickered north of $50,000.