Three-row SUVs don't have to be huge. Just check out the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class. It's equipped as a two-row five-seater as standard, but an optional third row transforms it into a small seven-seat SUV. This compact crossover, which slots between the GLA and GLC in Mercedes' lineup, was introduced for the 2020 model year. The GLB aims to provide luxury, technology, and spaciousness at a relatively affordable price point.
You want a three-row SUV. You also want a Mercedes. Should you get a GLB-Class? Well …
Let's start with the seating. In standard two-row, five-seat configuration, the GLB is roomy and has a spacious cargo area. Although the optional third row increases passenger capacity to seven, we think it's hardly worth bothering. Its legroom is so small that even children could feel cramped. Choosing it reduces second-row legroom, too.
Is the GLB a proper Mercedes? It has the three-pointed star logo, the latest MBUX infotainment system, and mini-GLS-Class design. But it doesn't feel particularly luxurious or high-quality. It rides poorly over rough roads, and the cabin becomes noisy at freeway speeds. Styling and features inside the cabin look nice, but there's lots of plasticky, cheap-feeling materials.
If you're after a seven-seat SUV, there are better-executed, higher-value options from other brands—it's worth it to go bigger. If you want a compact luxury crossover, the smaller GLA-Class or larger GLC-Class deliver the Mercedes experience more successfully.
Read our comparison of a GLA and GLB right here.
The GLB 250 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine producing 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It's connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, with FWD standard or Mercedes' 4Matic AWD system optional. In MotorTrend testing, a GLB 250 with AWD accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. EPA-rated fuel economy is 23/31 mpg city/highway for FWD models and 23/30 mpg for AWD models.
Need a small SUV but still want something fun to drive? Check out the AMG GLB 35. Like the GLB 250 it's also powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four, but it's tuned to produce 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Mercedes estimates the GLB 35's 0-60 time at 5.1 seconds. That launch is enabled by the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and AMG-tuned AWD system. Fuel economy should be approximately 23/29 mpg.
In addition to the extra power, the GLB 35 gets more powerful brakes and sport-tuned suspension. It'll stand out next to the standard GLB thanks to its larger wheels, aerodynamic body styling, and large dual exhaust outlets. Inside, carbon-fiber trim decorates the cabin while the driver grips an AMG steering wheel with paddle shifters.
Standard driver-assist and active safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warnings, automatic windshield wipers, and crosswind steering assist. Adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and semi-autonomous lane changing are optional. Adaptive headlights and automatic high-beams are also offered separately.
In five-passenger configuration, the GLB offers 27.0 cubic feet behind the second row, or 62.0 cubic feet with the second row folded down. In seven-passenger setup, there are 5.1 cubic feet behind the third row, 24.0 cubic feet behind the second row, and 56.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
Front-row headroom measures 40.7 inches in the GLB, which compares to 39.4 inches in the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Second-row headroom is 39.3 inches in the GLB, a bit more than the 38.7 inches in the Discovery Sport. Front-row legroom is 41.4 inches in the Mercedes and 39.0 inches in the Land Rover. Second-row legroom measures 38.1 inches in both vehicles.
Like the Discovery Sport, the standard GLB configuration seats five, but a third row is available for seven-seat capacity. The third row offers 34.8 inches of headroom and 29.1 inches of legroom. Choosing the third row reduces second-row headroom to 38.7 inches and legroom to 36.9 inches.
As standard, the GLB is equipped with 7.0-inch screens for the gauge cluster display and infotainment touchscreen. Those can be upgraded to 10.3-inch units. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and five USB-C ports (three in the first row, two in the second) are standard. Premium tech features like a wireless charging pad, head-up display, built-in navigation, and 12-speaker Burmester audio system are available.
To make the GLB more upscale, Mercedes offers the Premium package. Useful and cool features include keyless entry with push-button start, auto-dimming rearview mirrors, and power-folding side mirrors. It also upgrades the standard 7.0-inch gauge cluster and infotainment displays to 10.3-inch units for a higher-tech and more, well, premium ambiance.