2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Martin Padgett Martin Padgett Editorial Director
December 9, 2019

Buying tip

Opt for wide-screen displays, adaptive dampers, and all-wheel drive—but skip the GLB 250’s 64-color ambient lighting, 20-inch wheels, and light-up logo, unless you’re starved for attention.

The 2020 Mercedes GLB 250 smuggles family-wagon strengths in its ruggedly styled SUV body.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class hides a secret. As its name suggests, the 2020 GLB slots alphabetically in the Mercedes lineup between the GLA and the GLC. But, the GLB offers a third row of seats that opens it up to seven passengers—its bigger and smaller siblings have room for just five.

We give it a 6.6 out of 10, before crash-test results are factored in. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the GLB 250, Mercedes has its first small three-row crossover SUV. At about 182 inches long and 72 inches wide, however, the GLB is sized like the original Mercedes M-Class of the late 1990s, which could also be had with a third row. The new GLB crossover does people and cargo just as well: It can carry up to seven passengers, though four adults will be more comfortable, and can carry up to 62 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seats folded down. 

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The GLB will look a little more at home on a dirt road than its GLA and GLC siblings. Its styling shares a few lines with the big GLS-Class SUV, including an upright grille and headlights in place of the swept-back look of Mercedes’ other small SUVs. Its overhangs are relatively short, too, which gives it a pluckier, tougher look that the citified GLA. The cockpit brandishes big round vents, ambient lighting, glossy trim, and twin-screen infotainment with the extroverted confidence of a South Korean luxury car—in the best way possible.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque shuttled to all four wheels via an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. It’s a gutsy powertrain that complements the deft-handling GLB’s steering and ride well; with adaptive dampers and all-wheel drive, it’s capable of tackling any weather condition that’s safe for driving, as well as any canyon road worth threading. Mercedes promises a hint of off-road ability with the 2020 GLB’s standard off-road driving systems mode, though it’s hard to imagine the crossover intentionally hurtled down a dirt road. 

Every GLB comes with automatic emergency braking, and the 2020 GLB 250 can be fitted with an adaptive cruise control system that can slow ahead of curves or roundabouts automatically. The system can also automatically change lanes at the tap of the turn signal if it detects an opening.

The base $37,595 GLB 250 has the usual power features, 18-inch wheels, and 7.0-inch infotainment screens as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The smart money throws in $2,000 for all-wheel drive, and a few grand more for 10.3-inch screens, Burmester sound, adaptive dampers, and a surround-view camera system, for a final tally of about $46,000.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Styling

The GLB-Class blurs wagon and SUV cues into a smart, tidy package.

The GLB 250 has the same kind of SUV swagger as the bigger GLS-Class and G-Class, scaled down well on its medium-sized footprint. Its chunky but friendly look squares up from the front end and doesn’t let up, with its upright grille and boxed LED headlights, to a long roofline and tall doors that knit together with gently rounded corners. There’s no coupe-like roofline to slice off head room, no abbreviated hatchback like the GLA-Class or expressively soft contours like a GLC-Class, either. The GLB-Class is a lightly reinterpreted spin on the classic SUV, and it works—even down the sides, where the shoulder line kicks up into taillights that could come from a Volkswagen Tiguan. 

The straightforward shape has plenty of virtue in it already, but AMG Line and Night appearance packages dress it up with deep chin spoilers, dazzling wheels, and touches of metallic trim.

The GLB cockpit reproduces the best of the GLS-Class and G-Class. It wears a big band of metallic trim across its centerline, ending in flags of metallic or wood trim in the doors. Big, round vents and twin digital displays drop glitz all over the cabin, but don’t complicate the basic shapes. Base cars have 7.0-inch screens for the driver and the center stack, while spendy versions adopt twin 10.3-inch screens that pulse with vibrant colors. With optional ambient lighting, Mercedes lets you choose the color it pipes into the GLB cockpit, anything from cool LED white to strip-club hot pink.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Performance

An adaptive suspension and all-wheel drive are worth their option price in the GLB 250.

Mercedes-Benz suits up its newest crossover SUV with front-wheel drive, a turbo-4 engine, an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, and a conventional strut-and-link suspension. We’d spend the extra money for adaptive dampers and all-wheel drive—but either way, we’d give the GLB 250 a 7 for performance.

It’s a poised and confident all-wheel-drive wagon, no matter the configuration, though it’s far from the rugged G-Class that inspires its look. It has half the number of cylinders, for one: The same 2.0-liter turbo-4 from the new CLA-Class sits under the hood. Rated in the GLB at 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, it whirrs more peacefully through more sound deadening than in the old CLA, and shifts with fewer judders in its new 8-speed configuration. The new all-wheel-drive system can shift up to half the power to the rear wheels for better efficiency and traction; Benz claims a 0-60 mph time of 6.9 seconds with all-wheel drive, and a top speed of 130 mph.

