Mercedes-Benz GLB front

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the GLB concept SUV this week in Shanghai, looking to fit another SUV into its lineup. The car company confirmed that the small crossover will be arriving in the U.S., but Mercedes did not say when.

More from the 2019 New York Auto Show

“We asked ourselves whether there is still space between the GLA and GLC in our successful SUV range,” Britta Seeger, a Mercedes executive, said in a company statement. “The Concept GLB is the answer to this question.”

SUVs are increasingly dominating the U.S. market—look no further than the crossover-heavy New York International Auto Show if you need convincing—and automakers are increasingly trying to get slices of this lucrative segment. Mercedes-Benz used New York to showcase a freshened full-sized GLS as its top-of-the-line S-Class SUV.

Here’s what we know so far.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLB

What it competes with: BMW X3, Audi Q5, Lincoln Corsair, Land Rover Range Rover Velar, Lexus NX 300

What it looks like: A more muscular, rugged-yet-luxurious Volkswagen Tiguan

Powertrains: Four-cylinder gas engine with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission

Expected price: TBD

On-sale date: TBD

Outside

In concept form, the GLB is a rugged-looking compact crossover. Mercedes has equipped it with outdoorsy elements such as top-mounted LED fog lights, a chrome underguard below the front bumper, and aggressive-looking 17-inch off-road tires.

The vehicle has a tall, wide grille, and black roof rails come with a built-in roof box for cargo. All-around cladding signals off-road capability, and the SUV comes with chrome running boards.

The GLB is 111 inches long, longer than the compact GLA and roomy enough to add a third row of seats, although it’s not clear whether Mercedes will stick to that configuration in the production version.

Mercedes-Benz GLB concept interior

Inside

The seats are made of chestnut-brown leather, and the dash and center console have walnut wood trim. The GLB also has orange trim and stitching, mood lighting strips, and milled aluminum door accents. A large interactive screen stretches from under the steering wheel halfway across the dashboard.

The backseats will be designed for flexibility. The second row is split and folds down, and can be configured to create a tablelike surface. It also can slide forward and back to improve legroom when needed. The third row is big enough to seat two “medium-sized” occupants, Mercedes says. The third row folds flat into the floor, a first for a Mercedes vehicle.

What Drives It

The GLB will come with a four-cylinder engine, paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission, Mercedes says. That’s enough for 224 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The SUV will come with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, with multiple driving modes.

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

Mercedes didn’t say much about which safety features would be included in the GLB. The 2019 GLA and GLC have standard automatic emergency braking. Forward collision warning and most other advanced crash avoidance features are optional. GLC buyers can add pedestrian detection, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, and blind spot warning. GLA buyers can add only the last two; we’ll see what the GLB rolls out with when it arrives.

CR’s Take

Smaller, car-based SUVs have been selling very well in the U.S., and it’s clear that all automakers, including those previously known for selling luxury sedans, have gotten the message. A lot of the growth in the growing SUV market has been on the small end.

The two Mercedes SUVs the GLB is slated to fit in between, the GLA and the GLC, haven’t done well enough in testing or with CR members to earn a recommendation. The GLA has had below-average customer satisfaction, while the GLC has suffered below-average reliability.

With this vehicle still in the concept stage, there’s still a lot we don’t know. We’ll take a closer look when the production model is available later this year.

Mercedes-Benz GLB concept rear