In driving the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 we found that even the brand’s entry-level crossover SUV brings the goodness and feel that even the most expensive models are known for.

The smallest and least expensive Mercedes-Benz does differ from the majority of its family in that it features front-wheel drive instead of the brand’s trademark front-engine rear drive format.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Here it makes 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and manages to be exceptionally refined, fitting of the three-pointed star.

The GLA 250 is available in both front-wheel drive as with our tester and 4MATIC all-wheel drive is an option. Power comes on strong and the 8-speed automatic transmission is a joy with its predictable and smooth shifts.

Fuel efficiency here is best with an EPA estimated 25 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. In our week we achieved about 27 mpg but we kept the aggressive and annoying engine auto-start-stop system turned off. Had we let it be, 28 mpg might have been a given.

Handling as expected was solid and precise. Not a rattle or vibration could be felt in the chassis or body structure which felt like it was carved from a solid piece of metal. The suspension is tuned medium firm and offers up confidence inspiring response. Road noise in minimal.

The one disappointment was the torque steer which rears its ugly head when mashing the throttle. It’s a given with front-wheel drive crossovers but coming from Mercedes-Benz, is really a let-down. Even Honda has managed engineer this out of their vehicles.

Sitting behind the wheel is an experience in quality and comfort. The cabin is lined with top quality materials in trims and switchgear. Our tester at $41,620 had the Premium Package which upgrades t he dash to the better dual 10.25 digital screen setup. We recommend this as it elevates the experience.

The dash is trimmed out with a handsome metal-look printed applique. Genuine aluminum and wood is an available option. Plenty of storage abounds in the center console and door pockets, and while they are not abundant as some, USB charging ports are provided front and rear.

Seating is MB-Tex which is vinyl that looks and feels a lot like leather but isnt. The chairs are very comfortable, power adjustable and feature memory settings for both the driver and passenger. Rear seat passengers will be pleasantly surprise at the room and comfort afforded them even in this compact crossover.

Given the options, our tester meets up close with the $399 lease special that brings buyers into the Mercedes-Benz showroom and as such impresses with its balance of quality and engineering along with just enough features to make it all feel right.