All GLB crossovers have an independent suspension, electric power steering, and a drive-mode selector that offers Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual modes. The GLB has a quick throttle response and assertive steering effort, but it’s better when dialed into Sport mode, where its drivetrain clicks into pleasantly brisk shifts and meaty but not too hefty steering. The optional adaptive dampers are worth their relatively low cost, since they can be left in softer tune in Individual mode, where they let the GLB relax over bumps without floating. So tuned the GLB has the demeanor of a long-distance cruiser, with good highway tracking and a well-damped ride. Skip the bigger 20-inch wheels if you drive over rutted highways and back roads on a regular basis—but all-wheel drive doesn’t foul the GLB’s sunny personality at all.

In theory, the GLB has an off-road drive mode that remaps all its drive modes into one with less wheelspin and better ability to slog through mud and slush. It’s not likely to be pressed into hardcore off-road action, and Benz doesn’t trumpet its ground clearance or departure angles. For that, you’ll need to step into a GLE-Class, a GLS, or a mighty G-Class.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 GLB’s the size of the old M-Class.

It’s wrapped in SUV style, but the 2020 GLB 250’s more a family station wagon, one that’s about the size of the original Mercedes SUV, the M-Class.

At 182.4 inches long, the GLB 250 rides on a 111.4-inch wheelbase. However, it’s 72.2 inches wide, nearly five inches narrower than a mid-size Mercedes GLE.

Mercedes extracts plenty of space from the GLB’s footprint, and predictably, the front-seat passengers have it best. Head room combines with very well tailored front seats that pocket rear ends and wrap around torsos like the performance seats in Benz’s AMG models. Cooling and heating and leather upgrade the basic synthetic-leather buckets. The power-adjusted front seats also sit high and make great use of the GLB’s expansive outward vision.

With its flat, high roof, the GLB doesn’t skimp on head room in the second row, either. Two adults fit well, and so can three pre-teens if they’re medium-sized. With the supportive cushions stitched into the second split-bench row, the middle seat’s left too narrow for a full-size adult. The bench slides on a track to generate as much as 38 inches of leg room in the second row, or to open up more for the folks in the available third row. Row three’s pretty small; Benz promises only enough space for those shorter than five and a half feet, though the second-row seats slide out of the way for boarding. 

Both rear rows of seats fold down in segments, to load and fill cargo space as needed. The GLB has at least 20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row, and as much as 26 cubic feet when the seat’s moved far forward. With just the two front seats upright, the GLB can carry up to 62 cubic feet of stuff.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Safety

No crash-test data has surfaced yet for the 2020 GLB.

Though every GLB-Class comes loaded with standard safety equipment, neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA have tested one for crash protection. We’ll leave off the score for now, and update this section when we see some facts.

Until then, the GLB’s plentiful safety equipment promises good protection. Automatic emergency braking is standard, and the GLB’s tall roof and thin pillars grants the driver an excellent outward view, front and back.

Blind-spot monitors come in one option package; another bundles adaptive cruise control that uses camera and navigation data to slow the car down when speed limits change. It can also change lanes when the driver taps the turn signal. A surround-view camera system and automatic park assist round out the passenger-protection upgrades.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Features

Wide-screen infotainment and voice commands stock the MB GLB cabin.

The 2020 GLB-Class sports a lengthy list of standard equipment, and enough options and packages to add thousands to its price.

The $37,595 GLB 250 starts with power features, power front seats, keyless ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, a power tailgate, drive modes, 18-inch wheels and run-flat tires, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. For $2,000 Benz adds all-wheel drive.

The GLB’s infotainment starts in base form with twin 7.0-inch screens, one in the place of gauges and one in the center of the dash. A new “MBUX” interface weaves together touch inputs on the screen and on a console-mounted pad, and has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility; with the optional system and twin 10.3-inch screens, it adds voice input that responds to its name: “Hey, Mercedes.” It can even be fitted with hand-gesture recognition. With all the beautiful high-resolution displays and redundant inputs—including touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel—it can take time to figure out exactly which input makes sense, what it does, and why a limited set of knobs wouldn’t be a better solution (seek, for instance, can take three or four taps and swipes in MBUX).

The GLB can be fitted with a panoramic roof, leather upholstery, front-seat heating and cooling, a third-row seat, wireless smartphone charging, blind-spot monitors, Burmester sound, a head-up display, adaptive dampers, and a lighted Mercedes star logo. Prices soar above $50,000, where it overlaps the more curvy GLC-Class.

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5

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB Class

Fuel Economy

There’s no all-wheel-drive gas mileage penalty with the 2020 GLB.

Mercedes offers a single powertrain in the 2020 GLB-Class, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Both achieve the same EPA combined fuel economy ratings—so the lineup earns a 5 on our scale.

According to the EPA, the front-drive GLB checks in at 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined. With all-wheel drive, the highway rating actually rises, to 31 mpg. 

The GLB’s rating compares well with, say, the Audi Q5’s 24-mpg combined EPA score.

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6.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy 5
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