The 2018 Mercedes Benz GLA-Class makes a smart choice if you want a luxury crossover that moves, parks and economizes fuel like a compact sedan. The high-performance GLA 45 trim, meanwhile, is in a class by itself.
Based on Mercedes' budget-friendly CLA sedan, the GLA crossover delivers athletic handling and big smiles on narrow, twisting roads. Most Benzes lean toward stately power and control, but the GLA is one of the more fun, raucous models in the lineup. Both the GLA250 and AMG GLA 45 also offer powerful engines, good real-world fuel economy (29 and 26 mpg combined, respectively), a full complement of convenience and connected technology, and a long list of luxury and safety features.
For 2018, the GLA carries over mostly unchanged, but there's a subtle new look to the front and rear bumpers and new wheel designs. The gauge cluster design is new, and a rearview camera and 8-inch display are now standard equipment.
The GLA's inherent weaknesses, however, haven't changed. The ride is still rougher than you'd expect of a Mercedes, sporty or not. There's not much headroom or legroom, or much cargo space. And though the GLA250's four-cylinder engine sounds strong and performs well, the accompanying automatic transmission responds slowly to pedal inputs, especially in the default Eco mode. The AMG GLA 45 has a more responsive transmission to go along with its big increase in horsepower.
The GLA's relatively high cost doesn't help its case. Similar models from BMW, Audi and Lexus, while not much bigger or roomier, offer a greater level of refinement for the same price or less. Even the Infiniti QX30, essentially a GLA in Infiniti clothing, offers better ride quality and (slightly) better transmission tuning.
Though the GLA wears a Mercedes star, it's worth considering its rivals before making a final decision. The GLA 45 is something else entirely. It shares most of the GLA's basic flaws, but blistering speed and performance tend to overshadow its blemishes. There's nothing else like it in the class.
trim levels & features
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is offered in three trim levels: GLA250, GLA250 4Matic, and AMG GLA 45. The GLA250 comes with a 208-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a decent feature list that includes power-adjustable front seats, a power liftgate, Bluetooth and a 7-inch central display. The GLA250 4Matic version adds all-wheel drive and hill descent control. The AMG GLA 45 shares the same basic feature set, but with a more powerful engine and other high-performance upgrades.
The GLA250 starts with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (208 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque), a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Key standard features include 18-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, power-adjustable driver seat, three performance driving modes, imitation leather upholstery, and a 60/40-split folding rear seatback with a center pass-through.
Tech features include an 8-inch central display with a dial-and-button control array, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, HD radio, an SD card reader and two USB ports. Certain features of Mercedes' Mbrace telematics system (including a Wi-Fi hotspot and concierge services) are available on a subscription basis.
The all-wheel-drive GLA250 4Matic model adds some all-weather and light off-road capability with hill descent control and an off-road status monitor that analyzes steering angle, tilt angle and grade percentage.
Several option packages are available for the GLA250. The Premium package bundles blind-spot monitoring, keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, and hands-free liftgate open and close, while the Interior package adds leather upholstery, sport seats and ambient cabin lighting. The Multimedia package includes a navigation system, voice controls, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and real-time satellite traffic and weather information.
Adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist are available in the Driver Assistance package, a Convenience package adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a new Parking Assist package adds a surround-view camera and a self-parking system.
The AMG Line Exterior package offers a high-performance look with 19-inch AMG wheels, AMG body styling and a black headliner. The Night package further enhances this look with black wheels, trim and side mirror caps.
Stand-alone options include several package items (blind-spot monitoring, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, for example) as well as upgrades that include a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, ambient cabin lighting, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
The AMG GLA 45 comes with all-wheel drive and the GLA250's standard features, but with significantly more power (375 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque) from the same engine. It's further distinguished with 19-inch wheels, a sport exhaust, sport-tuned suspension and steering, upgraded brakes, LED headlights and a power passenger seat. The GLA 45's options largely mirror those of the GLA250, but there are a couple of exclusive additions.
The AMG Dynamic Plus package includes adaptive dampers, a limited-slip differential, a Race driving mode and a higher top speed. Meanwhile, a new AMG Performance Studio package is a fierce styling upgrade that includes 20-inch wheels, body kit, a rear spoiler, sport seats, and various components trimmed in black and yellow. A handful of other packages offer aesthetic enhancements inside and out.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 7-speed dual-clutch automatic | AWD).
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
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