Base Camp: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250
Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle on sale in Canada and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we'll let you know. If not, we'll recommend one that earns a passing grade.
It will not have escaped your notice there is no shortage of all-wheel drive crossovers for sale in today’s marketplace. Rushing to fill every need like a harried builder rushes to plug leaks in a roof, companies are steadily introducing variants to quench buyer thirst for this type of rig.
Compact crossovers aren’t new. What is new, at least in Mercedes-Benz showrooms, is a right-sized ute bearing squared-off styling and a lantern jaw not unlike that found on much more expensive models. It’s like when your younger brother followed you to the gym and started doing the same workouts.
For the 2020 model year, the GLB 250 occupies one of the least expensive rungs of the Mercedes-Benz ladder, priced at $43,990. It is all-wheel drive, of course, and powered by a 2.0L turbocharged inline-four making 221 horsepower and 258lb.-ft of torque. This is mated to an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and should provide a 0-100 km/h acceleration time in less than 7 seconds. Be forewarned: M-B recommends a steady diet of premium unleaded.
The GLB’s handsome face is framed by a bold grille and functional chrome-look roof rails. It somehow accomplishes the trick of looking purposeful and compact, thanks to short overhangs and doors that sweep down into the rocker panels. The latter add an illusion of height and help prevent muddy trouser legs when one is on their way to Very Important Meetings. Note that Polar White and Night Black are the only zero-dollar paint colours.
Someone in Stuttgart finally got the memo that entry-level Mercedes customers don’t want to sit in a cut-rate interior. This cabin shares many styling touches with its vastly more expensive brothers, including bold air vents and trim which uses an intricate geometric spin pattern to add an intriguing texture to the dash and door inlays. Heated power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and multiple USB ports, stand ready for duty.
What We’d Choose
A true no-options Mercedes can be hard to find on dealer lots, in the same way that a German sense of humour can be tough to locate. It’s there – but not obvious and certainly not in abundance. This is thanks, in large part, to the Mercedes skill in offering tempting option packages. A $1,700 Sport trim endows GLB 250 with tasty AMG-like styling cues, different seats, and shifting paddles. A $3,300 Premium Package ups the infotainment and instrument cluster screens to 10.25-inches each, giving the place more than a whiff of S-Class sedan.
The $250 heated steering wheel is a kick in the chops considering such a feature is standard equipment on machines costing thousands less (though, admittedly, they do not bear the three-pointed star on their nose) and charging $475 in a vehicle of this type for satellite radio is simply obscene. A variety of upholstery and dashboard trim options can bump the price by over $2,000 as well.
However, the 12-speaker Burmester 12-speaker surround sound audio system is a good deal at just $700 and surely pairs well with SiriusXM capability. Adding both those features holds the price of this handsome all-wheel drive trucklet to about $45,000.