The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class offers a happy compromise. The smallest crossover SUV in the Mercedes lineup is also the most affordable at $37,280. It may not be the best Benz, or even the Benz rolling in your dreams, but well-equipped and flush with options, the GLA250 satisfies many wants without sacrificing many others.
The redesigned 2021 model is less of a compromise than the first generation model launched for 2015. It’s taller, wider, roomier, with a more comfy ride and better technology. The extensive—and expensive—options list limits this notion of compromise, and some of it should be standard, but the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class earns a much-improved TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10.
The beginner Benz matures into its larger proportions with a taller ride height, wider stance, yet it’s a bit shorter in length. It looks more like a proper luxury crossover instead of a hatchover like the outgoing model. An aviator theme carries over from the mesh grille design to the turbine vents inside.
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A 2.0-liter turbo-4 returns, retuned to 221 horsepower, getting an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. An 8-speed automatic transmission is mostly smooth though it can lurch in Sport mode when downshifting to a stop. An independent rear suspension cushions the ride quality, and it handles less like a hatch and more like a crossover. The 382-hp AMG GLA45 should right that wrong when it launches later this year.
The reboot rights many of the wrongs when it comes to interior space and comfort. Rear seat leg room shifts from one of the worst in the class to one of the best with 4.5 additional inches of space with reclining and sliding rear seats. The seat bottoms tend to the short side, and cargo volume, while improved, forces a decision between hauling passengers or gear.
The standard feature set is good, with 8-way power-adjustable front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power liftgate, keyless entry and ignition, and a panel of side-by-side 7.0-inch screens that support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The 10.3-inch dual-screen size upgrade will tempt many shoppers, as will many other options that can take the price to an uncompromising $55,000 range.
Though the GLA hasn’t been crash-tested, it includes automatic emergency braking. But to get active lane control, adaptive cruise control and other safety tech that many mass market automakers include as standard, it’ll cost you another $1,700. We recommend it, given the broad blind spots on the GLA.