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Test Drive column: 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

Greg Zyla
More Content Now USA TODAY NETWORK
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC

Entry price $38,050

Price as tested: $54,035

This week we’re driving the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz SUV GLB250, introduced in 2020 to compete in the popular small SUV class. Before you stop reading because you think Mercedes-Benz is out of your reach, this GLB is the manufacturer’s response for people who don’t consider a new Mercedes-Benz when shopping this crowded segment. In the case of this new SUV, you can actually park one in your driveway for less than $40K and enjoy the satisfaction of Mercedes-Benz ownership.

The 2021 GLB is identical to the 2020 model in both design and pricing. As you know Mercedes-Benz has always been one of the more expensive cars produced, something still true when shopping across the entire line. However, the GLB250 is not only affordable, it follows company marketing objectives to attract buyers of all ages, especially younger consumers. This establishes brand loyalty that hopefully leads to a lifelong Mercedes-Benz buyer commitment. To this day, continued encouragement that one can indeed afford a new or certified used Mercedes-Benz has proven beneficial. Additionally, this new GLB is a perfect vehicle for baby-boomers who have had a goal of Mercedes-Benz ownership.

Enough sales theory, let’s get back to this week’s test drive.

Classified as a small SUV by the EPA, the front drive GLB starts at $38,050, although our tester was the $40,250 all-wheel-drive (AWD) model. Featuring a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out 221 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque, it mates to an eight-speed automatic dual clutch transmission that hooks to the 4MATIC AWD mechanicals. It’s somewhat peppy as zero to 60 will arrive in about 7 seconds and owners will be glad to find that the GLB, even with AWD, will deliver 23 city and 30 highway EPA fuel mileage. It’s not a performance AMG Benz by any reach of the imagination, although an AMG 250 GLB trim is available for an additional $2,600 that adds exterior and interior appointments that don’t enhance performance in any manner.

However, if you insist on true AMG performance upgrade, new for 2021 is a real AMG GLB 35 model, producing 302 horsepower from the same 2.0-turbo engine. It starts at $49,500 and features more turbo boost, a special SPEEDSHIFT eight-speed dual clutch automatic and AMG Performance 4MATIC AWD system. Notable is the zero to 60 time, which improves to 5.1 seconds. Your dealer will explain all features and models when you call or visit.

However, we’re driving the 221-horse GLB and concentrating on why this model makes a great choice, overall. Most impressive is the quality of the ride for a smaller SUV, especially with AWD underpinnings. Handling is very good thanks to a fully independent sport suspension and traction hungry Dunlop tires. There are four different drive modes available via a Dynamic Select switch, including a special Off-Road Engineering Package that is standard on the GLB 250 4MATIC. It encompasses an additional drive program (Off-Road) that adapts the engine’s power delivery and the ABS control to better navigate off-road terrain.

Of note is the near $14,000 of options our tester featured, of which several I personally would not buy. These options include a panoramic sunroof for $1,500; black leather seating $1,450; special metallic paint $720; wood interior trim $325; 19-inch tires on 10-spoke alloys for $700; adjustable damping suspension for $990; SiriusXM is $460; MB Interior Assistant for $200; third row seats for $850; heated front seats are $500; interior ambient lighting in 64 colors for $310; USB adapter cable for $25; and all-season floor mats for $160. Clearly, many of these options are not necessary, which will reduce the price of our tester by many thousand.

There are also three option packages included on our GLB, two of which I do not recommend if trying to keep the price down.

For $1,700 more, I like the Driver Assistant Package that is worthy and adds more safety upgrades, Included are active brake assist with cross traffic, distance assist, lane keep assist steering, active lane change, speed limit notification, emergency stop, route based speed adapt, stop and go restart, and even evasive steering assist. It’s worth every penny.

Second is a multimedia upgrade for $1,295 that adds all of the navigation upgrades offered by Mercedes-Benz. Considering my smart phone can handle most all my direction needs, I’d pass on this one.

The last package option is an expensive $1,750 Premium package that features a 10.25-inch center display, 10.25-inch instrument digital cluster, keyless-go package, auto dimming rear view mirror, and power fold side mirrors. Again, I’d pass on this one, too. With $1,050 added for delivery, our GLB 250 AWD came in at a final $54,035 retail.

Notable, however, are the many standard features of this new GLB. Included are Apple and Android compatibility, Bluetooth, power driver seat with lumbar, split folding rear seats, rain sense windshield wipers, keyless start, fine stereo system, dual zone air conditioning, power liftgate, 115-volt outlet and a free trial of Mercedes Me Connect.

On the safety side, active brake assist, anti-lock 4-wheel discs, enhanced brake system, review camera, Mercedes-Benz emergency call assist, and blind spot assist are all standard fare.

The exterior of the GLB 250 is a classy, boxier style SUV consumers have been accustomed to the last few decades. It looks great and is very roomy inside for five passengers. Visibility is very good, and because of its smaller compact size parking is easy. Our tester came with the aforementioned third row seat, but there is room only for kids and pets at best

Important numbers include a 111.4-inch wheelbase, 3,759 lb. curb weight, from 22 cu. ft. to 62 cu. ft. of cargo space, 38.4-ft. turn circle, and a 15.9-gallon fuel tank.

Compared to the other smaller SUVs I’ve driven, this Mercedes-Benz GLB250, front or AWD, is one of my top choices in this category. It offers everything a consumer expects when they put down their money for a Mercedes-Benz, and then some. Check with your dealer for incentives on buying and/or leasing.

Likes: Roomy, ride quality, entry price

Dislikes: Transmission lever on steering column, third row too tight.

Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at greg@gregzyla.com or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB250 4MATIC