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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader February 2017

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is the smallest crossover to wear the three-pointed star. 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.

The GLA offers flexibility with its folding rear seats, then adds a touch of class with a standard power lift gate. It's also rewarding to drive, particularly in AMG GLA45 form, and its 4Matic all-wheel drive-system makes it a solid choice for those who live in the Snowbelt. The GLA is based on the same platform as the CLA-Class sedan.

What's New for 2017?

New Convenience and AMG Dinamica packages join the options list. The instrument cluster has been ever-so-subtly redesigned. The touchscreen (which looks a little like a tablet attached to the dashboard) now measures 8 inches diagonally, whereas last year's was a 7-inch unit. The screen is also thinner. And smartphone integration comes in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

What We Like

Fun drive; decent fuel economy; easy to park; upscale ambiance.

What We Don't

Limited cargo capacity; some subpar cabin materials; firm ride; relatively noisy for a Benz.

How Much?

$33,775 to $50,825

Fuel Economy

The GLA250 uses front-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine rated at 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving.

The GLA250 4Matic uses the same engine, but adds all-wheel drive. Fuel consumption is still respectable at 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.

The AMG GLA45 also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, but this one develops 375 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. It has all-wheel drive as standard. Fuel consumption is 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

All models have a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission (it works just like an automatic), with the GLA45 AMG getting a performance-tuned version with quicker shifts.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class comes in GLA250, GLA250 4Matic and AMG GLA45 versions.

The GLA250 ($33,775) comes standard with 18-in alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power lift gate, chrome roof rails, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, premium vinyl upholstery, power-adjustable front seats with driver's-side memory settings, Adaptive Brake (with hill-start assist and automatic brake drying), a Comand infotainment system with an 8-in display, Bluetooth (phone and audio), and an 8-speaker audio system with HD Radio and a USB port.

The GLA250 4Matic ($35,775) has equipment similar to that of the GLA250, but adds all-wheel drive, an off-road drive mode, an off-road display and downhill speed regulation.

Options include 19-in wheels, upgraded front brakes, an exterior aero kit, bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights, auto-dimming side mirrors, a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, satellite radio, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound system, voice controls, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, a self-parking system, a rearview camera, leather upholstery, sport front seats and premium vinyl dashboard trim.

The new Convenience package comes with a garage door opener, auto-dimming mirrors and a compass.

The AMG GLA45 ($50,825) occupies a different class in performance terms, adding the stronger engine, 19-in wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, sport steering, a sport exhaust, performance brakes, bi-xenon headlights and exterior styling enhancements. It can also be specced with Recaro sport seats, a rear spoiler, a limited-slip front differential, and 20-in wheels. The Dynamic Plus package raises the top speed to 167 mph.

The GLA-Class houses 17.2 cu ft. of cargo capacity behind the rear seats and 43.6 cu ft. with the seats flipped down. Not bad for a hatchback, but not great for a compact crossover.

Safety

All GLA-Class models come standard with anti-lock disc brakes, stability control and eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain). Rear side airbags are optional.

Collision Prevention Assist Plus -- a forward-collision mitigation system that includes automatic braking if an impact is imminent -- is standard.

The Multimedia package includes a rearview camera. The Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance.

Although the GLA-Class hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), it has performed exceptionally well in European tests.

Behind the Wheel

Overall, the GLA has a premium air, but closer inspection reveals some rather uncharacteristic hard plastics on the dashboard, door panels and center console. Everything seems to be put together tightly, though.

Cheaper materials make sense considering the GLA's comparatively low price. This is an opportunity to get into a Mercedes-Benz crossover for around the same cost as a Volkswagen, so a lot of shoppers will probably be willing to forgive a few below-par surfaces.

They should also be able to live with the limited interior space. The front seats offer pleasantly firm support and ample adjustability, but rear legroom depends on who's sitting in front. If the driver has long legs, an adult passenger behind is going to be cramped. With shorter folks up front, the back seat is fine for adults.

The driving experience is sharp and eager. The base 208-hp engine has plenty of punch, while the quick steering and firm suspension provide athletic handling in tight corners. On the flip side, the suspension isn't so compliant on rough roads. Anyone expecting a typical Mercedes-Benz ride might be disappointed. Noise levels at speed are also higher than the luxury-class norm. The AMG GLA45 brings sports-car acceleration and more entertaining handling, but comes at a steep price. For most drivers, the GLA250 will be more than adequate.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Audi Q3 -- The Q3 is a chief rival, offering similar turbocharged power and all-wheel-drive traction. It has the edge in interior quality, but the GLA is more fun.

2017 BMW X1 -- Roomier than the GLA and has superb driving talents.

2017 Lexus NX -- Enjoys the usual Lexus build quality and excellent equipment.

2017 Volkswagen Golf R -- Comes with nearly 300 hp and all-wheel drive. A cheaper alternative to a GLA45 that's still upscale and seriously quick.

Used BMW X3 -- More space and a highlight of its class. Check out a certified pre-owned (CPO) example with a reassuring warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

Although the AMG version is undoubtedly fun, there's nothing wrong with the regular GLA. It's more affordable and offers a well-rounded package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader