Mercedes hasn't joined the modern SUV movement, it has thrown itself at it with a total of eight cars in the US market, and the Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is one of the latest to join the ever-expanding family. This subcompact luxury crossover SUV brings a lot to the table, especially in terms of practicality and style. Under the hood, its 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 221 horsepower and is powerful enough for most daily driving situations. The interior is a typically stunning affair from Mercedes-Benz, and the driving experience is relaxed rather than sporty. Priced from $38,050, the GLB competes with cars such as the BMW X1, despite delivering a more practical three-row seating layout to make it more of a miniature GLS than a larger GLA-Class.
2021 sees only small changes being made to this subcompact Merc SUV after its debut for 2020. The interior and exterior remain untouched, but safety is increased with standard blind-spot monitoring making its way onto the features list. The AMG-powered GLB35 joins the ranks, too, but is reviewed separately.
Slotting in between the GLA and GLC gives the GLB its distinctive style that slots in with the rest of Mercedes-Benz's expressive range of SUV offerings. With relatively short overhangs, tall stature, and minimalist design, the GLB looks good from most angles; just ignore the rear. Standard features include aluminum roof rails, 18-inch alloy wheels, and full LED lighting. Optional exterior features include a panoramic sunroof, AMG body styling, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLB-Class is a five-door luxury subcompact crossover SUV that shares similar dimensions with rivals such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Audi Q3. Its overall length is 182.4 inches, and it is 65.3 inches tall. With the side mirrors included, the GLB-Class measures 79.5 inches wide including mirrors, while the body itself is 72.2 inches wide. The car rolls on an 111.4-inch wheelbase. The front-wheel-drive variant weighs in at 3,638 lbs while the AWD model tips the scales at 3,759 pounds.
Mercedes offers the GLB SUV in your choice of ten colors, with Polar White and Night Black being the only no-cost options. The rest of the palette will cost you $720 and includes metallic options such as Digital White, Cosmos Black, Iridium Silver, Mountain Grey, Denim Blue, Galaxy Blue, Rose Gold, and Patagonia Red. Seeing as this is a Mercedes-Benz, there is no real option other than silver, but if you're feeling eccentric, Rose Gold is an exciting choice that should stand out from the crowd.
Mercedes-Benz didn't design the GLB to thrill the driver or deliver mind-blowing acceleration times, but instead to coddle its occupants and offer enough go to comfortably sit with traffic on the highway or climb mild inclines out in the wild. Behind the three-pointed star on the grille hides a turbocharged four-pot that produces a decent 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to your choice of front or all four wheels via a dual-clutch transmission. According to Mercedes-Benz, the GLB will complete the 0 to 60 sprint in 6.9 seconds regardless of drivetrain, which isn't that bad for a crossover but independent testing has revealed a time closer to six seconds, making it as quick as the 2.0-liter turbocharged BMW X1 SUV. Acceleration times and top speed do not differ between FWD and AWD cars. It's clear that the GLB isn't a straight-line monster but isn't a slouch either, and that balance makes it a pleasure to drive daily. Of course there's something hotter for those who want more performance, but the AMG GLB35 is reviewed separately.
Manufacturers have moved away from large capacity naturally-aspirated engines to power family SUVs. With the assistance of a turbocharger, much smaller engines can produce the same amount of power, increase the torque band, and generally weigh less. Mercedes-Benz has adopted this technique in the GLB. Under the hood of this subcompact crossover, you'll find a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder engine producing 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The important figure here is the torque output, which is available from only 1,800 rpm. This makes the GLB feel plucky in almost any gear, but there's an issue, however. At low speeds and from pull off, the GLB can feel sluggish, this could be due to slight turbo lag and transmission delay, but the end result is a slight hesitation that doesn't inspire confidence. In town, there's enough pluck to scoot through traffic, and at speed, the GLB is a confident cruiser. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is crisp and intuitive and always has the right gear on standby.
