2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB Review: Lowering Your Electric Bill
The EQB is a more affordable way to own a Mercedes EV.
Like many automakers, Mercedes is rapidly transitioning much of its lineup to battery-electric power across all size classes. The small EQB 300 SUV offers a driving experience that's hushed and precise.
The positive points of small Mercedes cars in the past also apply to the EQB 300. Driving quality, fit and finish, leading-edge technology, and style are prime factors for the legion of small luxury SUV buyers in the market; the EQB 300 hits several, but misses on others.
Though the electric EQB 300 (the subject of this review) is a new model for 2022, Mercedes bases it on the GLB internal-combustion-engine (ICE) model, which has been on the market since 2019. The EQB 300 is about $14,000 more than the GLB 250 4Matic, so your electric propulsion will cost substantially more in a vehicle of the same size.
For this 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB review, Mercedes-Benz provided the test vehicle. I used a variety of roads and a repeatable test route of urban, suburban, and highway driving in Arizona as a comparator to other cars. The EQB came with a short options list, including metallic paint, 19-inch wheels, walnut wood interior trim, a panoramic sunroof, Speed Limit Assist, and heated front seats for a rather plump manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of $59,325, including the $1,050 destination charge.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB Review: The Design
Mercedes does a decent job of creating some distinctiveness in the bodywork, but because there's not much a designer can do with a boxy form factor, the EQB gets a lukewarm pass from my critical eye. However, we spend more time inside our cars than outside, so interior quality is likely more important for buyers than exterior design. And the EQB fulfills some Mercedes design and interior promises, but doesn't deliver on others.
The instrument panel housing both 10.25-inch displays places a wide swath of continuous glass across the front and middle of the dashboard, so you don't perceive them as separate displays. Digital instruments directly in front of the driver are also configurable and have excellent graphics. That panel extends to a center display for infotainment controls. This wide panel, the multi-function steering wheel, and the center touchpad controller outclass the rest of the interior and materials.
The seats, center binnacle, top of the dashboard, rear seats, and even the cargo cover look and feel second-rate compared with the high-tech digital bits in the driver's view. While this finish quality would be unacceptable in a higher-end Mercedes E-Class or S-Class, it would be perfectly fine in a Honda or Subaru. But one of the main draws to driving a Mercedes in the first place is enjoying high quality in the look and feel of things inside, along with that rewarding, sophisticated driving quality.
All the controls and switches make perfect sense in their placement. You never fumble around to adjust the wipers or ventilation on the fly if you know you can access some of those secondary adjustments via the main pages on the touchscreen. Ventilation adjustments to temperature and fan speed come via hard buttons below the dashboard vents.
Seat comfort is a slight letdown. The front chairs provide flexibility in adjusting to find a good position for most drivers, but the seat bottoms are short and offer limited thigh support, making long-distance drives a bit fatiguing. The front seats have manually adjustable thigh bolsters, but they need to reach farther to the sides of the seat cushion to catch where your legs naturally splay when driving. And the rear seats offer even less thigh support. On the positive side, the rear seatbacks recline, and there's lots of rear-seat headroom.
Three USB-C charging ports flank a two-prong, 115-volt outlet in the rear of the center console. Surprisingly, there's no cutout under the rear floor to stow the cargo cover when you've lowered the rear seats for large objects. Also, in the small-but-annoying department, there's no tether on the floor panel to hook it to the roof to keep it raised while accessing the charging inverter or shuffling things under the floor.
There's also no frunk (front trunk) up front for cargo, groceries, and the like. The former engine bay of the GLB houses a variety of electrical brains and mechanical motors rather than burying them underneath the car's floor, which may make servicing them in the future easier (though few of these components likely need servicing). On the plus side, storage and cargo space are quite generous for such a small SUV, with 22 cu-ft behind the second row of seats. The front center binnacle is also deeper than usual.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB Review: The Technology
My EQB 300 test vehicle had the standard audio/infotainment system, offering a high level of functionality and user-friendliness. A higher-fidelity Burmester audio system is optional. My Apple phone paired quickly and automatically on subsequent occasions with no hiccups (in addition to Apple CarPlay, the system supports Android Auto). The EQB also uses USB-C ports, so you must use an adapter for USB-A devices.
The center touchpad is a familiar widget in many cars today. However, it's slowly being made obsolete by greater touchscreen functionality, even by German automakers, who have held off on touchscreens until recently. So, the touchpad is slightly redundant, but doesn't detract from any usability.
You can trigger the EQB's new-generation, Linux-based MBUX voice recognition either by the steering wheel "speak" button or by simply announcing "Hey, Mercedes," which prompts the system to wake up. The voice recognition uses programming with what Mercedes calls Natural Language Understanding and Keyword Activation, a slightly stiff way of describing better software.
Whatever you call it, it worked flawlessly. It found the remotest Starbucks and Chipotles my Arizona homeland has to offer. And changing my accent, enunciation, and volume didn't change the results much, though whispering did.
