It’s that odd time of the year where press loaners are changing over from one model year to the next. That tends to limit availability, plus our local auto press association does an annual rally this time of year making loaners even more scarce. So, I dug into the archives to review this Mercedes-Benz GLB, because looking back at my notes, it really surprised me. I don’t even get consistent loans from Mercedes, in fact this one came from the local dealer as a loaner while my wife’s car was in the shop getting warranty work done. My colleague Eric drove a 2020 and said it was “sweet spot” in the lineup. So decided to give it my usual treatment and see what’s what and whether this small three-row is worth a look.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 Overview
The compact GLB has only been on sale since the 2020 model year, as Mercedes continues to fill out the alphanumeric lineup by going up, and by going down in size. The GLB, naturally, slots in above the smaller GLA, and below the larger GLC. Funny how that works, though it’s not as cut-and-dry as it sounds. See, the GLB can be found with an optional third-row, whereas the other two don’t have that option. In fact, you have to jump up to the GLE or GLS to get a third row. The GLB rides on the same front-drive platform as the W177 A-Class and the H247 GLA, but Mercedes lengthened the wheelbase by about four inches to give it more interior space.
The GLB 250 comes in two trim levels, the base GLB 250 and the GLB 250 4Matic. Yeah, there is an AMG GLB 35 as well, but I decided it was outside the scope of this impromptu review that I’m just doing to highlight to the Mercedes rep that I still don’t get their cars on loan. As you can probably surmise, the 4Matic adds all-wheel-drive to the mix. Both trim levels are powered by the same turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder putting out 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque that is connected to an eight-speed automatic. Curb weight for the 4Matic version is a “really not bad for an SUV” 3,759 pounds.
The base GLB started around $38,000 for 2021, while the 4Matic version only bumped the price up to around $40,000. In case you were wondering, the AMG was (and is) closer to $50,000 when new. Even the base model is super well-equipped for the price. Look for standard interior stuff like:
- Simulated leather upholstery
- Power front seats with memory
- Slide/recline rear seats
- Dual-zone climate control
- Power liftgate
- Seven-inch touchscreen display with touchpad
- Digital gauge cluster display
- Push-start ignition
- Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration plus four USB-C ports
- 110v power outlet
On the exterior and safety fronts you’ll find:
- 18-inch wheels
- Heated side mirrors
- LED headlights
- Aluminum roof rails
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Blind-spot monitor
- Forward collision warning with automatic braking
So, the GLB gets you a lot of stuff for $40,000. Naturally, there are tons of add-ons available including the Driver Assistance Package (more driver aids), pano roof, sport suspension, and loads of additional comfort and convenience upgrades. Needless to say that options on this car can add a substantial five-digit number to the bottom line. This being a dealer loaner, I honestly have no clue what all was added.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic Inside & Out
The GLB has a boxy, almost wagon-like roofline, which is a great change from the attempt to make every crossover look “coupe-like”. Both the GLA and GLC have rear sloping rooflines that reduce headroom and cargo capacity (and that’s not even considering the actual “GLC Coupe”). Whereas the design of the GLB not only improves interior space, it also looks great in my opinion. The GLB is 182.4 inches long, which for comparison’s sake is five inches shorter than a similar year Acura RDX, three inches shorter than a Volvo XC60 and a BMW X3, but only about an inch shorter than a Lexus NX 250.
So, its pretty compact on the outside, let’s see what’s going on inside.
The GLB is part of Mercedes’ new widescreen dash layout, wherein the driver info screen and the main touchscreen look like one unit. Even though they actually aren’t, it still gives off a pretty cool high-end vibe. It’s flanked by some nice metallic-looking trim on the right and some very cool circular vents below. On the tech side, the touchpad is a nice replacement for the rotary dial in our 2018 GLS 450, but in reality I found myself using the touchscreen instead since it was more accurate.
As the GLB is also more narrow than those other luxury crossovers I mentioned, you get a relatively small center console and end up sitting a bit closer to each other up front than in some competitors. Still, for a compact SUV, it felt spacious enough up front to handle a nice long weekend excursion.
In the back, second row legroom is an impressive 36.9 inches, which isn’t quite as much as you’ll get in the two-row RDX and XC60 (both 38 inches) but there is still another row to come! As you can see in the top middle pic above, there is not much room on the third row for adult people, MB cites 29.1 inches, but it would be fine for kids. However, with the third row in place, see cool image-compare below, there isn’t much room for stuff.
The two-row GLB has 22 cubic-feet of space, MB didn’t specify for this one, but it’s clearly less. However, for those families who don’t need a third row, but might make use of it from time-to-time, the GLB is perfect. With the third-row stowed, there was plenty of room for our youngest to stow all of his hockey gear. Max cargo space is a generous 62 cubic feet, which means I could easily sleep in there on a camping trip.
Out on the road, the GLB 4Matic’s power-to-weight ratio means that it’s not exactly quick. The latest 2022 is listed at close to seven seconds to sixty. The 4Matic on this 2021 made easy work of some slippery conditions and felt nicely planted despite the weather. Those looking for more speed should check out the 302 horsepower AMG version, which is a shockingly good buy at under $50,000. Regardless, I came away massively impressed with the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB 250 4Matic. It’s boxy exterior makes the best possible use of it’s compact size, resulting in a vehicle that’s easy to navigate through tight streets, but can haul a surprising amount of people and gear.
To get a 2021 like this one, you’ll be looking at a Certified Pre-Owned GLB, and a quick cars.com search reveals that the cheapest CPO option is still over $36,000. So, prices for Certified GLBs haven’t dipped all that much from new, likely due to the crazy market plus the fact that many GLBs likely arrived equipped with pricey options.
Interestingly, prices for the 2022 models hasn’t really gone up all that much. You can still get a base model or 4Matic within around $600 of what the 2021 went for originally, and the AMG is still under $50,000 which is a lot of SUV for the cash. Regardless, the GLB that the dealership lent us left such an impression I went back to review it, just because. It’s really good.