2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Review
Pros & Cons
- Sporty handling and performance even in the base model
- AMG GLA 45's long list of available technology and safety features
- Ride quality is firm to the point some might object
- Road and wind noise is in abundance
- Automatic transmission can operate awkwardly in stop-and-go situations
- Less cargo capacity than its rivals
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic's on-road character more closely resembles that of a conventional hatchback than a typical go-anywhere SUV. Around turns, the GLA250 will impress you with its agility and secure handling. The GLA's relatively tight turning circle of 36 feet proves well-suited to the cut and thrust of urban driving as well.
Unfortunately, the GLA suffers from an overly firm and occasionally harsh ride quality, especially when you opt for bigger wheel sizes. The transmission is also frustrating — it is slow to engage a gear from a standstill and stutters with indecision in stop-and-go traffic. That's a shame because the GLA250's turbocharged four-cylinder actually possesses solid low- and midrange grunt. This gives it a satisfying and user-friendly power delivery.
The AMG GLA 45, of course, is an entirely different animal, providing a degree of performance and handling potential that only the Porsche Macan can match among similar crossovers. It has a similar ride quality to the GLA250, but because it's a sport-tuned model, that attribute is easier to accept.
Similar to the CLA-Class sedan, with which it shares many cabin components, the GLA looks like a traditional Mercedes inside. Big analog gauges, a clean center-stack design, and tight fit and finish impart the same premium feel shared across the Mercedes lineup. If you get up close and personal with the materials, however, you can see where the GLA falls short not only compared to more expensive Mercedes siblings but also rivals such as the Lexus NX and BMW X1.
The optional navigation system's display looks like an aftermarket addition given its location perched high on the dash. On the upside, the screen is easy to read and fairly large. Although it takes a little getting used to, the column-mounted gear selector quickly becomes second nature and frees up valuable, easily accessed storage space on the console. A variety of cabin accents, which include walnut, ash, aluminum and (GLA 45 only) carbon fiber, dresses things up.
A modestly elevated driving position provides excellent forward visibility, but the shallow angle of the tailgate and thick roof pillars impede the view out back. Although there is a lot to like about the front row, the rear quarters are less accommodating and space is distinctly lacking compared with rivals such as the BMW X1 and Acura RDX. For example, the GLA has 27.1 inches of rear legroom and 53.2 inches of rear shoulder room, compared to the X1’s 37 inches/55.2 inches and the RDX’s 38.3 inches/57.2 inches. Fortunately, there's enough headroom for adult passengers as long as you don't order the sunroof.
Cargo space behind the GLA's rear seats measures 14.9 cubic feet — among the smallest in the segment. Fold the rear seats down and you have 43.6 cubic feet available, which is less than most rivals and indicative of a compact hatchback. The standard power liftgate is nice, but the liftover is set quite high, making it a chore to load heavy luggage.