2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Review

One of the most raucous Benzes, the GLA delivers athletic handling and big smiles on twisty roads.
7.1 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

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.



What's new for 2018

For 2018 both GLA models get subtle updates to the front and rear bumpers and new wheel designs. The gauge cluster design is also new, and a rearview camera and an 8-inch display are now standard equipment. Options such as LED headlights and Android Auto were also added.

We recommend

The base-level GLA250 comes with a generous features list, but we'd still want to add the Premium package for its satellite radio, keyless entry, heated seats and blind-spot monitoring, and the Multimedia package for its voice-controlled navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration. For frequent highway commuting, we might also opt for the Driver Assistance package, which bundles adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist.



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.



Trim tested

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).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.1 / 10

Driving

8.0 / 10

Acceleration8.0 / 10
Braking8.5 / 10
Steering8.5 / 10
Handling9.0 / 10
Drivability5.0 / 10

Comfort

6.5 / 10

Seat comfort7.5 / 10
Ride comfort5.0 / 10
Noise & vibration7.0 / 10

Interior

6.5 / 10

Ease of use8.5 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Roominess5.5 / 10
Visibility5.5 / 10
Quality6.5 / 10

Driving8.0

The GLA250 uniquely blends straight-line performance and sharp handling with an elevated ground clearance for rutted roads or the occasional field you might drive through. It's like a powerful Subaru XV Crosstrek. Unfortunately, the throttle and transmission don't respond as quickly as we'd like.

Acceleration8.0

Sprinted from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Much quicker than an Audi Q3; about equal to slightly larger luxury SUVs. The 208-hp turbo four-cylinder feels energetic, but acceleration around town is hampered by sluggish throttle and transmission.

Braking8.5

Came to a stop from 60 mph in 105 feet, which is excellent even for a vehicle with summer tires. After repeated stops, distances stayed short, but pedal response diminished.

Steering8.5

The GLA's steering is nicely weighted whether around town or when pushing it on our mountain road. It errs on the lighter side, but it's precise and linear with sharp turn-in. You can feel the road through the steering wheel.

Handling9.0

The GLA doesn't handle like an SUV. It feels more like a nimble hatchback. There's less tugging on the steering wheel in the all-wheel-drive GLA 45. Well-managed body lean, plenty of tire grip and a well-tuned stability control system.

Drivability5.0

Severe gas pedal lag in the default E mode along with a slow-to-engage seven-speed transmission equals a car that is frustrating to drive at low speeds. Selecting S or manual mode is slightly better, but these are reasons to avoid this car.

Off-road8.0

Eight inches of ground clearance is more than most small SUVs or hatchbacks have. AWD includes hill descent control, an off-road transmission mode and special COMAND displays (wheel angle, compass). AWD sends up to 50 percent of torque to rear wheels.

Comfort6.5

The GLA's suspension, wheels and tires send far more impact harshness into the cabin during around-town driving than we've come to expect from luxury cars. The poor ride quality is a big reason why the GLA fails to earn a higher rating.

Seat comfort7.5

The GLA's seats offer nice side bolstering and, despite being quite cushy, offer good long-distance support. Mercedes' MB-Tex faux leather looks and feels like the real thing and breathes decently. The driver's seat could use more thigh support.

Ride comfort5.0

The GLA is flat out unpleasant in a city filled with potholes, expansion joints and uneven concrete pavement. Low speeds are not its friend, but as speeds rise, the highway ride is well-damped and comfortable over distances.

Noise & vibration7.0

There's some elevated wind noise around the large side mirrors. This certainly isn't the usual Mercedes vault, but it nevertheless has the sort of quietness expected of a luxury-branded car.

Interior6.5

Though we appreciate Mercedes' intuitive COMAND electronics interface, the GLA's interior is otherwise compromised functionally. Space and visibility are the same as in a compact hatchback, but you're paying a price that's closer to that of a luxury compact SUV.

Ease of use8.5

The GLA's interior is deceptively simple and remarkably easy to use, with a large infotainment screen, clear gauges and an easy knob- and button-based climate control system. The gear-selector stalk is a love-it-or-hate-it item.

Getting in/getting out7.0

If you struggle with the climb up into an SUV's higher seat, the GLA may have appeal thanks to its lower stance. The lower height means loading kids in the back is similar to loading them in a car.

Roominess5.5

The backseat has minimal legroom compared to an SUV's, and headroom is significantly hindered by the optional panoramic sunroof. The rear seat doesn't recline or slide. Tall occupants up front may feel as if their heads are up against the roof.

Visibility5.5

If you're looking for that tall, commanding view indicative of an SUV, look elsewhere. The GLA's seating position is low, the windshield pillars are aggressively raked, and the rear quarter view is compromised. Good thing a rearview camera comes standard.

Quality6.5

Everything you touch (stalks, switches, steering wheel) comes from the same high-quality parts bin as most other Mercedes models. Yet the trim pieces are harder and more plastic-feeling than in other Mercedes models and similarly priced SUVs.

Utility6.5

It might look like an active lifestyle car or play one on TV, but you can't pack a lot of activity into the GLA. Tidy cargo space can accommodate a couple pieces of luggage or outdoor gear, and with all-wheel drive you could wheel to remote camping. Pack wisely.

Technology

Decent bit of tech even at the base level, including an 8-inch display, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system and a five-year trial of Mbrace Connect telematics services (which includes an optional Wi-Fi hotspot). Satellite radio, navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are options.

Audio & navigation

Voice-controlled navigation comes in the optional Multimedia package. There's also an optional Garmin Map Pilot SD card-based system. A six-speaker sound system is standard; a 12-speaker Harman Kardon upgrade is optional.

Smartphone integration

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are offered as part of the optional Multimedia package.

Driver aids

Offers most common driver aids but ties them up in different option bundles. A rearview camera and automatic emergency braking are standard, but blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise and parking assist come in separate packages.

Voice control

Navigation with voice control comes with the Multimedia package, which also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms for voice commands.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.