Mercedes; 2021 GLA250 4Matic SUV combines quality build, utility and comfort, all at a reasonable price
If you’ve always wanted a Mercedes Benz for their fine Germany quality and build, but they were a bit out of your budget, Benz has an answer.
Their revised second generation GLA 250 AWD SUV is a most affordable and attractive Benz. Plus, it combines, comfort, utility and all-weather traction abilities. It also exudes a sporty look and is very maneuverable as the model is about a half-inch shorter and 1.2 inches wider than the former GLA. It also boasts more headroom as the roof was lifted almost 4 inches, providing ample headroom for even tall folks.
The GLA 250 is offered in FWD and AWD (4Matic), the latter a necessity here in the Snowbelt. Mercedes’ 4Matic worked flawlessly in the recent snow storm we had during my weeklong test in this enjoyable SUV. However, with 5.3 inches of ground clearance, the GLA 250 is mainly suited for mild off-roads.
GLA 250’s interior is gorgeous. Dark grey heated/cooled nicely supportive leather front seats in the test car were accented with orange stitching and enhanced with soft sueded seat inserts.
What really catches the eyes is the twin 10.25-inch digital displays that appear as one long 24.5-inch display as it includes the gauge cluster. A nifty design Mercedes engineers were able to integrate. The display includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity among other apps, features and functions.
Then there’s the racy flat-bottomed steering wheel that adds even more sportiness in addition to faux carbon fiber trim on dash and doors. It’s an eclectic work of art.
Upon my first time slipping into the posh interior and pushing the keyless ignition button, I then hunted for the 8-speed automatic transmission’s gear shift. Wow, what a surprise. It’s contained in a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel where windshield wiper stalks would commonly be. In the 60s, that stalk would be for both manual and automatic transmission shifters, like the manual shift ’62 Plymouth in my high school driving-training car.
In place of a typical console mounted shifter, a controller takes its place that selects various display functions. It’s surrounded by auxiliary control switches, one of which offers driver selectable modes of Individual, Sport, Comfort and Eco. Selected modes display on the screen as does audio, rear and front view cameras, apps, infotainment and more, along with voice control. As such, an intense study of the owners’ manual is required for the many functions and amenities the GLA offers. Mercedes also included a wireless phone charger.
A mere 18-inch step-in into the rear seats offers a generous amount of headroom and appreciable legroom for two adults or three youngsters. A flat and low-profile transaxle hump allows a youngster space for their feet.
With the front seats upright, the 15.4 cubic foot cargo area measures 31 inches deep, 42 wide and 29.5 high. Flip the rear seatbacks and capacity expands to 50.5 cubic feet (formerly 43.6 in earlier models) that offers 61 inches of cargo loading depth. Lift over into the cargo area is a low 27 inches.
Shod with Dunlop 19-inch all-weather tires combined with a coil spring damping suspension provides a solid and comfy ride. Handling exudes a sporty feel that allows quick defensive driving maneuvers and it parks easily in a tight 38.8 foot turning radius.
Power wise, the CLA 250 had a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder nestled under the hood. It generates 221-hp and 258 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of an impressive 24 city, 33-highway mpg. Standing stop acceleration is robust while highway passing power is more linear. It’s been independently 0-60 timed at 6.6 seconds. The engine, like many 4-cylinder’s, is a bit noisy outside the car, but quiet when inside.
GLA is also offered in 35 and 45 model versions. The GLA 35 has a more potent engine offering 302-hp while the GLA 45’s AMG powerplant produces 382-hp.
The only qualms we had with the CLA 250 was it didn’t have an engine start/stop switch nor heated steering wheel.
Price wise and with a very long list of standard features, it carried a base price of $38,230. But options are pricey and included such niceties as multi-function leather covered steering wheel ($360); panoramic sunroof ($1,500); adjustable damping suspension ($990); Sirius radio ($460); heated front seats ($500); 64 color interior ambient lighting ($310); wireless phone charger ($200); USB adapter cable ($25); Multimedia Media package w/navigation ($1,295); Night package color scheme ($400); AMG body style package ($2,240); Premium package w/10.25-inch display, power folding outside mirrors, KEYLESS Go package ($1,750) plus delivery ($1,050), took the bottom line to $49,310. A number of the above features are standard in many SUVs, but are most likely embedded in the base price. If you can do without some of these goodies, the bottom line can be shaved somewhat.
Overall, the CLA 250 4Matic is an outstanding SUV in a highly competitive market. But it’s a Benz, so how could you go wrong?