The MBUX system is intuitive to use, partly because it interfaces with remote servers to help with context and meaning. For example, if you declare, "Hey, Mercedes – I'm cold," the system will understand you want the climate controls to raise the cabin temperature. But MBUX will only do this if the car is in the range of cell service that communicates with more powerful, off-board brains. Brilliant, without a doubt. However, the effectiveness disappears if you're adventuring off the cellular grid.
Speed Limit Assist automatically adapts the vehicle's pace to identified speed limits in conjunction with the embedded navigation, though you can override that by simply applying more throttle (or braking). This system once engaged seemingly out of the blue and surprised me as I merged onto a highway. It had understood an on-ramp speed limit of 40 mph, but the navigation software that drives the system needed a bit more time or cadence to update that and understand I was merging onto a freeway where the speed limit was 65 mph (and traffic was flowing at 80). Of course, you can dive into the settings in the infotainment system to disable Speed Limit Assist.
The standard active driver safety features on the EQB 300 include blind-spot monitoring, active braking assistance, crosswind assistance, and safe exit assist, which alerts when a vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist is approaching from behind as you’re preparing to exit the SUV. And while all of these work well and offer safety benefits and conveniences, the bigger items like lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control are optional as part of the Driver Assistance Package. That’s eye-opening for a car stickering around $60,000. Those features should all be standard from the company that pioneered electronic anti-lock braking in 1978 and integrated airbags and seat belts in 1981.
At the time of this writing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hadn't tested the EQB models. However, NHTSA has tested the 2022 GLB on which the electric EQBs are based and gave the all-wheel-drive version an overall safety rating of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not rated the crashworthiness of the EQB or the GLB.
The EQB also comes with two years of complimentary charging through the Mercedes Me Charge network. Owners can find charging stations from various providers onboard the car's infotainment and navigation system or via a smartphone app, along with an integrated payment process.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB Review: The Drive
Powered by motors at both the front and rear axles generating 225 hp and 288 pound-feet of torque sent to all four wheels, the EQB 300 scoots off smartly from a dead stop, though the power doesn't build in the same ascending way much above about 40 mph as it does below 40. Mercedes' estimate of 7.0 seconds from zero to 60 mph isn't exactly earth-shattering on paper, but it does just fine in the real world, where traffic, road construction, and general prudence prevail. Some other pure electrics give a greater sense of acceleration, but that's not really the EQB's mission.
This level of power works perfectly well for the EQB's primary focus of commuting, family hauling, and shopping—all the ordinary duties of an everyday car. The bonus here is an extremely hushed cabin. With almost no wind noise at freeway speeds, minimal tire noise, and an inherently low noise floor, thanks to a lack of combustion going on up front, the EQB is nearly silent under all conditions.
Ride quality is also quite good, perhaps partly due to the extra 1,000 pounds over the combustion-engine GLB. All that mass is also low in the car's chassis, which helps mask some weight gain when cornering and braking hard. However, a keen driver will feel the weight.
It's not within the EQB 300's real purpose, but asking it to corner and brake aggressively exposes the SUV's portly 4,718-lb. curb weight; it does not want to change direction rapidly. For comparison, the EQB 300 outweighs the GLE 350, which is two size classifications larger. Even more shocking, it outweighs the biggest Mercedes sedan, the S 500 4Matic. If anyone told you electric cars would be lightweight, they were misinformed. At least for now.
Over a 73-mile mix of urban, suburban, and freeway driving, the EQB 300 returned a consumption rate of 33.6 kWh per 100 miles. It also started the 73-mile trip estimating 201 miles of range and finished with 146 estimated miles remaining—a net gain of 18 miles, so the car yielded better results than initially calculated. At the time of publication, the EPA website had no mileage or range estimates for the EQB, but according to Mercedes, the electric range is 243 miles.
There is a multi-mode regenerative braking system on board, but it does not offer the intelligent regen of the bigger, more expensive Mercedes EVs that provide the ability to bring the vehicle to a complete stop while maximizing energy recovery. Actual one-pedal driving, as on other Mercedes EQ electric models, would be a welcome feature, in this case.
Shift paddles on the steering wheel allow you to select your recuperation level. Pull the left paddle to increase regen, or pull the right paddle to reduce it. This has already become the industry's convention on recoup/regenerative levels, borrowing the execution from dual-clutch transmission shift paddles of sporty cars.
Is the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB a Good Electric Vehicle?
The Mercedes EQB 300 builds on the utility and practicality of the basic GLB platform on which it sits and adds a good, if not exactly exciting electric powertrain to the mix. Driving it proves to be a quiet, relaxing experience, and it is forward-thinking in convenience and user-friendliness thanks to a well-thought-out infotainment system. It also gives you a roomy-feeling interior with decent cargo space—a prime factor in SUV shopping.
However, the most advanced active safety gear is optional, and other small SUVs with more standard features cost less. Though its maximum driving range is good, it's not the best in class. If cost and range are of primary concern to you, other small electric SUVs might be more compelling. But if the cachet of a small Mercedes and a soothing respite on wheels mean more, the EQB 300 is a good fit.