This 2020 Mercedes GLB is the way to go
‘Hey Mercedes, read this car review’
2020 Mercedes GLB 250 4Matic SUV
Because of all the technology they put into cars these days, some of it way too complicated for its own good, I often get into a car that has just been delivered for review and start driving to see if the technology is intuitive enough to operate on the fly. Many times I have to pull over in a couple of blocks or so and check myself, but when I got behind the wheel of this Mercedes GLB 250 I picked up most of the important things right away. For some reason I just said out loud, “Mmm Mercedes,” and to my astonishment the car spoke back. “What can I help you with?” a female voice inquired. I bit. “Tune the radio to XM channel 26,” I said, and lo and behold it did.
What a wonderful feature. By voice, I changed the radio bands and stations, altered the temperature, fan speed and direction in the climate control, called up the map and initiated navigation. A friend of mine even asked, “Mercedes, what is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday?” to which Mercedes replied, “Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809.”
Like many luxury cars, the operation of these technological and entertainment amenities through the mouse-like pad in the console is a bit cumbersome, but with the voice command feature it becomes no big deal. Of course, it’s not perfect, as anyone who “speaks” to Alexa, Siri, Google, et al, can attest.
I know there are features like this in many cars these days, especially luxury cars, but in my experience, this was the easiest I have ever seen.
Besides, I’m biased. I have always been a Mercedes man. I like the way they drive. I like the way they feel. I like that of all the “luxury” brands – and especially BMW – the electronics/technology has never been so complicated that you couldn’t figure it out without consulting the manual or getting a PhD. In Mercedes I always feel safe, secure, and a little pampered.
For my money the GLB is the way to go. Not too big, not too small, the perfect combination for the city commute and hitting the highway. I did both and found it to be extremely admirable, as in I would love to own this vehicle. Around town it had plenty of power and great visibility (it sits up nice and high), yet it is small enough to fit into even downtown parking spaces.
But it was a weekend drive into the mountains that really cut it for me. The vehicle drives wonderfully, there’s no other way to put it. It is very quick when you need it, very smooth at all times, and also very quiet. And while I drive in the mountains often, this particular day I sort of haphazardly chose the curviest route ever – many turns and “esses” and switchbacks — and the handling was, as I wrote in my notes on the day, “amazing.” You have full control, and it was a pleasure to drive. And the power from this 2.0-liter in-line 4 turbo engine, putting out some 221 horsepower that felt like more, was impressive.
This 5-passenger SUV was very roomy in the front and second row seating areas, and had plenty of room in the way-back for groceries and cargo and gear. Plus the liftgate in the back was automatic with the kick of your leg under the back, so as a hands-free option for loading and unloading it was great. Also, there was a huge, two-part sunroof, over the front seas and the second-row seats, with a fabric cover that let in a ton of light when close, and a ton of air when open. I loved it.
Of course, this GLB had all of the modern bells and whistles both in terms of safety equipment (e.g., blind spot monitoring, emergency braking) and entertainment (satellite radio, Bluetooth, all app hookups, navigation), so I needn’t go into the details. What was different here was the area for the dials and gauges in the dash. Normally vehicles have a dash board, and in them you find instrument panels for speed, RPMs, tachometer, and all of the other information notes these days. Her though, the dash was kind of flat and the instrument panel was a 2.5-feet wide by 8-inches tall glass panel, like a TV screen. It was at first disconcerting, being so different, but I soon got used to it and found the lack of typical dashboard structure to be freeing.
Now the base price on my test drive model was not the $36,000 mentioned above, but rather $38,600 because this one was a 4Matic all-wheel-drive equipped model. They added on a few of the things I mentioned – panoramic sunroof ($1,500), a suspension with an adjustable damping ($990), and some premium stuff – and the bottom line came to $51,210 on the sticker. That seemed perfectly reasonable to me. That’s what a car of this quality, and equipped like this should cost.
If I was in my hey-day of hectic career and a young family, this is the car I would own.