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In the small luxury SUV segment, many buyers cross-shop the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLB SUVs. They are very similar, with similar prices under $40,000, similar power, and more. They both coddle you with luxury appointments inside, and the latest tech, too. But, the BMW X1 has one critical advantage over the GLB.

The BMW X1 has all-wheel drive standard

The best subcompact luxury SUV is the 2023 BMW X1
A 2023 BMW X1 | BMW

While the BMW X1 and the Mercedes-Benz GLB are similar, the X1 comes standard with all-wheel drive. In BMW speak, that means that its called the BMW X1 xDrive28i. xDrive means all-wheel drive, and not every BMW SUV comes with it. The X1 starts at $38,600.

The GLB 250 comes standard as a front-wheel drive SUV. While it starts at a similar $39,800, to step up to Mercedes’ all-wheel drive system, called 4MATIC, you pay a premium. With AWD, expect to pay $41,800. All-wheel drive in both of these SUVs makes a lot of sense for rainy and snowy weather, but neither of these SUVs were designed for the Rubicon trail.

The BMW X1 is the cheapest BMW SUV you can buy

The BMW X1 iDrive28i is the cheapest BMW SUV you can buy. For 2023, the X1 got a major redesign and gained a couple of inches in length and width. That extra size also gave it more planted handling. However, BMW did add a giant love-it-or-hate-it kidney bean grille, to make sure everyone knows you’re rocking a Bimmer.

That update also gave the interior a new look and a new feel. It has two screens, one in the gauge cluster and a larger one in the center. Inside it now has the easier-to-use iDrive8 infotainment system with navigation. Also, all X1s get dual-zone climate control and a power liftgate. A $1,950 package that includes heated seats and a steering wheel is also an option, as is a premium tech package for $4,200 that adds a 360-degree camera, a heads-up display and more. In that package, you also get a self-parking feature, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control.

Do all Mercedes GLB SUVs have seven seats?

The least satisfying luxury SUVs of 2023 include this 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLB
A 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLB | Mercedes-Benz
Related What Is the Cheapest BMW SUV You Can Buy?

What Is the Cheapest BMW SUV You Can Buy?

The GLB does offer one thing that the BMW doesn’t, and that’s a third row of seating. The optional back row is an $850 option and does set this small SUV apart and adds two tiny seats for use in a pinch.

The Mercedes GLB packs in a lot of the luxury features that buyers want. It is Mercedes’ second-smallest SUV, and it’s noticeably but not appreciably smaller than the GLC, but has more room than the GLA. It still has the good looks of Mercedes’ other SUVs, especially inside, and is highly rated. The cabin of the 2023 GLB 250 has five turbine-like vents, a cool gray aluminum dash with carbon-like trim, and one giant screen that spans from the driver’s cluster to the center stack. For 2023, Autoblog is reporting that it will get a facelift.

The 2023 GLB 250 starts at $39,800 in a two-wheel drive version. For about $3,000 more you can add Mercedes’ all-wheel drive to it, and that’s the only trim option. It has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 221 horsepower, and that’s tied to a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. While it’s not quick or sporty, this SUV leans more towards coddling passengers in lots of leather, stylish trim, with lots of new MB tech.