Caraganza First Drive Review 2020 Mercedes GLB 250 4Matic: I’ll have the Chablis please

 

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I like really nice things.  I’d rather have a filet mignon over a Porterhouse, a Chablis (preferably a Chardonnay); and a cheeseburger is okay but only if on a Brioche bun. All while wearing an Armani suit.

Of course, I can’t actually afford to own an Armani suit, and the only time I have filet mignon is when it’s on sale, like a very good sale. And I have a coupon.

The same with cars, Sure, I’d like to have a nice luxury car in my driveway, but have to settle for something that will still allow me to afford my house payment every month with a little left over for some fortified wine in a box.

And that’s why I would never consider having anything with a Mercedes badge parked out front.

That is until recently.

For the unaware, I get a different vehicle every week. A few short weeks ago I have seven days with a new American luxury SUV, which for reasons soon to become obvious, was something that I liked but could never afford since it had an MSRP of just over $70,000.

Fast forward a few weeks and Mercedes delivers me an all new for 2020 GLB 250. And I was in for quite the surprise.

The GLB 250 is a new midsize SUV that (naturally) slots between the GLA and GLC class.  Not exactly right in between, but a little closer to the GLC than the GLA (the wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than the GLA and 1.7 inches shorter than the GLC).

There’s only one trim level in the GLB; 4Matic, or all-wheel drive in non-Mercedes speak.  Of course, you can add a bunch of stuff and my GLB for the week was indeed loaded.

I had the GLE (biggest of the flock) a few months ago. I found It to be so big that it was almost overbearing.  This GLB seemed to me anyway, to be the right size.  The interior is cozy, but not too tight. Although to be fair Mercedes did put a third road of seats and unless you are a child you won’t be using those on a regular basis.  Beyond that the interior is a pretty nice place to be.

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The simple center console is capped with the Mercedes turbine-style air vents and MBUX single-tablet digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen (I had 10.5 inch which was upgraded from the standard 7 inch).

Outside the upright windshield and hood give the GLB a boxier look than the GLA or GLC, but without the sharp angles of the G class.

Under the hood, the only engine available is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. It delivers 221 horses and 258 pounds of torque.  Plenty enough power. And on the road the GLC drives more like a sedan than an SUV, and that’s very good thing.

Yes, trying to figure out all the Mercedes tech can take someone with an engineering degree to master, but that’s only a minor annoyance. If I owned any Mercedes it might take awhile to set up, but once done, it’s done.

While I didn’t have a massager for the heated (and cooled) seats, there was something called Energizing Seat Kinetics that when engaged will make minute changes to the seat adjustments that is supposed to help with the natural strain put on our posture during long trips. I didn’t take any real long trips during my week, but I didn’t have a sore back either.

That was just one of the arrays of options stuffed into my GLB.  I also had the Premium package, with blind-spot monitoring, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-folding sideview mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, and dual 10.3-inch digital displays for the infotainment and gauge cluster. There was also an AMG Line body kit which I found to be somewhat useless since it gives you the AMG look without the AMG performance and costs an extra $2240.  Though when the AMG performance model does come out later this year, I sure would like to give it a go.

My tester also had the Driver Assistance, Parking Assistance, Exterior Lighting, Multimedia and Night packages all of which added a total of $9680 to the MSRP.  The bottom line: A loaded 2020 GLB 250 with all-wheel drive will come in at $57,475.

Take out a few of those addons and it wouldn’t take too much to get this Mercedes for around $50,000.

With roads increasingly filled with SUVs both large and small, the GLB is a definite contender.  The view while driving is great, the drive and power more than adequate, the comfort top notch and while the third seat will never be useful for much more than groceries, five people won’t be cramped.

After a week with it, I had to say I was impressed, especially seeing the price. Compared to the American luxury SUV I had recently that came in at $70,000, the GLB would be a no-brainer.  With the right incentives and discounts, I could have a nice thing in my driveway and have enough left over to for a nice steak dinner.

The 2020 Mercedes GLB 250 4Matic
MSRP: $38,600
MSRP (as tested): $57,475
Engine:  2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 221 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed shiftable automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 23 city, 31 highway
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 33 mpg
Exterior Dimensions
Wheelbase (inches): 111.4
Length (inches): 182.4
Width, without mirrors (inches): 72.2
Height (inches): 65.3
Front Track Width (inches): 63.2
Rear Track Width (inches): 63.2
Liftover Height (inches): 29.1

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity: 5
Front Head Room (inches): 40.7
Front Leg Room (inches): 41.4
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 55.9
Second Row Head Room (inches): 39.3
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 38.1
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches): 54.9
Cargo Volume Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 62
Cargo Volume Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 20.1
Cargo Volume Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 20.1

Warranty
Basic Miles/km 50,000
Basic Years 4
Corrosion Miles/km 50,000
Corrosion Years 4
Drivetrain Miles/km 50,000
Drivetrain Years 4
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 50,000
Roadside Assistance Years 4

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Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.

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