In the past, if you wanted a Mercedes-Benz with a plug, your options were limited to the fancy-pants flagship EQS with a sticker north of $100,000.
While there’s a boatload of new electric Benzes on the way—the E-Class sized EQE sedan is due soon—so far there’s been nothing to woo more price-conscious EV buyers.
Until now. The brand new 2022 EQB SUV is Mercedes boasts a starting price of $54,500—or just $47,000 if you figure in Uncle Sam’s $7,500 EV tax credit—and is a deal on wheels.
What’s more, it’s a proper family hauler with its tall-riding SUV body, roomy cabin, and optional third-row seats for seven-passenger versatility.
It’s based closely on Mercedes’ GLB crossover that’s been around for a couple of years now. The main difference, looks-wise, is the big, glossy-black panel at the front with its distinctive wafer-thin LED light bar running full width. At the back, there’s also new LED lighting.
But apart from some new options of aero-style 18- and 19-inch wheels— alas, the United States doesn’t get the super-cool Euro-spec 20-inch rims—that’s about it.
As you might expect, all the big changes are found beneath the skin, with a 70.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the seats and electric motors front and rear to give all-wheel drive and a range of up to 243 miles.
You can take your pick from a pair of EQB models. The $54,500 EQB 300 packs 225 horseys and 288 lb-ft of torque and will scoot you from standstill to 60mph in 7.0 seconds.
For a little extra zip, the $58,050 EQB 350 uses essentially the same battery and motors but gets uprated to 288-hp and a more substantial 384 lb-ft of torque. It gets you to 60 mph from zero in a feisty 6.0 seconds, though range drops to 227 miles.
Of course, there are different levels of luxe you can pick. There’s the base model, an Exclusive, and the top-of-the-line Pinnacle with a thumping Burmester sound system, surround-view camera and a big panoramic glass roof.
Naturally, there’s an AMG package for an extra $3,250 that comes with 19-inch AMG wheels, lots of sexy-black exterior bits, bolstered sports seats with MB-Tex microfiber inserts, and an AMG steering wheel.
But one of the best EQB features actually comes free of charge. Included with all models is two years’ worth of unlimited 30-minute charging at Electrify America locations. A 30-minute charge, according the Mercedes, should be enough to amp up your EQB’s battery from 10 to 80 percent.
I recently got the chance to drive both EQB models—the 300 and 350—at a Mercedes media event and came away pretty impressed.
I’ve always loved the size of the original GLB—not too big, not too small. And now with electric power, the performance sparkles and 200-plus miles of range means an absence of range anxiety.
And like pretty much all EVs these days, the slingshot, off-the-line acceleration is totally addictive and a lot of fun, while the low center of gravity makes the EQB feel stable and planted through the curves.
Inside, the EQB is largely unchanged from the gas-powered GLB, with the same MBUX infotainment and pair of 10.25-inch screens and terrific “Hey Mercedes” voice commands.
There’s room for five in the cabin, though checking the box for the $1,250 third-row seating option gives you seven-seat carrying capacity. No, anyone over 5’ 5” won’t really fit back there, but for young kids, it’s perfect.
Of course, there’s no shortage of choices in this rapidly expanding mid-range EV class. Both Kia and Hyundai offer terrific options with their Ioniq 5 and EV6 models, respectively, while Tesla’s quirky-looking Model 3 offers greater range though at a higher price.
Which, for me, makes the high-quality, beautifully built, roomy, and versatile EQB the new benchmark here. It’s a B that gets and A.