2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

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MSRP: $33,400 - 50,600

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Review

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA sits in the top half of our luxury subcompact SUV rankings. It doesn’t stand out in any one area, but it’s a well-rounded vehicle with a great deal of standard features. Though its acceleration lags behind class leaders, its agile handling helps balance things out. 

7.8

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 7.3
Safety: N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Pros & Cons

  • Sporty handling
  • Impressive infotainment system and features
  • Thrilling AMG model
  • Inefficient base transmission
  • Cramped back seat

New for 2018

  • Rearview camera now standard
  • New standard 8-inch high-resolution infotainment display
  • Refreshed exterior design
  • New available Parking Assist package with 360-degree camera

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA a Good SUV?

Yes – the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA is a solid luxury subcompact SUV, but it's on the small side for the class. It's more of a hatchback than an SUV, with limited rear-seat and cargo space. Its standard features list is appealing, with an intuitive infotainment system and driver assistance features. You can also add on other cool extras like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The engine is powerful enough, but its finicky transmission dampens acceleration. It has a slightly stiff ride, but that is true of most crossovers.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz GLA?

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a good crossover for those who rarely carry passengers. It has a high-end interior and an engaging drive. There are a good number of features for the price, including a driver attention monitor, an easy-to-use infotainment system, and automatic braking. However, if you need more space for people and their cargo, you'll want to consider the larger (and higher priced) Mercedes-Benz GLC. If you want to stay within the price range of the GLA, consider the spacious, elegant, and fun-to-drive BMW X1.

Compare the GLA, GLC, and X1 »

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

Mercedes-Benz introduced the GLA as an all-new model for 2015, and it's seen a few changes every year since. For 2018, Mercedes added a wealth of upgrades, including a standard rearview camera, a standard 8-inch high-definition infotainment display, a newly available 360-degree camera, and a refreshed exterior design.

Still, if none of those improvements are particularly important to you, consider saving some cash with an older model in the generation. To research some other models in this generation, check out our reviews of the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Mercedes-Benz 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 2016, 2017, and 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA »
We Did the Research for You: 26 Reviews Analyzed

We researched and analyzed 26 professional reviews and combined that analysis with data like crash test and reliability ratings, gas mileage, performance specs, and much more to create one comprehensive 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA review. This full review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2018 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our research and editorial staff has decades of combined experience in the automotive industry, and U.S. News & World Report has been ranking and reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007. To ensure our objectivity, we don't accept expensive gifts or incentives from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz GLA Cost?

The Mercedes-Benz GLA250 starts at $33,400, which is right in line with its competitors in the luxury subcompact SUV class. The BMW X1 has a price of $33,900, while the Audi Q3 will run you $32,900. Move up a class to the luxury compact 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC, and you'll pay $40,050.

Pricing for the GLA is fairly straightforward, as there are only a couple of models: the base GLA250 and the performance-oriented AMG GLA 45. A GLA with all-wheel drive (termed the GLA250 4Matic) costs $2,000 more than the base model. Most optional features are added via packages that retail for between $1,400 and $2,300. Other individual options can be added for as little as several hundred dollars.

A fully loaded GLA250 4Matic costs nearly $54,000. The AMG GLA starts at $50,600 and can cost up to about $73,500. That money mostly goes to performance and appearance upgrades, though, as the AMG doesn’t add any major interior options from the GLA.

For more information about the Mercedes-Benz GLA's standard and optional features, check out the "Which Mercedes-Benz GLA Model Is Right for Me?" section below.

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

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz GLA or Mercedes-Benz GLC?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a luxury compact SUV that costs several thousand dollars more than its smaller sibling, but it's worth the extra money. Cargo space in the GLA and GLC is comparable when the rear seats are up, but the GLC has over a dozen more cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded down. In the GLC, tall occupants can ride comfortably in the back seat, which isn't the case in the GLA. The larger SUV also comes with a more upscale interior and slightly better performance. The GLC has a comfortable ride and a smooth-shifting transmission, while the GLA has a stiff ride and a fussy transmission. Both SUVs have similar infotainment features and functionality. If you have some leeway in your budget, go for the GLC over the GLA.

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

The BMW X1 is one of the best performing luxury subcompact SUVs. Its potent 228-horsepower engine has plenty of power and delivers brisk acceleration without sacrificing ride comfort. The X1 also has a higher-quality interior than the GLA, and it can seat tall adults in both rows of seats. Its cargo space is also more plentiful; it holds about 15 more cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded. In terms of features, however, the GLA is slightly more modern. For instance, the X1 offers Apple CarPlay, but it doesn't offer Android Auto (available in the GLA). Both SUVs have similar standard driver assistance technologies, like a rearview camera and rain-sensing windshield wipers. However, the GLA includes other features that the X1 doesn't have, like emergency braking and a driver attention monitor. Still, the X1 is a better choice.

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

The Audi Q3's disappointing performance prevents it from competing well with other SUVs in the class. It has decent pickup for driving around town, but it lacks power for quick acceleration on the highway. The Q3's strong point is its soft and supple ride, which is good for commuting or taking long road trips. Meanwhile, the GLA has a stiffer suspension for a more dynamic ride. They both have attractive interiors as well as similar passenger and cargo space, but the Q3 doesn't have as many of the GLA’s niceties. To get an infotainment system in the Q3, you have to add a package, but it's standard in the GLA. Overall, the GLA is a better choice than the Q3.

Compare the GLA, GLC, and Q3 »

GLA Interior

How Many People Does the GLA Seat?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA seats five, but the back seat is best suited for three children or two small adults. Legroom is generally limited in the second row, especially after the front occupants have adjusted their seats. Rear headroom is fine, although opting for the moonroof chops away a few precious inches of space.

Accommodations are better up front: a standard 14-way power-adjustable seat allows the driver to find the perfect position, and the seats themselves are comfortable and supportive. There is good outward visibility of the road ahead, but a sloped rear window and thick pillars can limit rear visibility. Fortunately, a rearview camera is now standard to assist with that task. Mercedes' MB-Tex leatherette upholstery is standard, but you can opt for the real thing – and upgrades like heated front seats.

GLA and Car Seats

The GLA offers two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors in the back seat. There is also a top tether anchor on the rear middle seat.

Like in many luxury cars, the lower anchors are hidden behind plastic flaps at the base of the seat to make them more accessible. The tether anchors for the outboard rear seats are located about halfway down the seatbacks, while the middle tether is set slightly above the trunk pass-through.

GLA Interior Quality

The GLA doesn't have the outright opulence of other Mercedes' cabins, but its interior quality mostly matches the SUV's price point. Comfortable, good-quality leatherette seating is standard. Though there are some unimpressive plastic surfaces, the overall cabin design is modern and pleasant.

GLA Cargo Space

The GLA is more reminiscent of a hatchback car than a small SUV. You'll get 17.2 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up and 43.6 cubic feet with them down. Those numbers are less than what most of the GLA's rivals offer, though they’re close to the 2018 Audi Q3’s measurements. The Q3 has 16.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, but a maximum of 48.2 cubic feet with them folded. The BMW X1 is among class leaders, offering 27.1 and 58.7 cubic feet, respectively. Those measurements are even more than those of the Mercedes GLC, even though it resides in a larger class. The GLC offers 19.4 cubic feet with the rear seats in use and 56.5 cubic feet with the seats folded.

A power rear liftgate comes standard in the GLC, but the trunk floor is somewhat high and can make loading heavy items a chore. You can also opt for hands-free trunk access, which opens the liftgate with a wave of your foot under the rear bumper.

GLA Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

One of the highlights of the 2018 GLA is its standard infotainment system. For this model year, the display screen increases from 7 inches to 8 inches, and it continues to impress with sharp graphics and easy-to-read information. Instead of a touch screen, a knob on the center console controls most commands. The system is easy to use once you get the hang of it, and the menus are simple to navigate and have quick response times.

One slight gripe with the infotainment system is that the display seems to be standing on its own rather than integrated into the dashboard, making it look like an afterthought. Functionality should make up for any reservations. Other standard features include HD Radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, a rearview camera, and remote start.

You can outfit the GLA with additional amenities like proximity-key entry, a Harman Kardon premium sound system, satellite radio, navigation, voice command control, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Those last two features stand out not only for their convenience in accessing most of the daily functions from your phone, but also because you can add them to any GLA for just $350. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay aren’t available at all in competitors like the BMW X1, Audi Q3, or more expensive Mercedes-Benz GLC.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto? Then, see the Best Cars With Apple CarPlay and Best Cars With Android Auto.

Read more about interior »

GLA Performance

GLA Engine: Tame Transmission

The standard 2018 GLA250 trim has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. While those are good numbers in theory, the model’s on-road performance doesn’t reflect them. You might experience some lag when accelerating hard from a stop, as the turbocharger needs a few seconds to get up to speed. Furthermore, the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission can hesitate to find the right gear, resulting in acceleration that is less smooth and steady than expected.

The AMG GLA45 trim gets the best performance out of this small crossover. Mercedes' performance division imparts a 375-horsepower turbocharged engine that also puts down 350 pound-feet of torque. It can bolt from zero to 60 mph in under 5 seconds, and it also comes with a quicker-shifting performance transmission.

GLA Gas Mileage: Likely Good

According to the EPA, the base model GLA250 with front-wheel drive gets 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Opting for all-wheel drive drops those estimates to 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The performance-oriented AMG GLA gets an estimated 22/28 mpg city/highway.

Among the handful of SUVs in the luxury subcompact class, fuel efficiency numbers are fairly close. The BMW X1 is rated at 23/32 mpg city/highway, while the Audi Q3 rounds out the bottom of the class with 20/28 mpg city/highway. You won’t lose many mpg by going with the larger Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV, as it gets 22/28 mpg city/highway.

