Road Test: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

The Mercedes-Benz brand epitomizes all that is right in the automobile. So it came as no surprise when we slipped behind the wheel of the 2020 GLB250 for a week to get a feel for ourselves of just how incredible the new GLB is.

The new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 is the perfect midpoint crossover between the GLA and the GLC in the three-pointed star brand. Borrowing heavily from the design of its larger sibling, the GLB250 looks modern and connected to the family in every which way.

Exterior

The first thing to catch our attention is the face we’ve come to love from Mercedes-Benz models as of late. The LED headlights combined with amber LED turn signals really make a statement and contrast beautifully with the Digital White metallic paint.

With a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the GLB is about five inches longer than the GLA and a tad under two inches shorter than the GLC. That helps explain why the GLB looks similar to the GLC, but still slots in below it. 

Matte black accented 10-spoke wheels share some styling from the recently debuted EQC electric crossover, bringing a modern feel yet still having the shine of a polished wheel. If you want all-black wheels, there’s an AMG package for that along with plenty of other driving enthusiast upgrades.

The strong, rounded rear end is proportioned just right and features elegant design cues like the chrome (non-functional) exhaust outlets and LED signature taillights. Day or night, the GLB250 stands out on the road with its rugged character.

Interior

Inside, the GLB250 feels in many ways like the flagship S-class. The 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment display span from the driver’s seat to the center of the dashboard, offering a limitless flow of information to the driver and passengers.

The front seats are in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, incredibly comfortable and adjustable, with pneumatic inflation for the side bolstering and a manually adjustable thigh support.

Steering wheel capacitive touch controls allow the driver to swipe through each of the screens in any direction, opening and flowing through different menus and options on the fly. 

The knurled, high quality knobs and buttons feel solid and give a reassuring feel when operating. 

A heated steering wheel is optional and highly recommended if you live anywhere that dips below 50. We sampled the strength of it and enjoyed the extra warmth even against the backdrop of an A/C cabin.

Rear seating is spacious and comfortable, with three adults being able to sit side by side. Air vents, USB-C charging ports, and the comfort of the GLB250 cabin made a drive with family complaint-free. 

At night, the cabin sets the mood with ambient lighting that can change among 62 color options. We especially like the vent illumination as it reflects off the metal finish. 

Powertrain

Powered by a superb 2.0L inline turbo engine that produces 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the GLB250 launches like a rocket. Initial throttle response is smooth and strong, providing the confidence needed to merge at highway speeds or pass slower moving vehicles.

We thought Mercedes-Benz had a typo after seeing the power rating, as we felt the engine was working very little to move the crossover when needed. The turbo kicks in early on with continued solid power delivery as speed increases.

The eight-speed automatic shifts velvety smooth and helped accelerate the GLB250 quickly when needed, downshifting without delay. 

Our tester was equipped with the adjustable damping suspension system, and it was noticeable. Depending on the Dynamic Select mode, we could feel the difference in comfort and confidence. It’s an impressive system that shows the engineering prowess of Mercedes-Benz.

Fuel economy is rated 23 mpg city, 31 highway, and 26 combined. Our week-long evaluation averaged 28 mpg, which is better than we expected!

Safety

Active safety technology is where the GLB250 truly shines. Our tester was equipped with the Driver Assistance package which adds to the already comprehensive list of standard equipment. 

Active braking assistance, steering assistance, blind spot assistance, lane keep assistance, evasive steering assistance, and speed limit assistance all help to reduce driver fatigue and keep the GLB250 safe on the roadway.  

We found the extended restart in stop-and-go traffic to be especially helpful since most other systems require driver intervention after the vehicle comes to a stop. It’s nice to have another set of eyes that keep watching and know when to move forward with traffic.

The adaptive cruise system uses map and navigation data to control how the system reacts, for example, slowing down as it approaches a curve in the road. A nice touch that integrates the data from two systems and adds a level of refinement to the adaptive cruise.

The lane departure alert system vibrates the steering wheel to simulate rumble strips when the lane is departed. Rather than beeps that annoy everyone in the cabin, this method only alerts the driver, and also pulls the vehicle back into the lane.

Nighttime driving is safer thanks to very bright LED headlights that dim between high and low beams automatically.

Infotainment

The increased size of the two displays on the dash are highly recommended upgrades as part of the premium package. MBUX is an incredible system that integrates an AI assistant like Siri or Alexa called Interior Assistant, and she works amazingly well. She even has witty responses to silly questions!

Both displays are high definition and offer fantastic legibility. The menu structures are intuitive and make sense after just a few minutes of usage, and having multiple input sources from the steering wheel, touchpad on the center console, or the display itself, is a fantastic move on Mercedes’ part. The power of choice when it comes to interacting with the vehicle is key.

We dove through a number of features and customizable details that we were surprised to find, including a massage feature that uses the bolster adjustments and even regular power seat adjustments to reduce fatigue; an innovative use of existing features already built-in.

Navigating using MBUX was simple and fast by voice, rendering our typical usage of Apple CarPlay rare. The Mercedes navigation is simply that good!

One feature we especially loved was how the navigation system used one of the stereo cameras mounted behind the windshield to display a live image of the turn up ahead. It projects arrows and visual cues which make missing or confusing which street to turn onto a thing of the past.

Summary

After a week-long immersion, we struggled to find one fault with the GLB250. All aspects of this new crossover are superb and engineered intelligently.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling10
Braking10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy8
Noise10
Headlights10
Interior Fit and Finish10
Seating10
Visibility9
Gauges and Controls9
Infotainment10
Crash-Avoidance10
Total Score96


Make: Mercedes-Benz 
Model: GLB250
Trim Level: 4MATIC
Engine: 2.0 Turbo
Transmission: 8-speed Automatic
Options: Black Wood Trim, 19” wheels, Garage Door Opener, Panoramic Sunroof, Heated Steering Wheel, Adjustable Suspension, SXM, Heated Seats, Color Ambient Lighting, LED Logo Projectors, Driver Assistance Pkg, Parking Assistance Pkg, Multimedia Pkg, Premium Pkg

Base Price: $38,600
As-Tested Price: $51,405

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