2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Reviews

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 is a solid crossover entry point into the luxury German brand.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is the smallest crossover in the automaker’s lineup and has been since it was introduced in 2015. The design of the GLA has aged well, even as competitors have outperformed it and offered better standard equipment. For the freshest take on the smallest Benz crossover SUV, check out the redesigned 2021

Without an AMG model for 2020, the GLA is stripped to its basics and feels pretty basic. Still, the entry-level crossover for the German luxury marque earns a 5.4 out of 10, thanks to decent fuel economy, sporty handling, and a pretty good value starting just over $35,000. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The GLA250 uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic churning out 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 rpm. While all-wheel-drive models hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, the standout performance feature of any GLA is its hatchback-like handling.  All-wheel drive should be the choice for drivers who deal with weather, and it provides some modest off-roading confidence on dirt paths, for instance. 

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Inside, the 14-way power front seats make customization easy to the wide buffet of American sizes, but rear seat leg room in the GLA250 is among the worst in the class. Better to use the split-folding rear seats to expand to more than 43 cubic feet of cargo space. 

The 2020 GLA comes with automatic emergency braking standard, and optional safety tech such as active lane control and adaptive cruise control. Neither the IIHS or the NHTSA has crash-tested the GLA, despite it being on sale for more than five years. 

Standard equipment includes power tailgate, keyless ignition, Bluetooth connectivity, and 18-inch wheels. Leather seats and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are extra. Starting at $35,245 (including $995 destination) we’d add the $2,000 AWD system and the $1,900 Premium package with heated front seats and blind-spot monitors to stay under $40,000 and retain the value proposition of this beginner Benz.

The GLA is more well-equipped hatchback than luxury crossover SUV.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA rides on higher suspension and sports a slightly taller hatchback body style than the CLA sedan. It looks more proportional than the rising belt lines and bulky rear ends of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. We give the GLA a 6 out of 10 for styling.

Despite its short height, the GLA packs in sporty cues with short overhangs, a raked front windshield, and 18-inch wheels. The three-pointed star dominating the grille might be the most Mercedes thing about this entry-level small crossover. The GLA has been redesigned for 2021, but the 2020 model wears its age well and can most likely be had for a better deal than the fresher 2021.  

The GLA’s cockpit carries over with a handsome if somewhat dated design that mounts the 8.0-inch infotainment screen as a tombstone on the dash. The aviation-inspired circular vents are still a winner, but the number-happy entertainment controls and some of the lower dash pieces feel like budget barrell plastic you wouldn’t expect with the brand. Leather seats are extra, as are more distinctive trim pieces.

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With no AMG version of the GLA for 2020, this basic Benz still performs well for the price point.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA uses an ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbo-4 to offer plenty of fun for less than $40,000. 

With a 0-60 mph time of 7.1 seconds (7.2 in front-wheel drive), the 2020 GLA250 earns a 6 out of 10 for performance. 

Paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the turbo-4 makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,250 rpm. Use Sport mode to optimize the offering. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the GLA sends most of its torque to the front wheels, with the ability to split power between the front and rear when more traction is needed.

Not only does the GLA 4Matic split torque front and rear, it also adds 1.2 inches more ground clearance, which Mercedes’ lists as 5.3 inches under max load. Most Subarus get 8.7 inches, for comparison. Hill-descent control and other features help it off pavement, but without some extra skid plates or off-road tires on the 18-inch wheels, we wouldn’t take it on anything more daring than a dirt path. 

Despite a crossover body, the GLA is a competent handler, proving spry in the corners. But those stiff springs and standard wheels can make cruising louder than expected.

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The base GLA is barely qualified to carry the Mercedes-Benz pedigree.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA is suited for young urban couples or empty nesters who use the cargo area for stuff more often than passengers. 

Standard 14-way front power-adjustable seats help get the GLA to 5 out of 10 on our scale, but we deduct a point for cramped rear seats. 

The front seats can be snug, due to aggressive bolsters and firm cushions, but the 14-way power adjustments creates a throne befitting any royal’s haunches. 

At less than 34 inches of rear leg room, the GLA is nearly three inches tighter than a Honda Civic hatchback, but head room in the Benz is a bit better. Either way, rear-seat passengers will only want to ride behind shorter drivers.  

Cargo space increases from a paltry 17 cubic feet to 43.6 cubic feet with the split-folding rear seats made flat. That’s roomy enough for road tripping—for two. 

The GLA is a compromise. It has the options and aspirations of a Mercedes-Benz, but the hard plastic trim pieces and noisier optional summer tires will remind most occupants that this is the most basic Benz in the lineup.

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The GLA has not been tested by the IIHS or NHTSA for crash safety.

Neither federal nor independent agencies have crash-tested the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. We can’t assign an accurate safety score until those tests occur.

The GLA comes standard with automatic emergency braking, but most of the advanced safety tech is extra, including all-wheel drive and a surround-view camera system essential to see behind the tight corners of the hatch-like rear. 

The options list includes LED headlights, active lane control and adaptive cruise control ($1,500 Driver Assist package), and a parking helper.

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The entry-level 2020 GLA lacks the standard luxury features you’d expect from MB, but it is well-equipped for the price.

With no AMG model for 2020, the GLA exposes itself as an entry-level model in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Luxury touchstones such as leather seats are extra, but there are still plenty of standard and optional features to feel the Mercedes’ touch. 

We rate the GLA 6 out of 10 in this category, but since this is the end of the first generation GLA, shoppers looking for the latest tech and freshest features should check out the redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Every version of the GLA comes with 14-way power front memory seats, dual-zone climate, 8.0-inch display screen, power tailgate, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, and 18-inch wheels at a starting price of $35,245 (including $995 destination). 

All-wheel drive is optional ($2,000 more) and Mercedes-Benz is one of the last automakers to still charge for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility ($350). Adding the Multimedia package ($2,300), which includes CarPlay and Android Auto, and heated front seats ($580) gets the price to $40,000.

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