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2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA Review (+Video) on Everyman Driver

Since its debut in 2015, the Mercedes-Benz GLA has been a popular, sporty choice in the competitive subcompact luxury SUV segment. A 2021 redesign thoroughly modernizes the GLA, bringing its styling in line with competitors and giving owners more power and quicker acceleration. The second-gen GLA still offers good fuel economy, nimble handling, and an easy-to-use infotainment system (now with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto).

Pros

Sporty character and agile handling; Spacious interior in a small package; Many standard and available features; GLA 250’s excellent fuel economy

Cons

Not as comfort-focused as some competitors; Infotainment touchpad takes some practice

What’s New: The subcompact GLA gets a long-awaited redesign; New engine, paddle-shifting transmission; Apple CarPlay, Android Auto now standard

Drivers can choose between two trim levels — the GLA 250 and the race-inspired AMG GLA 35. All-wheel-drive is optional on the GLA 250 model and standard on the AMG trim.

Even though it is the lower-priced of the two models, the GLA 250 still comes with a generous list of standard features (it is still a Mercedes-Benz, after all).

Starting around $36,500, the small Mercedes comes with exterior features like 18-inch alloy wheels, run-flat tires, tinted windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a power liftgate, fully automatic LED headlamps, LED tail lights, power heated side mirrors, and a rear window wiper with defroster. Interior amenities include 8-way power front seats with memory settings, leatherette seating surfaces, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench seat with manual reclining, a trip computer, remote keyless entry, push-button start, front and rear cupholders, dual-zone climate control, a cargo cover, three 12V DC power outlets, air filtration, and a remote engine starter.

The GLA has standard safety and tech like blind-spot monitoring, a backup camera, digital gauge cluster, automatic emergency braking, a child seat sensor, a 7-inch infotainment display, four USB ports, voice control with ‘Hey Mercedes’ activation, HD Radio, eight audio speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity.

With an MSRP of about $48,000, the more potent AMG GLA 35 comes with many driver-focused upgrades and promises more speed. It features a powerful engine, a dual-clutch automatic transmission programmed by in-house tuner AMG, dynamic driving mode selector, 3-stage active-damping technology, sporty 19-inch wheels, aerodynamic exterior accents, and more.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that uses a turbocharger to produce 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It is linked to a front-wheel-drive system (AWD is available) and a slick-shifting automatic transmission. Other technical features include 4-wheel disc brakes, a 14.8-gallon fuel tank, a multi-link rear suspension (struts in front), and an EPA estimated 25/34/28 mpg city/highway/combined.

The AMG GLA 35 uses a similar 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder turbo, but this one has been enhanced by AMG to produce 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel-drive and a dual-clutch automatic transmission come standard, as does a sport suspension. The AMG GLA 35 features AMG RIDE CONTROL technology, which can adjust each wheel’s damping within milliseconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy of around 23/29 mpg city/highway.

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