If you want an electric SUV, you had better be prepared to open your wallet. So far, the vast majority of great electric car models that have been released up until now have been crossover-sized — leaving those who want an electric SUV stuck with options like the $70,000+ Rivian R1S.
Or so I thought.
Over the past week, I’ve been driving the Mercedes-Benz EQB250+, a car that I thought was likely to be needlessly expensive because, you know, it’s a Mercedes-Benz. It turns out, however, it’s not so bad. In fact, at least as far as electric cars go, it could almost be considered affordable.
Let’s be very clear right off the bat. The EQB isn’t cheap — and if you’re looking for a car on a budget, it’s probably not the car you’ll buy. But when you compare it with some other electric SUVs, it’s on the low end of cost, at a base price of $52,750. That’s more than $20,000 cheaper than the Rivian R1S, and in a different world than the Tesla Model X, BMW iX, and Mercedes’ own EQS SUV, which can easily stretch to six-figure MSRPs.
To be sure, there are less expensive electric SUVs, but I don’t really consider the Hyundai Ioniq 5 or Kia EV6 as SUVs, despite how they’re marketed. The EQB250+ is bigger than both of those — and it even has an option for a third row of seats. The Toyota bZ4X is a little bigger too, and it’s also a fair bit cheaper than the EQB250+, at a starting price of $42,000. So is the Tesla Model Y, which I also hesitate to call a real SUV, but which also has an option for a third row of seats, and starts at $50,490, a few thousand dollars cheaper than the Mercedes.
There are likely to be more options in the near future that undercut the EQB250+ in price — like the upcoming Kia EV9. But until then, the fact is that a Mercedes-Benz is cheaper than many of the best-known electric SUVs out there.
So what do you get for that comparatively low price? A pretty luxurious driving experience, in fact. The Mercedes-Benz EQB offers many of the same features as the much more expensive EQS. You’ll get incredibly comfortable seats, with premium materials throughout, and a dual display at the front for infotainment and instrument monitoring.
It drives well too. It offers a quick acceleration like other electric cars, and handles very smoothly, largely due to the low-mounted battery.
Speaking of the battery, it’s perhaps the main downside of the car. The range on the EQB isn’t terrible — but at 245 miles, it lags behind much of the competition. Some buyers will be able to look past this range — after all, it isn’t terrible. But I want all electric cars to have a range of at least 300 miles, and the EQB falls short of that. Not only that, but the EQB doesn’t charge all that quickly either, at only 100kW. That means that it takes a little over 32 minutes to charge the car from 10% to 80%, which again, isn’t terrible, but is a little slow.
So, what if you want to buy an electric SUV and have around $50,000 or so to spend? Should you go for the EQB? Well, it kind of depends.
If what you’re looking for is a luxurious experience, then yes — I think the Mercedes-Benz EQB is the best electric SUV under around $55,000 or so. But if your concerns are more about buying and owning an electric car, then there are better options. For example, if you’re concerned about range and charging, then it’s probably worth considering the Model Y, or going for something smaller like the EV6, Ioniq 5, or Mustang Mach-E.
Again, however, it may also be waiting a little. A slew of new electric SUVs are set to launch in the near future — including the likes of the much larger, likely similarly-priced, Kia EV9. The EV9 is a true SUV, and it’ll offer a much faster charging speed, at 350kW. The EV9 is expected in the fourth quarter of 2023, so it should be available in the U.S. pretty soon.
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