The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 luxury compact SUV is available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 luxury compact SUV is available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. (Manufacturer photo)

Mercedes-Benz expands its family with GLB 250 compact SUV

Boxy styling looks retro, but the technology is futuristic. There’s an AMG version in the lineup, too.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLB-class is a recent addition to the brand’s compact car family. Launched as a 2020 model, the GLB is an SUV whose boxy styling is evocative of the early SUVs, including the Mercedes ML-class, but is worlds apart technologically.

This is the first compact vehicle from Mercedes-Benz offering buyers the option of a third row. It’s an extra $850 and adds two retractable individual seats, bringing total capacity up to seven passengers.

There are three versions: the front-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz GLB 250, all-wheel-drive GLB 250 4Matic, and Mercedes-AMG GLB 35.

Pricing for the 2021 GLB 250 with front-wheel drive starts at $39,100 including a $1,050 destination charge. The GLB 250 4Matic is $41,100 and the GLB 35 is $50,550.

My test car was a 2021 GLB 250 4Matic, so this report will focus on that model.

The GLB 250 derives power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine producing 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Its transmission coworker is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. The 4Matic system has full-time all-wheel drive with a selectable off-road mode for when the going gets dicey. It’s included along with several other drive modes such as Eco, Comfort and Sport.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the GLB 250 4Matic are 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. That’s almost the same as for front-drive, except 1 mpg less for highway driving.

An optional Premium Package for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 upgrades the digital gauge display and infotainment touchscreen to 10.3 inches. (Manufacturer photo)

An optional Premium Package for the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 upgrades the digital gauge display and infotainment touchscreen to 10.3 inches. (Manufacturer photo)

Some features often included as standard equipment on luxury compact SUVs are optional items on the GLB 250. For example: driver assistance systems, SiriusXM radio, panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, head-up display, active LED headlamps and adaptive high beams. The optional package for driver assistance systems, however, includes everything in existence. And blind spot monitoring, not always standard on other cars in this league, is standard on the GLB 250, something new for 2021. I single out that bit of technology because blind spot monitoring can be a literal lifesaver when driving at night in the rain, especially on I-5, when rearward visibility can be subzero.

GLB 250’s interior exudes Mercedes trademarked quality and styling handsomeness. From a practical standpoint, it’s also roomy and quiet. Front seats are on the firm side but really comfortable. Rear seats take firmness to a whole new level. I sat on one for testing purposes and the seat bottom had as much give as granite. The test car didn’t have a third row, so I can’t speak for those seats. In any case they couldn’t possibly compete with the second row in terms of legroom.

Twenty-six hundred dollars in options on the test car were devoted to AMG styling features. Heated front seats accounted for $500, and $1,295 went toward an enhanced navigation package. A $1,750 Premium Package upgraded the digital gauge display and touchscreen from 7 inches to 10.3 inches.

The GLB 250 has the new Mercedes MBUX infotainment system with voice operation, activated by saying “Hey Mercedes.” It did a good job recognizing what I was saying (it helps that I’m naturally loud), and responded correctly, but was slow to actually complete the command. Switching between satellite radio stations via voice command took quite a lot more time than by using controls on the steering wheel or center console unit.

Ride and handling are commendable in this latest compact SUV from Mercedes-Benz. It was a great driving week.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 has seating for five passengers in standard two-row configuration. A third row with two extra seats is available as an option. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 has seating for five passengers in standard two-row configuration. A third row with two extra seats is available as an option. (Manufacturer photo)

2021 MERCEDES-BENZ GLB 250 4MATIC

Base price, including destination charge: $41,100

Price as driven: $49,725

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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