The GLA is the littlest and cheapest crossover in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. It was introduced in 2013 as the first compact SUV for Mercedes-Benz and proved to be a good seller for the German automaker. The GLA gets refreshed for the 2018 model year and should arrive at U.S. dealerships this summer.
It’s available in three trims: GLA250, GLA250 4Matic and AMG GLZ45. Starting prices for 2018 haven’t been released yet but are expected to be similar to 2017 models which ranged from $32,850 to $49,900. It seats five passengers.
Exterior tweaks for 2018 include a new grille, redesigned bumpers and rear spoiler, more aerodynamic styling and available LED headlights. The inside looks more elegant with new gauges and chrome trim; an eight-inch infotainment system is now standard, and a new 360-degree camera system with surround and top-down views is available.
The engines are the same for 2018. The GLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Front-wheel drive is standard, and 4MATIC all-wheel drive is optional. The AMG GLA45 gets a more powerful engine that makes 375 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, with standard AWD.
The GLA250 4Matic drives more like a sporty sedan than a compact crossover and there’s more than enough power for city driving and freeway cruising. Even the base engine is quick and responsive, and steering is tight. Put it into Sport mode for zippier performance. However, the transmission can sometimes struggle to find the right gear. The ride is fairly firm so you will notice bumps and rough roads.
One thing that always takes me a while to get used to when driving a Mercedes is the location of the shifter. It’s on the left side of the steering wheel, where windshield wiper controls are found on most other vehicles.
EPA mileage estimates for the 2018 models haven’t been released yet but are expected to be similar to 2017 when the GLA250 4Matic was rated at 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 26 mpg. I got 25 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is pleasant with many stylish touches; however, it is an entry-level Mercedes-Benz so cabin materials are not as nice as in the more expensive models. Passengers in the front and back rows enjoy decent headroom, but backseat passengers have limited legroom as you’d expect in a compact crossover.
The eight-inch infotainment system and COMAND control knob are user friendly and easy to figure out. There’s an optional smartphone integration package that includes Android Auto and apple CarPlay.
Several safety features are now standard. Active Brake Assist will warn you of an imminent crash and apply the brakes if necessary to prevent the crash or at least reduce the impact. Attention Assist can detect typical signs of drowsiness via the steering behavior and warn the driver. Optional driver tech features include Active Lane Keeping Assist and Distance Pilot Distronic, which automatically maintains a safe distance from the vehicle in front in stop-and-go traffic.
For off-road enthusiasts, the GLW250 now has a new optional off-road suspension that raises the vehicle 1.3 inches.
The GLA250 has less cargo space than many competitors. There are 14.9 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and 43.6 cubes with the rear seats folded. The rear seats and front passenger seat do fold flat, giving you flexibility in hauling long items. There’s a hands-free option that lets you open and close the rear hatch by moving your foot.
Competitors include the Acura RDX, Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus NX and Range Rover Evoque.
Low entry price gets you a Mercedes badge
Nimble driving dynamics
Available off-road suspension
The price can climb in a hurry with options
Small back seat, even for a compact crossover
Cargo space smaller than many competitors
My tester starts at $35,400. The panorama sunroof adds $1,480. The Premium Package is $1,800 and adds satellite radio, heated front seats, keyless entry, Blind Spot Assist and hands-free access. The Convenience Package is $400 and adds garage door opener, compass display in rearview mirror, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors. The Interior Package is $1,700 and adds leather upholstery, Mb-Tex on dash with top-stitching, 12 color ambient lighting, sport seats with integrated headrests. Multimedia Package is $2,300 and adds COMAND Navigation, voice control, DVD player, smartphone integration, Apple Carplay, Android Auto and SiriusXM traffic and weather. Sport package is $2,300 and adds AMG Body Styling, black headliner, brakes with perforated front discs and MB logo. Night Package is $300 and adds 19” wheels in black, black window trim, black exterior mirrors, black lamella inlay and black roof rails. Destination fee is $925 bringing the grand total to $44,305.
The GLA250 will appear to you if you want a petite crossover that sports the MB badge and has the handling and fuel efficiency of a small car, and you don’t need a lot of room for cargo and passengers.