New 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV New 2018
Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV

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KBB Editor's Overview

By KBB.com Editorial Staff

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 is the smallest and most affordable SUV in the German automaker's lineup, slotting below the GLC. The GLA is among a wave of entry-level luxury-crossover SUVs such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Infiniti QX30 that have struck a chord with buyers thanks to their relative affordability, premium amenities, SUV-like utility and higher seating position. Like those rivals, the GLA looks more akin to a stylish, taller hatchback than a traditional SUV, but this baby Mercedes is agile and does offer all-wheel drive and even an off-road package for venturing off-pavement. The GLA250 also has a look-alike, the hotted-up AMG GLA45 with 375 horsepower and race-carlike reflexes. (See separate review.)

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You'll Like This SUV If...

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.

You May Not Like This SUV If...

While the GLA's starting price of just over $34,000 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.

What's New for 2018

Mercedes freshened the GLA for 2018 with new front and rear treatments, and an interior update that includes a larger 8-inch high-res center screen. The standard power tailgate gets a hands-free open/close option, and Android Auto support joins Apple CarPlay phone integration.

Driving It

Driving Impressions

The GLA's tidy size makes it a friend in cities and urban environments, where its easy-to-park manners and maneuverability help it slither through congestion. It's in traffic and in-town driving where you'll notice its start/stop feature, which cuts engine power at idle. Restarts aren't too jarring, but noticeable all the same. You can defeat it with the press of a button. On the highway and at higher speeds, the GLA can feel a bit twitchy -- another consequence of its smaller size and wheelbase. With a 0-60-mph time of just over seven seconds, the GLA isn't slow but also doesn't feel particularly fast. Some turbo lag can be felt, especially when you floor it from a rolling stop. We also wished for a touch more refinement from the 7-speed twin-clutch automatic. Driven with gusto in the twisties, the little GLA feels planted and holds its own.

Favorite Features

AUTONOMOUS BRAKING
More than ever, we live in an era of automotive distraction. That makes automatic emergency braking systems such as the GLA's Active Brake Assist all the more relevant -- and potentially life-saving. If a collision appears imminent, the car will alert you. If you fail to brake, it ultimately will.

ELECTRONIC BRAKE HOLD
If you seem to spend more time stopping than going, you'll likely embrace this feature. A press of a button applies the brake for you when you're at a stoplight. This enables you to take your foot off the pedal to relax, plus be able to instantly hit the accelerator pedal.

Vehicle Details

Interior

The GLA's 2-row/5-passenger cabin is a pretty cozy cocoon. As its small proportions would suggest, passenger space is at premium in back, where legroom comes up short. The same can be said for storage nooks up front, though we always felt comfortable in the multi-adjustable driver's seat. The layout below the standard 8-inch center display is starting to look a little tired, but the buttons are easy to see and use. The elegant air vents remind you that you're in a Mercedes luxury vehicle. The GLA's cargo space of 17.2 cubic feet with rear seats up expands to 43.6 with them folded.

Exterior

The GLA may be classified as an SUV, but it's no traditional slab-sided ute. This little Mercedes crossover SUV combines traits of a hot hatchback with the higher ride height of a sport-utility vehicle. If you want more ruggedness, the Off-Road Package raises the body over an inch in addition to adding modified ride settings. Truth be told, we're not crazy about the 2018 GLA's lower front lip, which to us looks like a catfish crossed with a sad-face emoji. You can turn the frown around with either the AMG Line or Night package, both of which substitute a tauter, skidplate-style treatment.

Notable Standard Equipment

The least expensive GLA is still a Mercedes, so it has a lot of nice features, such as 14-way power-adjustable driver's seat, power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, automatic brake hold, and 8-inch central display with rearview camera. The standard audio/infotainment consists of AM/FM/CD/HD Radio with dual USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, but you'll have to pay an extra $350 for CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Safety features range from the Attention Assist system monitoring for signs of drowsiness to autonomous emergency braking. In addition to all-wheel drive, GLA 4Matic models add an off-road mode to the Eco, Comfort and Sport drive modes.

Notable Optional Equipment

Genuine leather in place of the faux MB-Tex stuff is worthy of your attention, as is blind-spot monitoring, hands-free tailgate, heated front seats, panoramic roof, navigation and universal garage-door opener. Many of these goodies are bundled in packages. The Driver Assistance Package combines active cruise control and lane-keep assist, while the Park Assist Package has a surround-view camera, power-folding mirrors and Parking Pilot, which assists with parallel parking. A harman/kardon premium audio system is available, as is in-car 4G LTE Wi-Fi and the mbrace Connect service that lets you lock, start and perform other functions via your phone.

Under the Hood

The GLA250 uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is tied to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. With 0-60-mph times of 7.2 seconds for front-wheel drive (FWD) models and 7.1 for all-wheel drive (AWD), neither will set the road on fire but they still get the job done. The Sport mode calibrates the vehicle for quicker responses, and there are shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel for those times you want to play the part of F1 racer. As previously mentioned, it's perfectly normal for the engine to shut off at stoplights. The Mercedes does it to save fuel and cut emissions. Called Eco Start/Stop, the system can be disabled. Note that the GLA likes to drink premium unleaded gasoline.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (FWD), 23/31 mpg (AWD)

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Pricing Notes

With a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $34,395, the GLA250 is Mercedes' second-least-expensive vehicle behind the CLA compact sedan, which comes in $700 less. In all-wheel-drive 4Matic form, the GLA begins at $36,395. These are certainly tantalizing prices for a German luxury vehicle, but keep in mind options can force prices up. A loaded GLA can eclipse $50,000. At these prices, the 2018 Mercedes GLA starts slightly above the Q3 and Lincoln MKC, and a hair beneath the BMW X1. Also starting higher is the Lexus NX, though the Lexus is larger, nearly the size of a GLC. The Infiniti QX30, which shares a platform with the GLA, is several thousand less. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The GLA's resale value is expected to hold up quite well, falling just short of the Audi Q3's.

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