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Mercedes' cheapest electric car is more luxurious than a Tesla but with way less range

Tim Levin   

Mercedes' cheapest electric car is more luxurious than a Tesla but with way less range
  • The Mercedes-Benz EQB is the German brand's cheapest electric vehicle, starting at around $55,000.
  • It's more luxurious inside than a Tesla, but lacks range and some fun quirks of EVs.

In 2022, Tesla officially became the best-selling luxury brand in the US, and Mercedes-Benz is officially over it.

In an effort to claw back customers from Elon Musk, the German brand now offers Americans four electric vehicles in all shapes and sizes. That's up from zero just a couple of years ago.

The entry point into Benz's EV lineup is the compact EQB SUV. While it may not be the most exciting electric option on the market, it's comfy, quick, and shouldn't scare off anybody hesitant about leaving their gas car. Plus, it's way more luxurious than any Tesla.

The basics

The EQB slots in below the larger and more expensive EQE and EQS offerings. To make it, Mercedes took its gas-fueled GLB SUV, swapped in a battery pack, added some electric motors, and made some styling tweaks. Namely a shiny, closed-off grille, a snazzy light strip, and some blue badging. As everybody knows, electricity is blue.

What results is an e-SUV with almost no learning curve. It looks and feels like a regular SUV inside, and isn't so stuffed with screens that you have to relearn how to operate an automobile, which some buyers may appreciate.

It comes in two flavors: the 225-horsepower EQB 300 and the 288-horsepower EQB 350. It starts at $54,500, and the 2022 EQB 350 Mercedes lent me came out to $58,050, including optional heated seats.

What stands out: A luxurious interior and comfy ride

Teslas have a lot going for them, sure, but they aren't known for being particularly luxurious inside. They go the more techy, minimalist route.

If you desire nothing less than renowned German sturdiness and fanciness in your new EV, try the EQB instead. It's nice and quiet, with plush leather seats that don't leave you sore after a long drive. It's filled with elegant metallic accents and feels well put together. Rather than relying too much on touchscreen controls, Mercedes includes a plethora of satisfying switches.

Even if the EQB doesn't give the same open feeling as an uncluttered Tesla, it provides plenty of headroom and legroom for tall people.

On the road, the EQB is composed and smooth, offering the same brisk, exciting acceleration you get in practically any EV. Switch on sport mode, and the all-wheel-drive EQB flies forward with every stab of the throttle. In comfort and eco settings, things are more subdued. The little SUV's exceptional turning radius comes in handy in parking lots and around town.

What falls short: Range and packaging

Range is many buyers' key concern when buying an electric car. That's understandable, given the underwhelming state of charging infrastructure today.

Sporting an EPA-estimated range of 227 miles, the EQB 350 doesn't exactly alleviate that anxiety. The EQB 300 is slightly better, rated at 243 miles. But neither come close to the max ranges you can get in a Tesla Model Y, Mustang Mach-E, or Hyundai Ioniq 5, for example, which all offer at least 300 miles. The Model Y delivers 330 miles of driving range for $53,490.

Still, 200 or so miles may be plenty depending on how often you drive long distances and your daily routines.

Since it's based on a combustion-engine vehicle, the EQB also lacks some of the best parts of other EVs. Using a dedicated electric platform lets car companies break free of the boundaries set by an engine, transmission, and gas tank and have a little fun with things. That's why so many EVs have flat floors, more interior room, and extra cargo capacity.

The EQB, however, has a vestigial tunnel running through its cabin, no front trunk, and slightly less cargo space than the GLB thanks to its bulky battery.

Our impressions

The EQB's swanky cabin, pleasant ride quality, and quick acceleration make it appealing. But if range is your top priority, there are better options out there.

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