Science fiction fans divide stories into “hard sci-fi” and “soft sci-fi,” a blurred line that Lightspeed Magazine might try to determine, but we stick to cars. We bring it up only to suggest that electric vehicles might benefit from a similar subcategory. For die-hard sci-fi fans, the detail-hungry, the all-rounder, we have high-tech and trick machines like the Rivian R1S sedan, the Lucid Air and the Mercedes-Benz EQS. For those who are just jumping in, don’t want to learn a new language for the commute to work, there are “soft” EVs, and here we find the Mercedes-Benz EQB350, an electric SUV so traditional with the feeling that one might drive it for day and never noticed that there wasn’t a quiet gas power plant under the hood.
One of the reasons the EQB looks familiar is that it’s based on the GLB, Benz’s turbocharged four-cylinder small SUV. The EQB’s trim is a bit taller, with elongated LED headlights, blue-accented 19-inch wheels, and gloss black panels in place of the grille, but it shares the GLB’s rear and vertical profile. More importantly, at least to those unhappy with the all-screen future proposed by many EV designers, the EQB’s interior offers plenty of hard buttons to go with its central digital display and touchscreen.
The base EQB300 uses two motors that produce 225 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. We spent time in the high-powered EQB350, which boosted output to 288 horses and 384 pound-feet. Both come standard with all-wheel drive, 400-volt architecture, and a 66.5-kWh battery that can recharge from 10 percent to 80 percent in about half an hour at a DC fast-charging station. Mercedes says the 350 offers a range of 227 miles, while the 300 can go about 15 miles further.
This small SUV is unsurprisingly no rock star when it comes to acceleration. In our test, it hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, which is a reasonable result for this segment and 0.2 seconds ahead of the Audi Q4 e-tron. Put the accelerator down for a pass at highway speeds, and the EQB will rush from 50 to 70 mph in 3.6 seconds (versus the Q4’s 3.3 seconds). Unless you live with a notoriously difficult junction point, you won’t be disappointed with the EQB350’s performance levels.
Despite the EQB’s compact impression, the cabin is open, bright and comfortable. The EQB’s tall windows and standard panoramic glass roof let in plenty of light, so even with the mostly black vinyl interior in our Premium trim car, it was neither gloomy nor stuffy. Microfiber and leather are optional in all trim levels. Another advantage of the EQB’s boxy shape is rear passenger headroom. Long-legged adults can not only stretch their limbs, but they also won’t find their heads too cramped against the headlining, and the rear seats offer some reclining angle. It’s a much different story for the third row, which is an extra-cost option we won’t bother with unless you want to wear a seat belt in your grocery bag. It’s simply not roomy enough to transport people any distance. Without it, there’s plenty of cargo space, though the EQB loses a few cubic feet to the battery under the floor.
One way EVs can be nerve-wracking is the user interface for basic controls. Do you have to delve into the touch screen to find a turn signal? Or do magic tricks to select the front gear? Not in EQB. The quirks of the infotainment are small and familiar to any modern Mercedes owner: overly sensitive buttons on the steering wheel and a touchpad on the console that could be better used for storing small items. Additionally, we found the interior layout attractive and easy to use. It’s simple and uncomplicated, with just enough detail to be interesting without being overwhelming. Mercedes’ Voice Control is one of the best we’ve ever experienced, but don’t tell your passengers they can ask the car to make a joke, or you’ll spend the entire drive listening to a boring voice that goes something like this: “Two fish are in the tank. One says to another, ‘Do you know how to drive this thing?'” Funny, Mercedes, but we’d rather have wireless Apple CarPlay, not currently an option.
On the road, the EQB350 is what a small electric SUV should be: quiet and smooth. It doesn’t emit spaceship warble or wind tunnel roar—the only sounds are the slight squeal of tires and whatever music you’re playing through the stereo. It steers and brakes with minimal drama. In testing, it stopped from 70 mph in 178 feet (just a foot longer than the Audi competitor) and clung to the skidpad with 0.85 g of grip. One of the few obvious electric car features the EQB350 exhibits is the adjustable setting for its regenerative braking, controlled on the steering wheel paddles. Otherwise, you’ll probably only remember it eating electrons when the screen warns that it’s time to find a charging station.
2022 Mercedes-Benz EQB350 4Matic Premium
Vehicle Type: front and center motor, all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
Base/As Tested: $59,100/$60,380
Options: Mountain Gray Metallic Paint, $750; garage door opener, $280; charging cord, $250
Front Motor: AC asynchronous induction
Rear Motor: permanent magnet synchronous AC
Combined Power: 288 hp
Combined Torque: 384 lb-ft
Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 66.5 kWh
Onboard Charger: 9.6 kW
Peak DC Fast Charge Rate: 100 kW
Transmission, F/R: direct-drive/direct-drive
Suspension, F/R: strut/multi-link
Brakes, F/R: 13.0-in vented disc/12.6-in disc
Tires: Continental ProContact 6XSSR
235/50R-19 103T M+S Additional Load KPM
Wheelbase: 111.3 inches
Length: 184.4 in
Width: 72.2 inches
Height: 65.6 inches
Passenger Volume: 102 feet3
Cargo Volume, rear seats up/down: 22/62 feet3
Curb Weight: 4815 lb
C/D TEST RESULT
60 mph: 5.4 seconds
1/4-Mile: 14.3 seconds @ 93 mph
100 mph: 20.1 seconds
The above results leave a 1 foot launch for 0.3 seconds.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.2 seconds
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 seconds
Top Speed (gov ltd): 100 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 178 feet
Road grip, 300-foot Skid Pad: 0.85 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY AND CHASSIS
Observed: 84 MPGe
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 96/98/93 MPGe
Range: 227 mi
C/D TESTS EXPLAINED
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