Both the compact and subcompact crossover segments are awash with highly capable vehicles, with more than a few proudly bearing the Mercedes-Benz Tri-Star. But for 2020, the Germans have decided that, perhaps, the subcompact segment needs to evolve to meet the challenges of a changing market, and the Mercedes GLB still delivers the dexterity of a smaller crossover on the busy city streets that buyers want, without sacrificing the practicality of a larger vehicle. Thus, the GLB was born. Marketed towards young professionals who may be thinking of growing their family, the SUV is slightly larger than its GLA sibling, with more than enough space for five passengers and their luggage, or even seven passengers if you opt for the available third row of seats. It's powered by a more than capable turbocharged four-cylinder engine, borrowed from its acclaimed sibling, the CLA luxury sedan. With 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque on hand, the GLB gets around town with ease, and it does so with a level of refinement few can match. It may be a bit sparsely appointed for established Mercedes shoppers, but newcomers will find it has all the basics and an appealing starting price of just $36,600.
The GLB-Class is a brand-new entry to the Mercedes-Benz stable for 2020 and, as such, has no immediate predecessors with which to be compared in the USA.
As the automaker's latest market entrant for 2020, the Mercedes GLB's price is relatively reasonable for a luxury vehicle. The standard front-wheel-drive variant of the SUV will cost you just $36,600 MSRP while opting for the available all-wheel drivetrain will add another $2,000 to the bill. However, the GLB is still very much an entry-level crossover and, as such, doesn't come with all the fancy gizmos and gadgets many Merc buyers will be expecting. If you absolutely need these high-tech add-ons, there are certainly more than enough on offer, but you had best be prepared for the significant increase in price that comes with this. These prices don't include tax, registration, licensing, or Mercedes' $995 destination charge.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
|GLB 250 4MATIC||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Many Mercedes-Benz fans will probably be expecting the zippy subcompact to be pretty athletic, but it's focus on practicality becomes abundantly clear once you're on the move. The powertrain has plenty of power to move the small crossover, but it just doesn't have the handling of more nimble rivals like the BMW X1 or Audi Q3. The steering is light and precise, perfect for getting around town or maneuvering around tight parking lots, but there is almost no feedback.
The suspension is pretty soft for the segment, too, delivering better ride quality than crossovers that focus more on the driving experience. While this is definitely good in an SUV marketed towards families that are likely to have little ones, it's not as appealing to those who still want to get a thrill from their daily driver.
Along with the smooth ride, the GLB also presents a cabin that is well-built and well-insulated. There is very little wind and road noise, and the gentle drone of the turbo four-pot is muffled under normal levels of acceleration.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The GLB may be new to the US market, but it's bound to make a splash. The subcompact crossover segment grows increasingly competitive each year, and Mercedes' latest entry tries to fill a rather niche subsegment. With a capable four-cylinder engine and a surprisingly spacious cabin, it offers the same kind of performance as the popular GLA. However, where the smaller vehicle is a little more fun to drive, the GLB is more practical thanks to its much larger standard cargo space and available third row of seats.
Still, the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are close competitors with similar strengths. Both are more enjoyable to drive and offer comparable cargo capacity, but the Merc boasts the smoother ride and more comfortable interior, especially over long drives. It's also pretty affordable for the segment, although this comes at the cost of standard features. If you want the best the GLB-Class has to offer, you're going to have to pay well beyond the starting price.
There are more established subcompacts with solid track records on the market, but the GLB is just starting out, and we expect it to make a good name for itself.
There isn't all that much choice when it comes to the GLB crossover. You either get the front-wheel-drive version or the all-wheel-drive. However, the standard models are a little lacking when it comes to certain features, such as the safety suite. To remedy this, we suggest looking at the Driver Assistance Package for the added blind-spot assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and collision avoidance tech. Shoppers who want the added luxury of a more premium Mercedes-Benz crossover but are happy with the practicality of a subcompact could also consider adding the available genuine leather upholstery for an extra $1,450, but opting for this automatically includes the AMG Line or seat heating/ventilation packages, which adds a few thousand dollars on top of this. Still, it pairs well with the available $325 natural wood trims.
|Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class||221 hp||24/32 mpg||$38,600|
|Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class SUV||255 hp||22/27 mpg||$43,850|
|BMW X3||248 hp||23/29 mpg||$46,200|
The GLC-Class has been around for a few years already, and it has certainly earned its reputation as a comfortable and luxurious compact SUV. Set in a slightly higher segment, the GLC, naturally, gets a slightly stronger engine to carry its extra weight around town. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine develops 255 hp and 273 lb-ft for either the rear wheels or all four wheels. Despite being classified as a compact SUV, the GLC isn't actually any bigger than the odd-job GLB, which actually offers more passenger and cargo space and an available third row of seats. The GLC is plusher inside, though, and it comes with more standard features, but you pay a fair sum for this improvement, with the base model going for $42,500. Sometimes, newer is better, and that seems to be true in the case of the GLB-Class, which offers all the practicality of a larger vehicle at a much lower price.
The BMW X3 is a hard car to beat, even for other compact SUVs that challenge it on equal footing. It gets a capable 248-hp turbo four-pot as standard, but can be equipped with a beastly turbocharged six-cylinder that develops 382 hp and 365 lb-ft. As such, it's not hard to believe that it's hella fun to drive. It isn't quite as soft to ride in as the GLB, but it's not far behind, and the extra level of enjoyment is certainly worth the small sacrifice. The X3 is also remarkably practical, with excellent cargo space and more than enough passenger space for five. Plenty of features come standard on the BMW, and it isn't that much more expensive than the Merc GLB. There's a reason we give the BMW X3 an almost perfect score, and the latecomer that is the GLB-Class still has a ways to go to prove itself.
The most popular competitors of 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class: