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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

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$36,230 - 38,230 MSRP

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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Review

The redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is easy to drive, with a comfortable ride and a spacious interior. It isn't the most athletic vehicle in the luxury subcompact SUV class, but it still has a lot to offer.

Pros & Cons

  • User-friendly infotainment tech
  • Spacious seating
  • Good gas mileage
  • Perfect predicted reliability rating
  • Below-average cargo capacity behind rear seats
  • Cabin quality a notch below nicest interiors in class
  • Plenty of outside noise makes way into cabin

Research & Ratings

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is unranked in Luxury Subcompact SUVs due to missing safety data. Currently, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class's overall score is not available, though its Critics' Rating, Performance score, and Interior score are based on our evaluation of 8 pieces of research and data.

N/A

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 7.5
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other luxury subcompact suvs.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class?

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Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a Good SUV?

Yes, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is a good luxury subcompact SUV. Its base engine provides good acceleration, and there are two performance-oriented models if you really want to go fast. The GLA gets good gas mileage and delivers a comfortable ride as well. Inside, both rows of seats are spacious, and an intuitive infotainment system headlines the features list. To cap things off, this Mercedes earns a perfect predicted reliability rating.

There are a few areas where the GLA lags behind its competitors, however. It isn't the most fun-to-drive small crossover, and the interior is a step below the most opulent cabins in the class. Occupants will notice the outside noise at highway speeds, and cargo space behind the rear seats is below average.

Why You Can Trust Us: 8 Reviews Analyzed

We don’t base our car reviews on our personal opinions. Instead, we combine the findings of professional test drivers with data such as reliability ratings and safety scores to give you a complete overview of every vehicle we rank.

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking the best cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years’ worth of auto industry experience combined. To keep our reviews unbiased, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside company manages our advertising.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLA?

The all-new GLA has a lot going for it, as detailed above. As long as athleticism isn't your primary concern with your new SUV, then the GLA is a vehicle you should consider. It also has a reasonable price tag compared to the rest of the class, making it a solid value pick.

Find a 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is completely redesigned, so it sees a number of changes from the 2020 model. The 2021 GLA sits higher than the outgoing generation, and it has a bit more cargo space, even though its overall length decreases slightly. The new GLA has a more powerful base engine and more standard active safety features. There are also two performance-oriented Mercedes-AMG models that round out the trim lineup.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 GLA »

Here are the key changes for the Mercedes-Benz GLA over the last few years:

  • 2017: remote start became standard; gained available Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • 2018: rearview camera and high-def infotainment display added to standard features list
  • 2019: no major changes
  • 2020: AMG GLA 45 model unavailable
  • 2021: completely redesigned

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 GLA, 2019 GLA, and 2020 GLA reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLA Cost?

The GLA starts at $36,230. That's one of the higher starting prices in the class, but there are only a few luxury subcompact SUVs with base prices significantly under $34,000, so it's not like the GLA's MSRP is outrageously higher than competitors' price tags.

There are two performance-tuned versions of the GLA: the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and 45. The GLA 35 starts at $47,550, which is more expensive than some rivals' top trims. Pricing info is not yet available for the new GLA 45, but it will be the most expensive model in the lineup.

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.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Versus the Competition

Mercedes-Benz GLA vs. BMW X1

The BMW X1 is arguably the most fun-to-drive luxury subcompact SUV. It has a potent engine and excellent handling, but it also delivers a cushioned ride and gets good gas mileage. Both of these SUVs have nice interiors and user-friendly technology, but the GLA provides a bit more passenger space, while the BMW has more room for cargo.

Compare the GLA and X1 »

Mercedes-Benz GLA vs. Audi Q3

The Audi Q3 features one of the most upscale interiors in the class, putting it a step ahead of the GLA. The Q3 also has much more cargo room behind the rear seats, though the GLA's max capacity is a smidge higher. Both of these crossovers have ample space for adults in both rows and intuitive tech features. The Audi has a strong powertrain and is more enjoyable to drive than the Mercedes, but the GLA gets better gas mileage.

Compare the GLA and Q3 »

Compare the GLA, X1, and Q3 »

GLA Interior: Room to Spare

GLA Cargo Space

Most class rivals give you more cargo space behind the rear seats than the 15.4 cubic feet the GLA provides. However, if you fold the rear seats down, this Mercedes has 50.5 cubic feet of room, which is a solid total for a small luxury crossover.

How Many People Does the GLA Seat?

This Mercedes crossover seats five people. In contrast to the outgoing model, the all-new GLA has oodles of space up front and plenty of head- and legroom for adults to ride comfortably in the back. These aren't the plushest seats in the class, but most people will find them suitably comfortable and supportive.

GLA and Child Car Seats

The GLA has two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats, as well as an upper tether for the rear middle seat.

GLA Interior Quality

The GLA feels like a lower-budget Mercedes. That's not an insult, since that's literally what this small SUV is. There's a mix of top-notch materials and hard plastics that skews toward the higher-quality side, and there are some nice styling touches that make the interior look good. The only real complaint is that outside noise will intrude on you and your passengers.

GLA Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The redesigned GLA has the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, replacing the COMAND system found in previous models. The new interface is a delight. The controls are easy to reach, and the menu layouts are intuitive. The touch screen responds quickly to inputs, and there's a handy voice control feature that lets you activate a number of functions by saying "Hey Mercedes" and then making a request.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, a touchpad controller, six speakers, HD Radio, four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto
  • Available infotainment features: a 10.25-inch touch screen, a 12-speaker Burmester audio system, satellite radio, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and navigation
  • Additional standard features: dual-zone automatic climate control and remote start
  • Other available features: a panoramic glass roof

Read more about interior »

GLA Performance: … and They Were All Like, ‘AMG! That's So Crazy!’

GLA Engine

The Mercedes GLA 250 features a 221-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The two Mercedes-AMG models also feature turbo-fours, though they're much more powerful: 302 horsepower in the AMG GLA 35 and 382 horsepower in the AMG GLA 45. All engines are mated with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The base GLA lacks the potency of the two AMG models, both of which sprint from zero to 60 mph in five seconds or better, but it's still an enjoyable driving machine. The base engine delivers lively acceleration and has ample power for highway driving. Opinions are split about the transmission, with some reviewers finding it smooth and others arguing that it feels clunky at parking lot speeds.

GLA Gas Mileage

This Mercedes gets better gas mileage than most of its classmates. It earns ratings of 25 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway when equipped with front-wheel drive. All-wheel-drive models are nearly as efficient, returning 24/33 mpg city/highway. The AMG GLA 35 gets worse ratings than the GLA 250: It returns 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

GLA Ride and Handling

This is an easy-to-drive small crossover, but it isn't the most athletic vehicle in the class. The GLA has sharp steering and won't have you shying away from winding roads, but there's enough body lean that you may not want to go full-bore into turns. The suspension feels a tad firm, but the ride remains smooth.

Front-wheel drive comes standard, and all-wheel drive is available (AWD comes standard in Mercedes-AMG models).

Read more about performance »

GLA Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA Reliable?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA has a stellar predicted reliability rating of five out of five.

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 2021 GLA. This is common for luxury vehicles.

GLA Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Forward collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Driver drowsiness monitoring
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Vehicle exit warning (alerts drivers when vehicles or cyclists are approaching from behind as the doors are being opened)
  • Crosswind assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • Head-up display
  • Traffic sign recognition
  • Parallel and perpendicular park assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane centering assist
  • Active lane change assist
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Intersection assist
  • Pre Safe Plus (tightens seat belts and rolls up windows if sensors detect an impending rearward collision)
  • Route-based speed adaptation
  • Surround-view parking camera system

Read more about safety »

GLA Dimensions and Weight

The GLA is about 14.5 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,384 to 3,494 pounds.

Where Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2021 GLA in Germany.

Which Mercedes-Benz GLA Model Is Right for Me?

The Mercedes-Benz GLA comes in three trims: 250, AMG 35, and AMG 45. All GLA models have similar lists of standard and available features, so your decision should boil down to two main factors: whether you want all-wheel drive and which engine you like the best.

The GLA 250 4Matic is a solid choice. While its engine is not as potent as those in the AMG models, the 250's turbo-four gets the job done, and you have the added control of all-wheel drive compared to the base trim. Plus, you can put the money you save by not splurging on an AMG model toward additional comfort and driver assistance features.

There are a number of available features that you can add individually or as part of option packages. These features include genuine leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a panoramic glass roof, a larger touch screen, a Burmester audio system, satellite radio, wireless device charging, navigation, a head-up display, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and a surround-view parking camera system.

GLA 250

The GLA 250 carries a base price of $36,230. The GLA 250 has a 221-horsepower turbo-four engine, an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive.

Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, reclining rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, and the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, a touchpad controller, HD Radio, four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Standard driver assistance features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, blind spot monitoring, vehicle exit warning, and crosswind assist.

You can add 4Matic all-wheel drive to the 250 for an extra $2,000.

AMG GLA 35

The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 starts at $47,550. It comes with a 302-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. In addition to the more powerful engine, the AMG GLA 35 comes with all-wheel drive, high-performance brakes, a sport suspension, and two additional drive modes. From a comfort and convenience standpoint, this AMG model is similar to the lower trims.

AMG GLA 45

The Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 has the most powerful engine in the lineup: a 382-horsepower turbocharged inline-four. Beyond the engine upgrade, the AMG GLA 45 is pretty much the same as the AMG GLA 35, though it does include a sixth drive mode.

Mercedes has not yet released pricing info for this model.

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 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA specs and trims »

The Final Call

The redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is a quality pick in the luxury subcompact SUV class. It's not the most dynamic small crossover, and it may not quite hit the luxury heights you expect from a Mercedes, but the GLA is comfortable, spacious, and loaded with features. All of the technology is easy to use, and this Benz is relaxing to drive. It's a solid choice in this class.

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

  • "We're impressed with the new GLA. It's smaller on the outside, and larger within. It's loaded with cool entertainment and safety technology. It's fun to drive. What's more, it's well built, and as a subcompact crossover SUV, the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA maintains some good practicality." -- Autotrader
  • "… Even as an entry-level SUV model, it's much more deserving of the Mercedes-Benz badge than before. Interestingly, Mercedes also has its new GLB SUV. It's similar in concept and price but offers more passenger and cargo space. But the GLB has blockier styling, especially in contrast to the GLA's sleekness. In any case, the new GLA is a solid pick for an extra-small luxury SUV and compares well against the Audi Q3 and BMW X1." -- Edmunds
  • "With the debut of the 2021 GLA, Mercedes-Benz's subcompact compact SUV has improved its standing in the ever-expanding sea of luxurious crossovers that includes the Audi Q3, the BMW X2, the Infiniti QX30, the Lexus UX, and the Volvo XC40." -- Kelley Blue Book

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Rising Sales: The GLA was fully redesigned for the 2021 model year, and the updates appear to have caught the attention of shoppers. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mercedes-Benz dealerships have managed to move 9.1 percent more GLA models this year compared to the same period in 2019. The GLA is also the second-best seller in the luxury subcompact SUV segment, hot on the heels of the class-leading Audi Q3.

Research more buying advice »
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