GLA Ride and Handling: Sporty but Stiff

The strongest part of the GLA’s performance is its handling and driving dynamics. The crossover drives like a smaller car; precise and direct steering makes it easy to point the GLA exactly where you want it to go.

As with many sporty vehicles, the trade-off for performance is uncomfortable ride quality at times. The GLA’s stiff suspension causes it to ride roughly over uneven pavement, and most bumps or shocks from the road are transmitted into the cabin. 

Read more about performance »

GLA Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLA Reliable?

The 2018 GLA receives an above-average reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Warranty

Mercedes backs the GLA and all of its vehicles with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty. That's the same coverage that the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 receive.

Read more about reliability »

GLA Safety

GLA Crash Test Results

The 2018 Mercedes GLA has not yet undergone any crash testing. In fact, many luxury vehicles never do. Some of the GLA’s rivals do have safety scores, however. The BMW X1 earns the top rating of Good in all five crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Mercedes-Benz GLC earned a score of Good in all IIHS tests administered, and it was named a Top Safety Pick + (the agency’s highest honor).

GLA Safety Features

The GLA is one of the class leaders in advanced safety technologies. A rearview camera is newly standard for 2018. Other standard features in the GLA include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and a driver drowsiness monitor. This system follows your driving inputs and behavior. It can suggest that you take a break from driving if it detects that you're tired or otherwise unfocused.

There are several other driver assistance features available, including blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera and an automatic parking function. These functions can do everything from warn you if you stray out of your lane, to gently steer you where you need to be, as well as match the cruising speed of the car in front of you. A 360-degree camera gives you a top-down view of the car to help with limited-visibility areas. Additionally, the Parking Pilot automatic park assist measures suitable parking spots and can steer and brake the car into the spot for you.

Read more about safety »

Which Mercedes-Benz GLA Model Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA comes in two main trim levels: the base GLA250 and the AMG GLA 45. The GLA250 4Matic is the all-wheel-drive version of the standard model. Standard features are plentiful, including an infotainment system and automatic braking, so you could stick with a base model and still have a well-equipped luxury crossover. One option you’ll definitely want to get is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, which is a great deal at $350.

For $2,300, you can get AMG sport styling with body pieces, AMG wheels, and upgraded brakes. A panoramic moonroof costs $1,480, and LED headlights and taillights are available for $850. If you want leather seats, you'll have to purchase the $1,700 Interior package, which also includes sport front seats and ambient cabin lighting. The $1,800 Premium package includes blind spot monitoring, proximity-key entry, heated front seats, and satellite radio. $2,300 will get you the Multimedia package, which comes with navigation, voice command activation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. Those smartphone integration features are available by themselves for $350, and other individual options include navigation ($625), heated front seats ($580), proximity-key entry ($550), and a Harman Kardon premium sound system ($850).

Several driver assistance and advanced safety technologies are also available. A Driver Assistance package of lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control costs $1,500. You can also get the $1,400 Parking Assist package, which includes a 360-degree camera and automatic parking function.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

The standard Mercedes GLA starts at $33,400 and comes with leatherette seating, a 14-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, HD Radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, remote start, an infotainment system with an 8-inch display, a rearview camera, push-button start, rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic emergency braking, and a driver drowsiness monitor.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic

The GLA 4Matic ($35,400) retains the same features and options availability as the base model, while adding a few upgrades related to the added all-wheel-drive system. These include downhill speed regulation, an off-road drive mode, and an off-road driving display.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45

The high-performance Mercedes-AMG GLA retails for $50,600. Its upgrades over the standard GLA include a 375-horsepower engine, a quicker-shifting transmission, all-wheel drive, paddle shifters, a sport suspension, a sport exhaust, and performance brakes.

There are a few appearance and styling packages available, and you can option many of the same features and amenities like you can for a regular GLA. If you want to increase the AMG GLA's performance even further, go with the $2,800 Dynamic Plus package. It comes with a race/track driving mode, a higher top speed, limited-slip differential, and an adjustable sport suspension.

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 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA offers sporty handling for an SUV. It’s a good value thanks to its numerous standard features and easy-to-add options. However, unimpressive acceleration, a small back seat, and below-average cargo space work against the GLA.

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

  • "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
  • "In all the revised GLA250 is a very pleasant and useful small SUV that, equipped properly, can also perform remarkable feats off-road. And the AMG GLA45 is one of our new favorites – agile, powerful and good-looking – an unexpected sports car." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As well as style and luxury in a compact and (relatively) affordable package, the GLA comes with gutsy yet fuel-efficient turbocharged engines. Although its modest exterior dimensions and consequent interior space mean the GLA is really more of a high-riding hatchback than a proper SUV, that's no bad thing." -- Autotrader (2017)
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