The Mercedes Benz GLA is a subcompact crossover/SUV based on the A-Class platform that aims to satisfy both SUV buyers and hatchback buyers. The CLA is also based on the A-Class platform but it represents a sportier, more youthful, and more stylish approach that aims to satisfy both sedan and coupe buyers.
These two are almost identical from the inside while being worlds apart from the outside. The GLA is more practical, more desirable, cheaper and it offers a raised-up driving position that can even tackle mild off-roading. The CLA on the other hand is a lot more focused, more dynamic, more striking, and easily the better looking of the two.
If you are a family man, the GLA is miles better. However, if you enjoy spirited driving and are willing to sacrifice practicality for style, the CLA is the one to go. Both of these use the same engines, same platforms, and identical interiors.
However, the CLA looks more expensive and is the more fun option of the two. On the other hand, if you want a better all-around car that can suit more people and is superior in most instances, the GLA is the one to get.
Mercedes Benz GLA-Class – The utility, practicality, and desirability champion
For a starting price of $36,400, you are getting a slightly raised driving position, better visibility, more space, and a more desirable body shape. This makes the GLA seem like it ticks more boxes when compared to the CLA, and it is truly the case.
The GLA bests the CLA mostly in the utilitarian department because it is a lot easier to get in and out of which is beneficial for older drivers. The higher driving position makes it easy to see out of the GLA which greatly simplifies parking and maneuvering in tight spaces.
The GLA is also able to tackle unpaved and muddy roads a lot better when compared to the CLA because the ground clearance is significantly higher. If you are a family man and you often transport multiple people in your car, the GLA is a no-brainer as the rear seat space is a lot more accommodating than the one found in the CLA.
Finally, most people these days prefer SUVs over sedans and coupes, and the number of GLA models sold each year is a lot higher than the number of CLA models sold.
Mercedes Benz CLA – The driving, style, and refinement champion
The Mercedes Benz CLA starts at $38,200 which makes it a bit more expensive than the GLA. However, the CLA does look a lot more expensive than the GLA, especially if equipped with the AMG package. The CLA is a far more youthful-looking automobile as well because it is lower to the ground and it offers a classic Mercedes 4-door coupe silhouette.
The CLA looks way more refined and more expensive, but it does not gather nearly as much interest as the GLA. Furthermore, the CLA is one of the least practical Mercedes cars money can buy these days. The visibility is far from perfect and the CLA is a lot lower to the ground which could potentially be a red flag for some.
Owning a CLA is more difficult on a daily basis because you will not be able to park it as easily as the GLA, but the difference here is that every time you get out of the car you are far more likely to turn around and look at the CLA. The GLA looks bland and way too basic, and some even argue that it looks cheap in comparison.
Where the CLA is leagues and bounds better than the GLA is the driving experience because it is a lot more dynamic, more comfortable, quieter, and has better handling. The only driving aspect where the GLA takes it is mild off-roading and stop-and-go traffic due to increased visibility.
Mercedes Benz CLA AMG vs Mercedes Benz GLA AMG
Mercedes AMG department is focused on designing and making the most dynamic Mercedes models money can buy. This is where the CLA and the GLA separate quite a bit. Both the 35 AMG and the 45 AMG versions cost the same between both of these, but one of them is a better AMG than the other, and that’s the CLA.
A sporty coupe sedan is always going to be a better performance car than a crossover/SUV because the GLA makes little to no sense as a performance car. The center of gravity is way too high and it makes the GLA roll quite a bit.
The CLA AMG stays planted all the time and it can virtually drive circles around the GLA AMG as far as performance driving is concerned.
Is the CLA more efficient than the GLA?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the CLA should be a more efficient car thanks to its slippery silhouette, but the reality is that both of these are equally as efficient. Urban driving should do around 22-23MPG, highway driving is rated at 29MPG and the combined MPG results are 25MPG for both the CLA and the GLA.
This means that they are also identical when it comes to CO2 emissions as well because they use the very same engines. However, depending on your driving style, you are much more likely to use less fuel with the CLA if you know what you are doing.
Is the GLA safer than the CLA?
Most people believe that an SUV is always going to be a lot safer than a sedan no matter the size, but it seems like both of these are identical in this instance as well. All leading crash testing organizations have awarded both of these with a stellar 5-star rating.
However, it’s worth mentioning that these don’t come with all the necessary safety options from the factory which means that you will have to pay more if you want superior safety credentials.
Is the GLA more reliable than the CLA?
Both of these are designed and built on the same chassis which means that they should be equally as reliable. According to J.D. Power, both the CLA and the GLA are identical with a score of 73/100 which makes them above average reliable.
This is a stark contrast when compared to older GLA and CLA models which were rather unworthy of the Mercedes premium badge both because they were prone to issues and because they felt cheap.