Behold a fuel economy champion.
Yes, I know that's a Mercedes-Benz crossover (the GLB 250 4MATIC to be precise), but man, did it leave an impression when it comes to efficiency.
Here's the story:
Back in January, my wife, daughter, son-in-law, the two grandkids and I were all supposed to go to Disneyland for two days. COVID blew up, we backed out hoping the kids would do the same (they didn't, but didn't catch it) and that was that---leaving my wife and me with four tickets to Disneyland (two days x two people). I guess it was August when I said "Hey, I'll bet these tickets aren't good forever", looked it up and found that (a) they aren't; (b) they expire in January of next year; and (c) we were so frugal in our purchase of the tickets that the dates available for park reservations in the four months-plus remaining on said tickets came down to a literal handful of days---and when other obligations were factored in, there were only two days available where we could realistically do it. Time off from the day job was scheduled, a quick trip planned and the lovely folks at Mercedes-Benz USA and Page One Automotive arranged for the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC for us to take down to Anaheim and back (850 miles roundtrip plus incidental around-SoCal miles).
There's no voodoo under the hood of the GLB 250. It's a pretty straightforward turbocharged 2-liter inline four-cylinder. 221 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Fuel tank capacity is 15.9 gallons. And yet, even before essentially coasting downhill for the last 60 miles into Los Angeles, I was averaging well above the EPA estimate of 30 miles per gallon highway (the city estimate is 22). The trip computer was showing me in the mid-30s (35, 36) on the flat stretch of Interstate 5 through the Central Valley. And I made the 425-mile trip----with a quarter-tank remaining.
I knew I couldn't replicate it on the return trip because of the climb back up the Grapevine, so I topped off the tank in the San Fernando Valley on the way back. We also went home a different way---moving over to Highway 99 through the Central Valley after climbing the Grapevine. 399 miles from topoff to my driveway---and again---a quarter-tank of gas remaining. No doubt driver behavior helped. I hadn't driven more than 200 miles in one shot since the beginning of the pandemic---hadn't driven to L.A. in almost four years. So, I drove conservatively, no more than 5 miles an hour above the posted speed limit in the right lane, only passing when the car in front of me would slow me below the posted limit. That resulted in a fairly steady cruise with a light throttle foot. Still, the results are well beyond what the EPA estimate would suggest. Especially for a car that is capable of doing 0-60 sprints in 6.5 seconds. For more power, there's also the Mercedes-AMG GLB 35, which I reviewed in August of 2021, and which can make that run from naught to 60 in 5.1 seconds.
For a small crossover, the GLB 250 offers tons of space for five people and their things (an area where shaping a vehicle as much like a box as possible really pays off).
It's also very reasonable---especially since it's a Benz. The base price of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC is $40,600 and for that, standard, you get a power driver's seat with lumbar support and memory, rain-sensing wipers, keyless start, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power liftgate, LED headlamps and taillamps and a better than average audio system. By the way, the two-tone interior (in our case, Neva Grey and black MB-Tex)? That's a no-extra-cost option.
Just stock, that would be a solid package. But, of course, there were extra-cost options on our test vehicle, and I'd be less than truthful if I said most of them didn't make the GLB even nicer. I could make a case for saving the $360 for the AMG Line sport steering wheel, the $2,340 for the AMG Line Package (body styling elements and a diamond-block grille), the $275 for the LED logo projectors and the $280 for the garage door opener. But the wheel locking bolts ($150) are cheap insurance, the $990 for adjustable damping suspension pays off on long drives, I've learned to love heated front seats ($500), the Multimedia Package including navigation, augmented reality for navigation and traffic sign assist ($1,300) is a great aid, as is the Driver Assistance Package Lite (active brake assist with cross-traffic function, active distance assist cruise control, active steering assist, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, active lane change assist, active speed limit assist, active emergency stop assist, evasive steering assist, route-based speed adaptation, and extended restart in stop-and-go traffic) for another $1,300. And truth be told, the $1,850 Premium Package with dual 10.25-inch displays, KEYLESS-GO, and a 115-volt power outlet is something I'd say yes to, as well. All together, with $1,050 destination and delivery, the as-tested price of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4MATIC is $50,995. Totally reasonable for a premium-quality small crossover with solid performance and better-than-expected fuel economy.
I've said before that a long roadtrip is a good way to get to know a vehicle. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 is a crossover I'd be happy to drive anywhere.