|Price( Excludes taxes & fees )||$395|
|Lease Term (months)||36|
|Miles per year|
With its diminutive size and nimble demeanor, the GLA-class feels more like a hatchback than many of its crossover competitors. As the smallest and cheapest of Mercedes-Benz’s SUVs, its interior is neither as luxurious nor as spacious as you might expect for a vehicle with the prestigious three-pointed-star badge. Plenty of high-end technology features are on offer, but the GLA has gone a while without updates. That means it’s less appealing than the newer A-class sedan, which boasts a more attractive design inside and out. A new, fully modernized version of the GLA-class should arrive sometime within the next year.
We think that the 2020 model year will be the last for the current-generation GLA before a new model arrives for 2021. As such, Mercedes-Benz did not make any changes for the 2020 model year.
The base GLA250 comes with front-wheel drive, while the 4Matic comes with all-wheel drive. Among its many option packages, we’d choose the $1900 Premium package, the $350 Smartphone Integration package, and the $1650 leather upholstery to make the interior feel a bit more plush.
The GLA250’s turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine makes 208 horsepower and mates to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive (4Matic) is optional. While that doesn’t sound like meaningful muscle, the powertrain does a remarkable job of pulling the GLA250 around so long as you keep up the revs. During light-footed, around-town driving, the GLA feels sluggish. At our test track, our all-wheel-drive test vehicle managed a quick 5.8-second blast from zero to 60 mph thanks to its launch-control feature—a rarity in this segment of SUV wannabes. For comparison, the X1’s quickest time was recorded as 6.3 seconds.
Due to the GLA250’s raised ride height, there is body roll when cornering, but otherwise the handling is sharp and athletic. The chassis is competent and lively during spirited driving, but when pushed to its limit, the GLA250 is quick to remind you that you’re not behind the wheel of a sports car. The effects of the firm suspension are a rough ride over uneven roads and the odd choppy highway ride. The steering is light but precise; however, extra heft in the wheel would be appreciated. Around town, the light steering aids maneuverability, so the compromise is acceptable.
The GLA compares very favorably with the competition in fuel economy. It’s important to note that the GLA250’s turbocharged engine requires premium gasoline, but so, too, do the X1, the Infiniti QX30, and the NX. Over our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, the GLA250 4Matic managed an impressive 34 mpg, outpacing the aforementioned rivals including the hybrid version of the NX.
Overall, the GLA250’s design is stylish and sophisticated, although some of the material finishes are less refined than what we’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz. Panel fit and finish doesn’t match the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup, either. The manual tilting-and-telescoping column makes it easy for the driver to find a comfortable position, but power-adjustable controls would be nice at this price point. The GLA250’s cabin is on the small side. The front row is roomy enough for two adults, but the back seat is cramped to the point that rear head- and legroom are the worst in the class. For those with small children, this may not pose a problem, but if you’re expecting to take the GLA250 on a long trip with four adults, it will be a tight squeeze.
The GLA250’s rear cargo area is one of the smallest in the segment. If carting bulky items is part of your daily routine, be sure to do a test run to ensure your items will stow. We fit five carry-on cases behind the rear seats and 16 in total with the seats folded flat, but the X1 managed to fit seven behind its rear seats and the Volvo XC40 swallowed an impressive 23 carry-ons with its seats folded.
An 8.0-inch infotainment screen is standard and perches atop the GLA250’s dashboard. Navigation is optional, as is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, and onboard Wi-Fi. A small rotary knob on the center console controls the infotainment system, but there are still a few menus that can cause frustration. One example is that you must unplug your Apple CarPlay– or Android Auto–enabled phone to access the built-in navigation. Connecting with Bluetooth is easy, and audio quality for both phone calls and streaming music is very good.
No crash-test results are available for the GLA-class from U.S. agencies, but Mercedes-Benz does offer a comprehensive list of standard safety gear. Driver-assistance technologies are available, but mainly as pricey options that drive up the bottom line. Key safety features include:
The GLA250 features a four-year or 50,000-mile limited warranty with trip-interruption protection and roadside assistance. Both BMW and Lexus offer the same coverage, but Lexus adds a six-year or 70,000-mile powertrain warranty to the mix. No manufacturer in the class tops BMW’s three-years or 36,000-miles complimentary scheduled maintenance coverage.
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