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2024 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class Review: Baby three-row done right

2024 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class Review: Baby three-row done right


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Pros: Huge space and great mpg for its segment; high-style interior; abundant tech options; spunky AMG 35

Cons: Unrefined transmission and throttle response; infotainment system is flashy but can overwhelm

In a world where small SUVs can easily fall into impractical penalty box territory, the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is a breath of fresh air. Unlike many of its peers, it’s big enough, versatile enough and premium enough to warrant the elevated price it commands and make it a genuine luxury offering, even if it is among the cheaper options Mercedes offers.

What’s the GLB’s secret? Well, as small SUVs go, it’s actually pretty big inside. Credit the practical, boxy shape and whip-smart packaging. They combine to deliver a usable, comfortable space with a family-friendly back seat and class-dominating cargo carrying capacity. The material quality and design of the interior are both above average for the segment, and there's no shortage of tech goodies from Mercedes' deep toy box available -- just know that infotainment can be a bit overwhelming to find what you're looking for. Another potential downside is the GLB 250's powertrain, particularly its dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which can be slow in responding to throttle inputs and generally feels less refined than what you'll find in rivals (most notably the BMW X1). In other dynamics regards, it's quite competent, while the AMG-prepped GLB35 goes much further than mere competence by basically being a hot hatch with better visibility. It runs circles around the likes of the X1, Audi Q3, Lexus UX and even the Mercedes-Benz GLA as a practical daily driver. Ultimately, we recommend both GLB models.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it's like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

What's new for 2024?

Mercedes put the GLB under the knife for a little nip-and-tuck for 2024. The fundamentals remain the same, but the engine gets a mild-hybrid boost and the styling and interior both received attention. The big inclusion in this round of updates is the latest version of Benz’s MBUX Infotainment system. Gone is the old 7-inch base display; the new standard, 10.25-inch setup packs improved performance and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The old console-mounted touchpad controller is also gone, leaving behind a shallow, grippy storage pad of questionable value. Some behind-the-scenes updates improve the performance of the GLB’s active safety systems and, for the first time, a heated steering wheel can be optioned with AMG appearance packages.

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What are the GLB interior and in-car technology like?

No matter where you look in the GLB, its clever packaging impresses. It offers lots of storage in both the passenger cabin and cargo area, making it more practical than most luxury offerings in this segment (and indeed many others). The GLB’s driving position is excellent, and its front- and second-row seats are comfortable and supportive with plenty of adjustment.

The GLB is on the inexpensive side for a Mercedes-Benz, but the quality of materials and available options are on par or better for expectations at this price point. The fancier options will drive up the price, of course, but even the fundamental components are high-quality and precise.

Every GLB includes the last iteration of Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX infotainment suite, which is controlled by a collection of redundant input choices: a new dual 10.25-inch display, steering wheel controls and natural-language commands. The old center console touchpad has been evicted for 2024, though, which is OK from a functionality stand point (we probably used it less than anything else) but the oddly shaped, grippy storage pad that is left in its wake is questionably useful (an iPhone 15 won't fit in it for example) and seems like a waste of space in what is otherwise a well laid out interior. Also, while we like the infotainment system's "have it your way approach" to inputs and appreciate this system's rapid responses and pretty graphics, it just isn't always simple to use. Standard Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are both great to have, and we appreciate that Mercedes makes it easy to quickly go between the MBUX and Apple/Android interfaces with permanently docked icons in the screen's upper left corner.

How big is the GLB?

The GLB's wheelbase is closer to that of many midsize offerings, and its overall length exceeds that of most competitors. You don't really notice this behind the wheel – it still feels pretty small – and this extra length combined with the boxy design results in the GLB being a cargo-hauling rockstar. On paper, Mercedes says the GLB offers 24 cubic feet with the second-row seats up, but in reality, there's actually far more than that number would imply. Its rear load floor can be lowered to accommodate larger items, but even with the floor in its standard position, the GLB can swallow more cargo than crossovers in the bigger, pricier compact segment.

This extra length translates into tons of second-row space, where passengers will find sliding and reclining seats for extra comfort (you don't get those in the mechanically related GLA). The combination of fold-down seatbacks and sliding bases can also be exploited for additional cargo space if the roomy hatch alone will not suffice, making the GLB a versatility rockstar, too.

The GLB also has available third-row seating, which its smaller competitors and even those in the larger compact class lack. We suppose this option doesn't hurt, but these optional rearmost seats just aren't that habitable, even for kids. We'd skip them or get a non-luxury three-row vehicle for the same price.

What are the GLB 250 and AMG 35 fuel economy and performance specs?

The GLB 250 name indicates that the GLB in question has the base engine: a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, with a 13-horsepower boost coming from its mild-hybrid assist system.  It has an eight-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and standard front-wheel drive. In this configuration, the GLB 250 is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. With the “4Matic” all-wheel-drive system, those numbers drop to 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined.

The Mercedes-AMG GLB 35 also has a 2.0-liter turbo, but it’s been worked over by Mercedes’ AMG tuning division to produce 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. It’ll hit 60 in 5.4 seconds. The eight-speed DCT and standard all-wheel drive are also special AMG versions. It achieves 21 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined.

There is technically an electric GLB available, although it’s officially known as the Mercedes-Benz EQB. You can read our EQB first drive review here.