Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 offers plenty of space and features
There's a lot more to the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 than conservative good looks and tight construction. Inside this medium-sized crossover lurks a remarkable array of technological capabilities, diminished only by the presence of our least favorite tech feature - one that's found in too many otherwise superior vehicles.
The GLB 250 is a five-passenger crossover that's priced invitingly: $36,600 with front-wheel drive and $38,600 with “4Matic” all-wheel drive. We test-drove a Polar White 4Matic model with options that boosted the sticker price to $51,405.
We've been driving quite a few crossovers and SUVs lately, and the GLB 250 placed first in at least two categories. Its handling was superior to the others we've driven, and it had no fewer than five suspension and throttle settings -- individually designed. Fuel economy is pretty good for this nearly midsize crossover/SUV: 23 mpg city, 31 highway. Premium unleaded gasoline is required.
The GLB 250 passed Quality Test No. 1 - the sound of a door closing - with flying colors. The feeling of tight, meticulous construction persisted throughout the cabin. On close inspection, the GLB is redolent of German workmanship, but in fact, it's assembled in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
Mercedes-Benz fulfilled most, though not all, of its luxury obligations. The GLB 250 rides comfortably and handles crisply, with plenty of road feel and tire grip. The interior is whisper-quiet, and the 221-horsepower turbocharged Four emits a pleasing, muted roar when pressed. The driver's seat and four-way tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel have plenty of travel, so people of all shapes and sizes can find a comfortable driving position.
The rear seat is unexpectedly roomy and comfortable, given the car's modest size. A third-row seat, suitable for children and very small, nimble adults, is available. There's plenty of room behind the split second-row seat for cargo, as well as a substantial though somewhat unfinished compartment under the rear deck thanks to the lack of a spare tire. (The GLB 250 wears run-flat rubber.)
Standard equipment on this model includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, power driver's seat with lumbar support, dual-zone automatic climate control, power liftgate, push-button start, remote start via mobile app, leatherette upholstery, cruise control and rear-view camera. The fact the base GLB 250's luxury status requires the prefix “near” is revealed by the nearly $13,000 options list, which includes conventional “luxury” items such as heated seats and steering wheel, navigation system, blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic warning, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and satellite radio.
We didn't care for the standard touchpad in the center console. While there is some redundancy of controls, including a touch-screen display and voice activation of multiple features, the touchpad is simultaneously the most convenient and the most frustrating means of changing radio stations and accessing other infotainment features. Mercedes-Benz models we've driven in the past had dial-operated console controllers; we find these much more user friendly than inevitably jumpy touchpads.
The GLB 250 is one of several crossover sedans and SUV wagons fielded by Mercedes-Benz, ranging from the diminutive GLA to the big GLS, and Mercedes-Benz' off-road warrior, the G-Class.Major competitors include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo C60, Lexus NX, Acura RDX, Infiniti QX50, Cadillac XT4, Lincoln Corsair and Jaguar E-Pace.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, 221 horsepower, 258 lb-ft. torque
Transmission: 8-speed automated manual
Weight: 3,759 lb.
Ground clearance: 7.9 in.
Suspension: MacPherson strut/wishbone front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 19-in. multi-spoke
Tires: 235/50R19 all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 22 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 62 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gallons
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline
Steven Macoy (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.