Mercedes-Benz has gone with what it does best: the GLB-Class offers a fair amount of power to get it through traffic and power it down the highway, with a significant focus on comfort. Where rivals such as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 attempt to mimic the driving dynamics of much smaller and agile cars, the GLB accepts the fact that it is an SUV, and it's much better off for it. That isn't to say that it's a wallowing boat on the road; in fact, it feels very composed, but its suspension is sprung for a relaxed driving experience instead of a canyon carving session. As is the norm in this class, the steering is light and almost devoid of feel, but it is precise and helps to place the front end with reasonable accuracy. At low speeds, the GLB feels composed and quickly soaks up bumps, and at speed, the ride feels seamless. Thanks to the GLB's excellent build quality, sitting inside the cabin while cruising at highway speeds is a relaxing and noise-free experience. It's not as fun to drive as its rivals, but comfort takes precedence in this class. For an even better driving experience, Mercedes-Benz offers an optional adaptive damping system, which enables the GLB to feel slightly more sporty when the need arises.
When Mercedes designed the GLB, fuel consumption was an important factor to consider. Family SUVs are seeing better and better fuel economy figures as engine technology improves. Thankfully the GLB offers competitive fuel economy figures that stand up to the best in class. The EPA rates that the FWD GLB will manage a best of 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined, while the AWD derivative sees a slight drop to 23/30/26 mpg. The BMW X1, on the other hand, will manage a slightly better 24/33/27 mpg in FWD guise. Top off the 15.9-gallon tank with a helping of premium gas, and the GLB should reach a maximum distance of 413 miles.
If there's one thing that Mercedes-Benz excels at, it is designing and building excellent interiors. The look and feel of the GLB's interior stand above that of BMW and Audi and feels more emotive in general. An impressive characteristic of the GLB's interior is the sheer amount of space on offer, and five average-sized adults will have no difficulty in finding a comfortable seating position. The build quality is also top-notch, and we didn't encounter any irritating squeaks or rattles while on the road. The interior of the GLB features a few easy-to-reach controls, as well as a top-mounted infotainment display, and your typical nice-to-haves such as power-adjustable front seats and automatic climate control, but Mercedes-Benz has left the majority of the good stuff on the options list.
The GLB seats up to five adults in standard form, but an optional third-row provides even more seating space for up to seven. This subcompact SUV impresses with its spacious cabin, and getting in and out is a hassle-free task. Once inside, the GLB offers more than enough space in the front for six-footers, and the second row also provides more than enough space with up to 38.1 inches of legroom. The optional third-row seating might add some practicality, but space is remarkably limited, both in terms of leg and headroom at 34.8 and 29.1 inches apiece, and gaining access to the rear can also prove difficult for adults. Those in the front have a commanding view of the road ahead, and visibility is good all round. Occupants in the front also get to enjoy 12-way power-adjustable seats with power lumbar support.
The stunning interior of the GLB-Class is adorned in a range of quality materials that give the car a tangible feeling of class and luxury. In standard form, new owners can expect to find the seats upholstered in MB-Tex material in your choice of Black or Macchiato Beige. Going for the Neva Grey and Black, or Black with red stitching requires that the AMG Line package be added. Leather options include classic black, which requires one to include the heated seat package, Bahia Brown, classic Red and Black, and Titanium Grey and Black. Going for leather seats will cost you $1,450 for the leather alone, plus a further $500 for heated front seats and a further $2,600 for the AMG Line prerequisite. Interior trims on offer include Spiral Look, Natural Grain Black Linden wood for $325, Walnut wood, and Carbon Structure, which requires the optional AMG Line package.
The GLB might be classified as a luxury subcompact crossover, but it still manages to impress with a large trunk and adequate overall cargo space. Access to the trunk area is controlled by a power liftgate. Once open, the trunk offers a broad and deep loading space, and in total, there are 27 cubic feet of space to occupy beyond the second row in five-seat configuration. With the optional third-row in place, cargo space is limited to just 5.1 cubes, opening up to 24 cubes behind the second row. A pass-through between the second-row seats means longer objects can be slid through. When more space is required, the 40/20/40-split folding 2nd-row seats the overall cargo space grows to a useful 62 cubic feet in five seat configuration, or 56.7 cubic feet in seven-seater spec. The BMW X1 on the other hand offers a total of 58.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
Small items will easily find a home inside the cabin of the GLB, thanks to an array of storage bins and nooks. The glovebox and center storage bin are big enough for a few phones and other personal stuff, and there's a set of hidden cupholders up front. All four doors get shallow door pockets, and in the rear, the fold-out center armrest also boasts two cupholders.
