The smallest Mercedes SUV is the GLA. The GLA starts at around $36k and offers every bit of the Mercedes experience, even in the smallest model in the Mercedes SUV line-up.
The SUV trend is starting to take over the world, especially the U.S., where most new cars sold are SUVs. Mercedes has managed to offer a competitive model in the smallest SUV segment. The newly released GLA is the second much-improved generation, and Mercedes managed to sell as many as 25k of these in the U.S. in 2020.
Regular GLA models
The GLA range kicks off with the $36k GLA 250, a front-wheel-drive small SUV powered by a 2.0-liter inline 4 turbocharged engine, offering 221hp and 258 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm. This model manages to return a decent 25MPG US fuel efficiency, mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The next model in the range is the GLA 250 4MATIC that costs $38k. This model is offered with a four-wheel-drive system and the rest of the powertrain is the same as the aforementioned GLA250, with a slightly less favorable 24MPG US.
The GLA is offered with a variety of options and packages, the most popular of them being the AMG package that costs $2600 and offers a more stylish exterior and a better-looking interior with sports seats and a sport AMG steering wheel.
Some packages like the Premium package, which costs $1750, offer an upgraded multimedia system with larger displays, power-folding mirrors, hands-free and keyless access.
GLA AMG models
If you think that the regular GLA model is rather dull and slow, you can always opt for one of the sporty AMG versions that offer an abundance of sporty options and packages with an upgraded powertrain as well.
The AMG range kicks off with the GLA 35 AMG that costs $47,550 and is offered with an AMG-enhanced 2.0-liter inline 4 turbocharged engine mated with an 8-speed AMG Speedshift gearbox with 302hp and 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,000 rpm. The GLA 35 is able to sprint 0-60 in around 5 seconds with a decent 23MPG US.
The top-of-the-line GLA is the AMG 45 that costs around $54,500. This model is the all singing, all dancing GLA that manages to offer the highest level of performance, as far as small Mercedes SUVs are concerned. This model offers a handcrafted 2-liter turbocharged engine with 382hp and 354 lb-ft @ 4,750-5,000 rpm.
The 45 AMG also comes with the 8-speed Speedshift AMG gearbox and a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds. This version of the GLA is also able to send as much as 100% of its power to the rear wheels alone to achieve the sportiest driving characteristics at a less than favorable 20MPG US.
The old GLA vs the new GLA
In 2014, Mercedes decided to enter a new segment by offering the GLA. It was loosely based on the A-class hatchback and didn’t sell all that well as many people thought that the A-class and the first-gen GLA lacked the Mercedes spice.
But in 2020, Mercedes introduced the new GLA. Although it still shared its DNA with the A-class, this time Mercedes took some time in designing it to make it worthy of the three-pointed star. The new GLA shares almost nothing with the old one, and beats the old GLA in every aspect imaginable.
A pre-2016 GLA 250 can be bought for $15-$16k for a decent model, and the price is justifiable. But if you are able to reach deeper in your pockets for the new GLA, you are certainly going to get your money’s worth.
How reliable is the Mercedes GLA?
According to WhatCar, the 2014-2020 Mercedes GLA earns 3 out of 5 stars when it comes to reliability. This model has shown a fair amount of failures and problems, some of them tied to engine and airbag failures which could cost a decent amount to remedy.
The 2021 GLA just came out, and there aren’t many consumer reports to suggest that the reliability of the GLA is questionable. The predictions for the new GLA are a lot more favorable compared to the last-gen model.
Is the new GLA better than the Audi Q3?
The GLA and the Q3 are the two giants of the small SUV segment. Comparing these two is to be expected as most buyers should investigate them both. When it comes to styling, the Q3 wins because the Q3 looks like the top-of-the-line Audi Q8, whereas the GLA looks like the A-class on stilts.
The Audi Q3 starts at around $36k, but is a lot cheaper throughout the range than the GLA. The Mercedes offers a better, more refined transmission compared to the Q3. Both are offered with front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive variants.
The Q3 costs less, but the GLA is more fuel-efficient. As far as interiors go, both of these vehicles offer amazing interiors. So, the question about which one is better lies upon the potential owner. It’s safe to say that both the GLA and Q3 should satisfy even the most demanding of customers.
What’s the best Mercedes SUV to buy?
Currently, Mercedes sells 9 different SUVs for every imaginable purpose. Choosing between such a wide variety of options might seem a bit daunting. But the clear winner of the entire Mercedes SUV line-up is the GLC SUV as it blends the best attributes of a car and a “real” SUV.
The 2021 GLC starts at around $43k and it offers a tempting middle ground between the smaller and the larger Mercedes SUVs. Furthermore, the GLC is also considered one of the most reliable Mercedes SUVs, just like the GLK that came before it.
The GLC is offered as a front-wheel-drive variant and a four-wheel-drive variant. It seems like a tempting family car as well. The GLC is fairly well equipped and can be acquired with most of the Mercedes options.