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FILLING A GAP: 2020 MERCEDES-BENZ GLB250

Did you know something was missing at Mercedes-Benz? Probably didn’t even notice. Well, rest assure a gap has been filled.

Third row crossovers are quite scarce when it comes to the sparkling star badge as the larger GLE and GLS are designated the more family friendly alternative should one need to carry an extra load of beings. With the GLA and GLC left at the starting point of the crossover lineup, their compact, sporty composure was never really a suitable desire to have an extra row of space… until now. Sitting between those two, the all-new GLB250 with its boxy alternative lifestyle an optional third-row now fills in the gap of the consumer that would think the GLE is far too big for their traveling companion needs.

Starting a hair more than the GLA, the GLB250 hits $36,600 – being $6000 less than the GLC which starts at $42,500. For that, the GLB comes standard with a cheerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine pressing 221-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque that gleefully accelerates to 60-mph in less than seven seconds. In sport mode, its eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is snappy like a gay fashion designer and enjoys tooting its own turbo hiss horn. When left in comfort mode, the standard drive mode upon start up, we see some dreariness to the transmissions reaction and becomes as drab as a politician’s pole numbers.

Like a typical Mercedes-Benz, the GLB250 handles like it was designed to conquer parking spot roulette with a crisp chassis and nicely elevated center of gravity. The steering handles with refinement, with a comfortable weighted motion. The suspension manages to gloss over road cracks like Botox to a d-rated models forehead. And while our tester here saw the more entry-side of the GLB options list, its 4MATIC all-wheel drive system can be had for $2000 more. Later this year Mercedes-AMG has announced an AMG GLB35 will be going on sale and will be equipped with spunky 302-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, 295 lb-ft of torque and standard all-wheel drive.

Inside, it is very Mercedes-esk with plenty of faux leather and the smelling’s of melted crayons after a sitting in the hot sun. Its contemporary setting with attractive use of silver and black trims gives it an upscale premium atmosphere, like you’re sitting in a more expensive Benz. Our tester did feature the $2200 Premium Package that incorporated that fantastically plotted dual 10.25-inch display screens along with the $1150 Multimedia Package that included Mercedes’ latest Navigation software that activates on command and augments video during routed guidance. Navigating these screens is as simple as swiping your finger across one of the more better functioning touch-sensitive pads in the industry.

Mercedes has taken extra steps in the namesake of safety but this may be one safety package worth skipping. The GLB250 comes standard with Active Braking Assist in the event it detects a forward collision; however, its $2250 Driver Assistance Package replaces that system with a full host of driver assistance aids such as adaptive cruise control with active distance assist, active steering assist, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, active speed limit, active emergency stop assist and much more active, active assists. It’s like have your mother in the passenger seat; except this one gets a little too hostile in the assist functionality. Having similar experiences in the AMG-GLE63S, the speed limit assist tends to read the speed limit signs incorrectly and causes an instant, abrupt slow down at cruising highway speeds and heavens forbid we stray from our lane as we hastily are put back into place. Oh my. Needless to say this system was turned off.

Since our subject tester was missing the key element of what makes this crossover so special, its optional $850 third-row seats – there was plenty of rear seat room and cargo capacity – almost a little too much for a crossover of this class. With or without the extra row, the second-row seats can slide back and forth and recline as needed for either added passenger comfort or additional rear cargo requirements. The setting inside is comfortable and cozy and thanks to its boxy design there is more head room than the Popemobile.

In the premium game of crossovers, the third-row option isn’t something that has been heavily looked at. The Lexus NX, BMW X1 and Audi Q3 – all similarly priced, similarly sized and similarly equipped don’t offer the optional third-row. So again, Mercedes is filling a gap that we didn’t know we even needed. Where the GLA and GLC are more seen as lifestyle crossovers, the GLB is the supplementary family style urbanite. The third-row isn’t something that is going to be used everything, otherwise we’d suggest something a little more un-German and more comfortable for those passengers. But when it comes to taking the co-workers out to lunch or having the in-laws for the weekend, you don’t have to worry about not having enough room.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2020 MERCEDES-BENZ GLB250
Base Price: $36,600
As Tested: $45,265
Color: POLAR WHITE

PERFORMANCE SPECIFICATIONS

Engine: 2.0-LITER TURBOCHARGED FOUR-CYLINDER
Horsepower/Torque: 221-HORSEPOWER / 258 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED DUAL-CLUTCH AUTOMATIC
Drivetrain: FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE
EPA Rated Fuel Economy: NOT LISTED
AS TESTED: 26.1-MPG COMBINED / 30.9-MPG HIGHWAY (200 MILE TEST)
Fuel Range: 300 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±7.0 SECONDS

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