New Car Review
2017 Mercedes-Benz B250e: New Car Review
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz B250e should be at the forefront of electric vehicles -- it has a battery pack and drivetrain from Tesla. But technology doesn't just move on, it races ahead at breathtaking speed, leaving the B250e as a reminder of where electric vehicles used to be instead of where they are now.
This car is really Mercedes-Benz dipping its corporate toe into the EV waters, using a vehicle whose architecture is perfectly suited to an electric drivetrain. This is essentially a tall-riding compact hatchback. One reason for the tallness is its thick floor. In an example of ingenious packaging, this is where the lithium-ion battery pack goes.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz B250e is the only B-Class available in the United States. And it's not on sale throughout the nation. Like a lot of electric vehicles (EV), this one can be obtained where there are some incentives -- financial, ecological and practical -- such as California, Oregon and in the northeast. Some states offer tax credits along with charging stations in public parking spaces. There's also a federal tax credit of $7,500 to offset the purchase price.
What's New for 2017?
A Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G LTE is now available, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Interior choices now include Electric Blue, and exterior choices now include Lunar Blue metallic. Multi-color ambient cabin lighting becomes an individual extra. Options bundles have also been re-structured.
What We Like
Quiet cabin; responsive handling; swift acceleration; versatile hatchback body style; upscale character
What We Don't
Anonymous styling; high price, although it has dropped by $1,550 from 2016's MSRP
The B250e is propelled by an electric motor rated at 177 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque going to the front wheels.
The Environmental Protection Agency puts the range at 87 miles from a full charge. For reference, the Nissan Leaf is rated at 84 miles. However, this is quite a heavy vehicle (nearly 4,000 pounds) and is somewhat less efficient in its energy use, hence a combined rating of 84 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). To complete the picture, the B250e's energy consumption is estimated at 85 MPGe in the city and 82 MPGe on the highway.
Using a 240-volt charging station, the charging process should take about 3.5 hours. On standard household current, that time is closer to 30 hours. It's therefore advisable to have a fast charger installed at home.
Standard Features & Options
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz B-Class comes in one version: the B250e ($40,825).
Standard equipment includes 17-in alloy wheels, LED running lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, EV-specific smartphone app with remote functions (My Mercedes Electric Vehicle Homepage), 4.5-in color driver information display, MB-Tex synthetic leather upholstery, 14-way power front seats with driver's-side memory settings, split/folding rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, infotainment system with 7-in central display and console-mounted control knob, voice-controlled navigation system, Bluetooth and an 8-speaker audio system with a USB port and HD radio.
The Premium 1 package uses radar to assess the amount of traffic and then adjust the amount of regenerative braking, plus keyless entry/start and satellite radio.
The Premium 2 package brings an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system, automatic garage door opener, self-dimming mirrors and bi-xenon headlights.
The Premium 3 package includes an upgraded navigation system, rearview camera, and smartphone app integration.
The new Electric Blue interior bundle has contrasting stitching in, you guessed it: blue.
Other options include blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, self-parking system, button-activated range-extender feature, which provides a claimed 15 extra miles of range if used sparingly, heated front seats, extended MB-Tex trim with exposed stitching, leather upholstery, wood trim, ambient cabin lighting and music storage.
Rear seat space is adequate, although this is a compact hatchback, so it's not exactly roomy. Cargo capacity measures 17.7 cu ft behind the rear seats, which isn't all that impressive, but it expands to a healthy 51.4 cu ft with those seats folded flat.
Standard safety kit includes adaptive anti-lock disc brakes (including radar-based collision monitoring and mitigation), traction and stability control, driver drowsiness monitor and seven airbags (front, front side, driver's knee and full-length side curtain). Options include blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera.
Behind the Wheel
The B-Class has humble roots. This is one of the company's entry-level vehicles in Europe, and it shows in the relatively modest quality of the plastics and other surfaces when compared with other Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Put it up against something like the Nissan Leaf, though, and the B250e looks far more impressive. Long-time Mercedes-Benz drivers might be somewhat disappointed, but the B-Class delivers a more premium ambience than most rivals.
The ride is firm, but it feels familiar; German vehicles tend to be a little tauter than global counterparts. The cabin remains remarkably quiet at all speeds. Acceleration from the electric motor is immediate and enthusiastic, and the car can hit 60 mph from a standstill in 7.9 seconds. The steering wheel feels light in the driver's hands and responds quickly to inputs, lending a sporty feel to common maneuvers. Handling limits are ultimately quite low (with the front end going safely and predictably wide if pushed), but there's enough athleticism to provide some entertainingly brisk driving. The B250e might even be called fun.
Other Cars to Consider
2017 BMW i3 -- The aesthetic opposite of the conservative B-Class, with radical construction and materials, and even more entertaining driving manners. A bigger battery option has a range of 114 miles.
2017 Chevrolet Bolt -- Not exactly a premium car, but still an all-electric compact hatchback with a slightly raised driving position. Its range of 238 miles is the big selling point.
2017 Ford Focus Electric -- Another compact EV hatchback, but more mainstream than premium.
2017 Kia Soul EV -- Enjoys a relatively high-quality interior with a dashboard inspired by Apple devices, and it's as versatile as the B250e, although not as quick.
2017 Volkswagen e-Golf -- Affordable German engineering with understated style. Practical, classy and updated this year with an increase in range to 124 miles.
Used Toyota RAV4 EV -- Don't underestimate the electrified RAV4. It has serious acceleration and a cavernous cargo hold.
For those who can afford it, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz B250e is an exceptionally pleasant EV. But technology never stands still, while the B250e's limited range stays the same.