Mercedes gave us our first peek at the GLB in concept form just a few months ago, displaying an off-road-ready compact family SUV that would seat up to seven. Now we're seeing the final production version of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB, and while it's lost some ruggedness thanks to a more road-oriented ride height and sensible tires, it keeps the optional third row and squared-off looks.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB First Look
A Compact 7-Seater With Off-Road Chops
It's a good-looking vehicle, both inside and out, even if it does look a bit more sedate than the concept. Mercedes has been knocking it out of the park recently in terms of design and execution, with sumptuous interiors packed with impressive technology features. We're confident the GLB will be good; the question is simply whether this is a niche Mercedes needs to fill.
What Is It?
The GLB is a new small luxury SUV that will slot in between Mercedes' subcompact GLA and compact GLC, coming in at a little more than an inch shorter than the latter. However, it offers an optional third row, expanding passenger capacity to seven. The sliding 60/40-split second-row seats should help make the third row more usable for children and smaller adults. Third-row cupholders, storage compartments and USB-C charging ports suggest that extra thought has been given to keeping rear occupants happy.
At launch, the GLB will only be available in GLB 250 and GLB 250 4Matic trims. Both use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel-drive 4Matic trim will come standard with an off-road package that includes additional drive settings designed to deliver better traction when the pavement runs out. Hill start assistance and downhill speed regulation are also included.
There will be heaps of available options, from the impressive MBUX infotainment system with its twin 10.25-inch displays to a full suite of driver aides, high-end audio and, of course, an illuminated front emblem. But the GLB won't be a slouch when it comes to standard features, with niceties such as a power liftgate, push-button start, power front seats, and LED headlight s included in the base price.
Why Does It Matter?
Small three-row SUVs are relatively rare, with almost none available from luxury makers. The GLB will be the proverbial pudding to prove whether there's an untapped hunger among small luxury SUV buyers for extra seating capacity. That said, it's also available as a two-row SUV that will offer Benz shoppers tougher styling than the GLC and more affordability than the sleeker GLC.
What Does It Compete With?
Mercedes seems to have the Land Rover Discovery Sport squarely in its sights. The two crossovers are nearly the same size, both offer an optional third row, and both have some off-road-focused features. It might seem like a mismatch to put a Benz up against a Rover, but the Disco Sport doesn't have any mechanical advantages. Its off-road capabilities are entirely based on software wizardry — just like the GLB. Don't forget about the three-row Tesla Model Y, by the way; it may be a relatively unconventional rival, but we wouldn't be surprised to see some cross-shopping between the two.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB looks to be a handsome and luxurious crossover, though how much utility the third row will add remains to be seen. A key question is whether the GLB is at the forefront of a coming wave of small three-row luxury SUVs or if this segment will remain too niche to get much traction with buyers.