The 2018 Mercedes Benz GLA-Class is a smart choice if you want a luxury crossover that drives, parks and fuel efficient like a compact sedan. Meanwhile, the high-performance GLA 45 trim is in its own class.
Based on the CLA sedan, the 2018 GLA crossover provides athletic handling and broad smiles on narrow and twisting roads. Most Mercedes is leaning towards power and control, but the GLA a more fun, raucous models in the lineup. Both the GLA 250 and AMG GLA 45 also offer powerful engines, good fuel economy, full comfort and connected technology, and a long list of luxury and safety features.
However, the GLA old weakness has not changed. The ride is still harsher than you would expect from a Mercedes. There isn’t much headroom, legroom, or cargo space. And even though the GLA250 four-cylinder engine sounds strong and works well, the automatic transmission responds slowly to the pedal input, especially in the Eco mode. The AMG GLA 45 has a more responsive transmission along with a large increase in horsepower.
The GLA relatively cheap price doesn’t help the case. Comparable models from Audi, BMW and Lexus, though not much larger or spacious, offer a better level of refinement at the same price or less. Even the Infiniti QX30 offers better ride quality and slightly better transmission tuning. So it’s worth to consider other competitors before making a final decision.
For 2018, the GLA-Class get subtle updates to the front and rear bumpers. A new wheel and gauge cluster design. A rearview camera and an 8-inch display are now standard equipment. LED headlights and Android Auto is now available as an option.
Trim levels and features
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is a subcompact luxury crossover offered in three trim levels: GLA 250, GLA 250 4Matic and AMG GLA 45.
Standard equipment for the GLA 250 includes 18-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, a rearview, three performance driving modes, power-adjustable driver seat, imitation leather upholstery, a 60/40-split folding rear seatback with a center pass-through, Bluetooth, an 8-inch central display with a dial-and-button control array, a six-speaker audio system with two USB ports, a CD player, an SD card reader and HD radio. Certain features of Mercedes’ Mbrace telematics system are available on a subscription basis.
The GLA 250 4Matic adds some all-weather and light off-road capability with hill descent control and an off-road status monitor that analyzes tilt angle, steering angle and grade percentage.
Optional packages are available for the 2018 GLA 250. The Premium package adds keyless entry and ignition, hands-free liftgate open and close, blind-spot monitoring and heated front seats. The Interior package adds ambient cabin lighting, sport seats and leather upholstery. The Multimedia package adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, voice controls, a navigation system, real-time satellite traffic and weather information.
The Driver Assistance package get you adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assist. The Convenience package adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a new Parking Assist package adds a self-parking system and a surround-view camera. The AMG Line Exterior package adds AMG body styling, 19-inch AMG wheels and a black headliner. The Night package further this look with black wheels, trim and side mirror caps.
Stand-alone options include blind-spot monitoring, heated front seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as upgrades that include LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, ambient cabin lighting, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 adds 19-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a sport exhaust, LED headlights and a power passenger seat. The GLA 45 options mostly similar those of the GLA250, but there is a couple of exclusive equipment.
The AMG Dynamic Plus package adds adaptive dampers, a limited-slip differential, a higher top speed and a Race driving mode. The AMG Performance Studio package adds 20-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, body kit, sport seats, and various components trimmed in yellow and black.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power sent to the front wheel through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The GLA 250 4Matic sent it to all four wheel with hill descent control. In performance testing, the GLA 250 4Matic accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, a good performance for this segment. EPA fuel economy rating is quite good at 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway) with the front-wheel-drive and 26 mpg combined (23 city/31 highway) for the 4Matic models
The 2018 AMG GLA 45 increase the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine to outstanding 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft torque. A quicker-shifting version of the seven-speed transmission sends power to all four wheels. The AMG GLA 45 also features a three-mode stability control system that allows drivers to tailor the level of intervention and offers available launch control. In track testing, the AMG GLA 45 launch to 60 mph in just 4.0 seconds with top speed of 167 mph. Estimated fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway).
Both the GLA 250 and the AMG GLA 45 also feature with an automatic stop-start technology, which shut off the engine in order to save fuel.
Like the CLA-Class sedan, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class looks traditional inside. Large analog gauges, clean central-stack design, tight fit and finish give the same luxurious feel as most Mercedes models. However, if you look closely at the material, you can see the GLA falls short not only compared to the more expensive Mercedes siblings but also rivals like the BMW X1 and Lexus NX.
A slightly elevated driving position provides excellent outward visibility, but shallow angles from the tailgate and thick roof pillars impede the rear visibility. Although there are many things that are liked about the front row, the second row is less accommodating and obviously less compared to rivals such as the Acura RDX and BMW X1.
Behind the rear seats, the 2018 GLA-Class offers 14.9 cubic feet of cargo space, among the smallest in this segment. Fold the rear seatback down and you have 43.6 cubic feet, which is less than most rivals. The standard power liftgate is good, but the liftover is set quite high, making it a bit difficult to load heavy objects.
Release Date and Price
Official pricing for the base GLA 250 starts at $34,395 (include destination fee). The GLA 250 4Matic start at $36,395, while the AMG GLA 45 has a price tag of $51,595.