The interior of the GLB might seem plush at first, but in reality, there aren't too many features as standard, and Mercedes-Benz hopes that new owners will splash on optional extras to drive up the asking price. Standard features include 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment covered in MB-Tex material, with leather being an optional extra. Dual-zone automatic climate control keeps things temperate, and remote start via the Mercedes Me mobile app makes access a breeze. A power liftgate adds to the practicality of this SUV, as does the illuminated entry system and 115V power outlet. A seven-inch digital instrument cluster displays all vital info and can be upgraded to a 10.25-inch display. Optional extras include 64-color ambient lighting, third-row seats, and heated and ventilated sport front seats. Standard driver assistance features include blind-spot assist, exit warning assist, and crosswind assist. Still, to get your hands on safety tech such as adaptive high beam assist, active steering assist, and lane keep assist, one has to pay extra.
There's nothing much to write home about here. Mercedes-Benz's MBUX infotainment suite is straightforward to operate thanks to a seven-inch touchscreen display and touchpad interface. Despite the small size of the touchscreen, this system still features voice control, four USB-C ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth streaming, and HD Radio. Mercedes-Benz offers a host of optional upgrades, including a 10.25-inch display, navigation with augmented video, in-car Wi-Fi, SiriusXM radio, and TuneIn Radio. For those with a serious love for music, Merc offers a 12-speaker Burmester sound system with a 590-watt nine-channel digital amplifier that is perfect for blasting Unconscious Melody by the Preoccupations.
The GLB-Class was a new entrant for 2020 and since then has been the victim of four recalls. The first was issued in May 2020 for a water intrusion in the front wheel wells. Additional recalls were issued for a rear spoiler that could become detached, a second-row seat that may not lock, and a window airbag that might not be mounted correctly. Thus far, the 2021 model is clear of recalls. However, J.D. Power's review of the Mercedes-Benz GLB returned only middling scores of 69 out of 100 for quality and reliability. Mercedes-Benz covers the GLB with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, including corrosion and drivetrain cover for the same amount of time/distance traveled.
Due to it being such a new model, or perhaps because Mercedes-Benz hasn't submitted it for testing, the GLB remains unrated and has yet to receive either an NHTSA or IIHS review. Being a Mercedes-Benz, it's almost guaranteed that this car will keep you safe in the case of a serious accident, and with standard driver assistance tech and a long list of optional safety tech, the GLB-Class SUV should have your back 24/7.
It might not be tested by any significant safety rating agencies, but with a full complement of standard safety features, the GLB-Class should prove to be as safe as any of Mercedes-Benz's other offerings. The GLB-Class comes with standard active brake assist, attention assist, blind-spot assist, rear exit warning assist, crosswind assist, a rearview camera, seven airbags including a driver knee bag, and rain-sensing window wipers. The list of optional safety gear is extensive, and includes active steering assist, active lane-keeping assist, active lane change assist, a surround-view system, and active emergency stop assist. Second-row side impact airbags are also available for an additional $700.
As a relative newcomer to the subcompact luxury SUV market, the GLB has had to put up with some serious competition from its German rivals, as well as competent fighters from across the globe, but the good news is that Mercedes-Benz has delivered a product that is worth looking at. This car's exterior is more SUV-like than its GLA-Class sibling and is a handsome thing to look at. Under the hood of the GLB lives a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that pumps out enough power to get this SUV going at an impressive rate, and while it might not be as fast as its rival from BMW, out in the real world, it feels just as rapid. Whereas cars such as the BMW X1 feel more sporting on the road, the GLB pleases with a comfortable ride. Inside, the GLB offers one of the most beautifully-crafted interior spaces, and while the standard feature list isn't the longest, you still get all the basics needed to make for a premium experience. Competitively priced and good looking, the GLB should be high on the list for anyone shopping in this category.
