2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA
The Mercedes GLA, introduced in 2015, is the smallest crossover in the automaker’s lineup. Its handling is nimble, and it sports lots of useful space under its hatchback.
For 2020 the higher-performance AMG version of the GLA has been discontinued, as a new version is readied for 2021.
The GLA 250 uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It makes a light 208 horsepower but compensates with 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 rpm, so it will pull away from a stop with gusto, before it tapers off, to hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.
The EPA rates the front-wheel-drive GLA 250 at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined. With all-wheel drive, those numbers slip to 23/31/26 mpg.
The GLA hasn’t been crash-tested, but the 2020 GLA comes with standard automatic emergency braking. Options include LED headlights, blind-spot monitors and adaptive cruise control.
For a starting price of $35,245 including destination, the front-wheel-drive GLA comes standard with fabric upholstery, 14-way power front memory seats, dual-zone climate control, a 8.0-inch display screen, power tailgate, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, and 18-inch wheels. Mercedes is one of the last automakers to still charge for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility ($350).
All-wheel drive is $2,000 more.
The three-pointed star dominating the grille might be the most Mercedes thing about the GLA. The GLA is tidier and more compact than for example the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, with their SUV-like rising beltlines and bulky rear ends. It displays sporty cues with short overhangs, a raked front windshield, and 18-inch wheels.
The cockpit is handsome. The airplane-like circular climate vents come off well, and the 8.0-inch infotainment screen is mounted on the dash.
The front seats can be snug, due to aggressive bolsters and firm cushions, but the standard 14-way power adjustment is very helpful.
The rear seat is cramped, with only 34 inches of leg room; that’s nearly 3 inches less than a Honda Civic hatchback. Head room is better.
Cargo space is a scant 17 cubic feet behind the split-folding rear seat, which when folded expands to a much more generous 43.6 cubic feet.
The hatchback styling makes the rear corners tight, so rearward visibility is an issue. A surround-view camera system solves that.
The GLA’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 is mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 rpm. The acceleration is adequate. There are standard driving modes, and it takes almost full-time use of Sport mode to make the GLA feel potent.
The GLA is spry in the corners, especially for a crossover. But the springs are stiff, while the standard wheels can make cruising louder than you expect from a Mercedes, especially with the available summer tires.
The all-wheel-drive system sends most of the torque to the front wheels on dry pavement, but when bite is needed in the rear, the system adapts. So the GLA is good in snow and mud, as long as it’s not too deep.
Optional offroad features help, but still they’re more useful for safety on the road. The available hill-descent control, for example, takes the fear out of driving down steep icy hills.
The 2020 Mercedes GLA-Class remains a good entry-level Mercedes. The powertrain is fine, the handling is nimble, and the hatchback styling is tidy.
—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection