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MSRP: $33,950 - 53,350

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA ranks low among luxury subcompact SUVs in part because of a cramped second row and below-average cargo space. Its unimpressive interior quality and ho-hum acceleration only make matters worse.

Pros & Cons

  • Engaging handling
  • User-friendly features
  • Above-average predicted reliability rating
  • So-so acceleration with base engine
  • Unforgiving ride
  • Some low-rent interior trim
  • Small back seat and trunk

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a Good SUV?

The Mercedes GLA is an OK luxury subcompact SUV. It’s one of the most fun to drive crossovers in the class, with eager corner-carving abilities and carlike maneuverability. However, the GLA has an unrefined transmission and hesitant throttle response.

The standard infotainment system works well and is easy to use, but that’s one of the few highlights of the interior. The back seat offers little space, and most rivals have a larger cargo hold. While many other Mercedes vehicles set the standard for elegance in their class, the GLA’s cabin quality is mediocre.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLA?

You should buy the GLA if you want a small crossover with engaging driving dynamics, and if you don’t often ferry around rear-seat passengers. A few better choices in the class take the GLA’s strengths and add in lots of other positives. Rivals like the BMW X1 and Volvo XC40 have ample passenger and cargo room, along with well-rounded performance. They also steal the show when it comes to interior quality and luxury.

Compare the GLA, X1, and XC40 »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz GLA?

The 2019 Mercedes GLA is part of the crossover’s first generation, which began with its introduction for 2015. It saw nominal changes each year, until a significant refresh for the 2018 model year. These changes include an updated exterior design, a standard rearview camera, a standard 8-inch infotainment display, and a newly available 360-degree parking camera.

The most notable change Mercedes-Benz made to the GLA for 2019 is the addition of several standard features for the AMG GLA 45. You may be better off shopping for a used GLA, but a 2018 model is a better bet than earlier years because of its improvements.

To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2017 GLA and 2018 GLA. If you decide an older model is right for you, check out our Used Car Deals page for the latest deals and incentives on used vehicles.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 GLA »

We Did the Research for You: 28 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 28 Mercedes-Benz GLA reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2019 GLA is the right new car for you. This 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLA Cost?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $33,950, which is about average for a luxury subcompact SUV. An all-wheel-drive version of the base model starts at $35,950. Adding most available options or packages to the GLA 250 pushes its price over $51,000.

The only other trim of the GLA is the performance-oriented AMG GLA 45, which starts at $53,350. This AMG model can increase in price to over $71,000 when you add lots of the available features and other performance upgrades.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1?

The BMW X1 is one of best all-around luxury subcompact SUVs, and it’s much better than the GLA. The X1 has a roomy back seat and the largest cargo hold in the class. While both cars have athletic handling, the X1 takes the edge in overall performance thanks to its peppy engine power. The BMW is a little nicer on the inside than the GLA, and the two have similar starting prices. The choice is clear: Go with the X1.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLA or Audi Q3?

The Mercedes GLA and the Audi Q3 are comparable vehicles, but neither is a standout in the luxury subcompact SUV class. Both have so-so performance overall, with acceleration that’s nothing to write home about. The GLA prioritizes engaging handling, while the Q3 delivers a comfier and more relaxing ride. The Audi feels more upscale inside, with higher-quality materials like standard leather seats. On the other hand, it doesn’t come standard with an infotainment system. The GLA does, however, and it also includes a few standard driver assistance features. The GLA and Q3 each have below-average cargo space and not much second-row space. A better predicted reliability gives the Q3 the overall edge in this matchup.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLA or Volvo XC40?

The Volvo XC40 is an all-new model, and it immediately outshines most of the luxury subcompact SUV class. There’s little reason to consider the GLA over this awesome new Volvo. The XC40 boasts lively acceleration and is relatively fun to drive. It has a ton of passenger and cargo space, beating out the GLA in both areas. The XC40 has a comparable base price to the GLA, but it comes with lots of advanced safety features and things you’d have to pay extra for with the GLA, such as leather seats, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. In this matchup, the Volvo is the winner.

Compare the GLA, X1, and Q3 »

GLA Interior

How Many People Does the GLA Seat?

The Mercedes-Benz GLA seats five people. Up front, the seats are supportive and well-sculpted to keep you in place during spirited driving. The front seats are also comfortable enough for long trips, and there’s plenty of space for a taller occupants. Standard 14-way power adjustments make it easy to find a relaxing position.

The GLA’s second row justifies its subcompact designation. Head- and legroom are tight, and opting for the available panoramic roof means you’ll lose precious headroom in the back.

GLA and Car Seats

The GLA has two complete sets of second-row LATCH car-seat connections, with an additional tether anchor for the middle seat. The lower anchors are set in plastic cutouts instead of buried down in the cushions, making them easy to locate and to attach the car seat straps.

GLA Interior Quality

This is Mercedes’ entry-level SUV, and its interior quality doesn’t match up to the rest of the brand’s lineup. Some plastics surfaces are noticeably hard, and the layout of buttons on the center stack looks a little dated. Fit and finish are good, however, as the GLA feels solid and well put together.

GLA Cargo Space

The Mercedes GLA has less cargo space than most of its class rivals. You’ll get about 17 cubic feet of space under the hatch, which is enough room for a few suitcases for a weekend getaway. Fold down the back seats, and you’ll have almost 44 cubic feet.

A power liftgate comes standard, and it gets hands-free access with the optional proximity keyless entry feature. Simply swing your foot under the bumper, and the hatch opens.

GLA Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The 2019 GLA comes standard with Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system. Like in many other high-end brands, a rotary dial on the center console controls most of the system’s functions. The system is relatively straightforward and easy to learn. The GLA’s center stack features a ton of traditional buttons and knobs that allow you to easily adjust audio or climate settings.

Additional standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. Optional features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo, satellite radio, navigation, voice command recognition, satellite traffic and weather, and smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Read more about interior »

GLA Performance

GLA Engine: Slow From a Stop

The 2019 Mercedes GLA 250 has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s good for 208 horsepower, and it’s paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This little SUV feels a bit sluggish if you try to accelerate hard from a stop. Not only does the GLA have timid throttle response, but it also has a turbocharger that takes a couple seconds to spool up before it delivers full power. The transmission only makes matters worse – it feels unrefined as it struggles to find the right gear or jumps between gears unexpectedly. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the high-performance AMG GLA 45. It features a hand-built, AMG turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 375 horsepower. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic benefits from AMG retuning and includes paddle shifters. This potent GLA variant rockets from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, which makes it one of the fastest SUVs money can buy. Check out our coverage on the other Fastest SUVs on the Market.

GLA Gas Mileage: Above Average

A base front-wheel-drive 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA gets 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Those numbers are better than what most other luxury subcompact SUVs can muster. An all-wheel-drive GLA is a little less efficient, returning 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Despite its much more powerful engine, the AMG GLA doesn’t give up a lot in fuel economy. It returns 22/28 mpg city/highway.

GLA Ride and Handling: Sharp, but a Little Stiff

The GLA has deft handling and engaging driving dynamics for a crossover. Its steering is well-weighted, and there’s good feedback from the road. Around corners, the GLA feels planted to the road. If you’re not inclined to whip the car through turns, you’ll at least appreciated its easy maneuverability. It drives like a smaller car, which makes it a good companion for navigating city streets and tight parking lots. The downside to the GLA’s sportiness is an uncomfortable ride. You’ll feel more bumps in the road than you might in other luxury cars.

Read more about performance »

GLA Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA Reliable?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA earns an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the GLA with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

GLA Safety

GLA Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2019 GLA. It's somewhat common for luxury-brand vehicles to not be crash tested.

GLA Safety Features

The 2019 GLA comes standard with a rearview camera, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Every model also includes driver drowsiness and attention monitoring. Optional advanced safety features include blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view parking camera, and automatic parking assist.

Read more about safety »

Which Mercedes-Benz GLA Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA comes in two main trims: the GLA 250 and the AMG GLA 45. The GLA 250 comes with a 2.0-liter, 208-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. The GLA 250 4Matic is an all-wheel-drive version of the base model. The AMG GLA 45 has a 375-horsepower engine, all-wheel drive, and a host of other performance upgrades.

A base model comes decently equipped for an entry-level SUV in this class. It features an infotainment system, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, and safety tech like driver attention and drowsiness monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Mercedes makes it easy to customize the GLA to fit your needs and budget by offering most options as part of a package or as standalone choices. Some à la carte options you may want to add include leather seats ($1,650) and smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay ($350).

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 starts at $33,950. Standard features include leatherette upholstery, 14-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a power liftgate. The standard COMAND infotainment system has an 8-inch display, HD Radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, driver attention and drowsiness monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.

For $1,800, the Premium package includes heated front seats, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and blind spot monitoring. The $400 Convenience package includes auto-dimming mirrors and a universal garage door opener. Spend $2,300 to get the Multimedia package, and you’ll get a navigation system, voice command recognition, satellite traffic and weather, and smartphone integration via Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Active safety features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist are found in the $1,500 Driver Assistance package. The Parking Assistance package costs $1,550 and comes with a surround-view parking camera, automatic parking assist, power-folding side mirrors, and auto-dimming mirrors.

Some of the above features can be added as standalone options. Additionally, leather seats will cost you $1,650, a panoramic roof is optional for $1,500, and a Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo costs an extra $850.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC

The GLA 250 4Matic is an all-wheel drive version of the base model that starts at $35,950. It has mostly the same standard features and options, while adding a few upgrades related to AWD.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45

The high-performance AMG GLA 45 starts at $53,350. It comes with all-wheel drive, an AMG-tuned transmission, paddle shifters, a sport suspension, a sport exhaust, and performance brakes. The GLA AMG has more aggressive styling and body details, and there are a number of other appearance options that you can choose from.

The GLA 45 includes all the features of the Convenience and Premium packages from above. The optional Dynamic Plus package includes a limited-slip differential, a higher top speed, an upgraded performance suspension, and a Race driving mode. You can add a performance exhaust for $650, performance front seats for $2,500, and a performance steering wheel for $500.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLA does little to stick out against its highly ranked and well-rounded rivals in the luxury subcompact SUV class. It offers a fraction of the practicality you’d need from a utility vehicle, and it disappoints when it comes to quality.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Based on a platform used to build small cars for Europe, the GLA combines performance and Mercedes luxury at the price of an average family sedan. … But a new 'budget Benz' isn't without compromise. The GLA rides rougher than a traditional Mercedes, and there's a general dearth of headroom, legroom and cargo space. The GLA 250's transmission also isn't very smooth and responds slowly to requests for more power. A high price relative to the GLA's competitors doesn't help either. Similar BMW and Audi models, while not much roomier, offer more refinement for the same price or less." -- Edmunds
  • "The compromises the GLA requires in usability and comfort may be too much for some-again, it's more of a tall hatchback than a real CUV-but Mercedes-Benz's littlest ute belongs on the shopping lists of luxury-minded buyers who value driving prowess over practicality." -- Car and Driver (2018)
  • "If you want the prestige, style, safety features and accouterments of a Mercedes-Benz SUV for an un-Mercedes price, the GLA is your answer. ... While the GLA's starting price … is tempting, it can quickly balloon with options. If your driving involves lots of highway miles or you predict the need for more room in the future, we suggest something more substantial like the Mercedes GLC or Lexus NX." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: March 21, 2019

Cooling Demand: The Mercedes-Benz GLA was the second-best selling luxury subcompact SUV behind the BMW X1 last year. However, sales have since declined, as dealerships have moved 33.3 percent fewer GLA models to date this year compared to 2018.

Research more buying advice »
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