Mercedes-Benz has priced the GLB rather aggressively. As a new model, this makes sense, but the GLB has had to sacrifice some features to keep prices down. Still, it is surprisingly affordable for a luxury SUV wearing the three-pointed star on the grille. The FWD GLB 250 goes for an MSRP of $38,050, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $995. The price of the Mercedes GLB increases to $40,050 for the AWD version. Fully-kitted, the GLB will set you back just over $60k.
There are two GLB models on offer for 2021: the GLB 250 and the GLB 250 4MATIC.
These trims are identical in every way, except for the AWD system on the GLB 250 4MATIC. In either spec, both are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine producing 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front or all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Standard features include LED headlights, a power liftgate, dual-zone climate control, and 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way lumbar control. The seven-inch touchscreen infotainment display grants access to Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth streaming. Safety features include blind-spot assistance and driver attention assistance. Optional extras for 2021 include a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated front seats, a Burmester sound system, lane-keep assist, cross-traffic assist, and adaptive high beam assist, among others.
Mercedes-Benz will let you stuff the GLB-Class to the brim with optional extras. The exterior can be bedazzled with the $2,600 AMG Line appearance package, which adds features such as 19-inch AMG five-spoke wheels, and AMG body styling kit, and a chrome diamond-block grille. Individual features such as a panorama roof, illuminated star badge, and carbon fiber mirror caps are also on offer. On the inside, the GLB is offered with the $1,700 Premium Package, which adds a 10.25-inch instrument and infotainment screens, power-folding side mirrors, hands-free access, and keyless-go for $1,750. The Multimedia Package adds navigation, augmented video, and speed limit assist. The $1,700 Driver Assistance Package is a must-have, adding tech such as active steering assist, brake assist with cross-traffic function, and lane keep and lane change assist. Other standalone items worth including are the $850 Burmester sound system and the $200 wireless charging pad.
This car is first and foremost a luxury vehicle that aims to transport its occupants in a refined and relaxed manner. The fact that it's an SUV doesn't necessarily mean that it can go off-road, and even if owners decide to take on dirt roads, they won't be able to take on any serious trails. For this reason, we would suggest going with the FWD car. In this configuration, the GLB-Class also uses slightly less fuel, weighs less, and costs less. We would suggest opting for the $1,750 Premium Package, and the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package, for a total cost of $42,795.
The BMW X3 is possibly one of the best compact luxury SUVs on the market right now and stands at the opposite end of the GLB-Class which is technically classified in a smaller class. Under the hood of the 2021 BMW X3 lies a 248-hp 2.0-liter turbo four-pot or turbocharged six-cylinder that develops 382 hp and 365 lb-ft. In either configuration, the BMW is quicker than the GLB-Class, but the more powerful six-cylinder will guzzle down fuel at a more rapid rate. On the road, the Mercedes and BMW are two completely different beasts; the BMW is stiffer but sharper in the corners and is the more dynamic car to pilot, but some may prefer the comfort of the GLB. The BMW X3 offers excellent cargo space, making it slightly more practical, but the GLB has a better interior, and the option of a third row of seats. The GLB-Class undercuts the BMW X3 by around $5,000, making it the winner in our books.
The GLC has been around longer and sits one rung above the GLB in Mercedes-Benz's SUV roster. Classified as a compact luxury crossover SUV, the GLC takes on a sleeker exterior design, making the GLB look more Gelandewagen than modern crossover. Under the hood, the GLC also gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, producing a more muscular 255 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The GLC sends its power to the rear or all fours via a nine-speed automatic transmission. The GLC is also a comfortable thing to drive and is arguably the more dynamically talented of the two. Inside, the GLC offers the same stylish design and adds a few luxury features such as standard heated front seats. The GLB, however, offers more cargo space. Starting at $43,200, the GLC is a more stylish and more powerful option that should appeal to the slightly vain, but you pay for the privilege.