The Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 is the cutest of all the brand’s SUVs.
Mercedes-Benz has 8 different SUV models to choose from, and the newly redesigned and refreshed for 2021 GLA 250 is the smallest—and cutest—in the lineup. It’s perfect for anyone who wants the ride height and handling —including AWD and off-road drive mode—of an SUV, but a more compact sized car.
It can handle whatever road conditions you encounter.
Yes, it has Offroad mode and is all-wheel-drive if you opt for the 4MATIC version. In the US, you can get a front-wheel-drive version, but the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is standard in Canada. Opt for 4MATIC in the US for an additional $2000.
While I wouldn’t take this on any trails more suited for a Rubicon or Defender, I would think this little beauty would be able to handle a forest-service road without any issues, even if that’s not what you buy a Mercedes-Benz SUV for.
In reality, you buy a Mercedes-Benz SUV for luxury, comfort, and usability. The GLA 250 may be more compact, but the ride height feels great for safety and the cargo loading in the rear is still easy to manage for anyone – even with an adjustable height and power liftgate.
What’s new for 2021?
Well, it’s been completely redesigned, so there is a lot new for this model year! Let’s run you through some of the big ones.
1. More powerful engine
All-new for this model year is a 2.0L turbo inline 4-cylinder making more horsepower than previous years. This time, you’ll get 228 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque. The outgoing GLA 250 got 208 horsepower.
Not that the GLA 250 is a speedster by any means, but it feels confident, and I never felt the need for more. I often drive in sport mode, and that itself gave me enough ‘ommph’ for fun driving. Overall, an incredibly confident and comfortable drive experience! Mercedes-Benz gave you exactly what you’d need to get the job done and have a little fun doing it.
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2. More legroom for your rear passengers
Yes! Our kids are growing and the legroom space is important, especially with teenagers, backpacks, gear and friends! Having more space for their legs and floor area for their stuff is important. Less bickering with siblings always helps Mom feel more zen while chauffeuring around town as well.
This was a needed improvement for 2021 and welcomed by all who love a good compact SUV.
3. All-new body Style
I felt like the old GLA 250 looked a little squished down—like they made it taller but then just squeezed it a little to make it shorter. It didn’t quite fit the typically beautiful lines of a Mercedes-Benz.
The 2021 redesign looks fresh, clean, and more well-rounded for a compact SUV. It has gorgeous proportions that, at first glance, tell you everything you need to know: This is going to be a comfortable, spacious ride.
4. Standard 18″ wheels
An important but perhaps boring update is standard 18″ wheels. My test drive was also fitted with winter tires, so I was kind of hoping for snow the week I was in it. Living on the West Coast has its perks with a fairly mild year-round climate, but sometimes we miss the snow in the winter, especially around Christmas time.
Alas—I would have loved to take it for a drive in the snow in off-road mode! The larger wheels were perfect for improving handling and more control at higher speeds.
5. A fully digital cockpit and Mercedes-Benz User Experience system is standard
One of the things I love most about test driving Mercedes-Benz vehicles is their MBUX system, the fully-digital instrument cluster display and the fantastic touchscreen infotainment. It’s all high tech and highly customizable. You can adjust every single element of the instrument cluster display to your preferences, from the colors to the displayed gauges. One long screen panel displays two 7″ standard screens—the infotainment and the instrument cluster. My test drive has the upgraded 10.25″ screens, and I adore this feature so much. It feels neat, clean, and perfect for whatever trip you’re taking.
The ambient lighting in this Mercedes-Benz is also fully customizable to any color or combination you could dream up, and it lights up the entire interior beautifully. This is also one of my favorite features in the new model Mercedes-Benz.
For an entry-level Mercedes-Benz, it has a fully-loaded lineup of advanced Safety features available!
Advanced safety features abound in the GLA 250. It’s custom based on the packages you choose, so you can decide how much to spend here.
Standard safety features include:
- active brake assist
- attention assist
- LED head, tail and fog lamps
- backup camera
- crosswind assist
- 7 airbags
- adaptive braking
- brake assist
- electronic parking brake
- rain-sensing windshield wiper and auto-rear wiper in reverse
- heated windshield washer system.
Optional safety features include multi-beam headlamps and adaptive high-beam assist (Technology package CAD $1600 or Lighting USD $900), blind spot assist, vehicle exit warning, traffic sign assist, active parking assist (CAD $900, USD $1090), active and evasive steering assist, active brake assist, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active emergency braking, 360º camera (CAD $650), pre-safe, lane keeping and lane change assist, speed limit assist, route-based speed adaptation and downhill speed regulation.
I also want to add that the backup camera with 360º view is incredibly clear. It makes it so much easier and safer to pull into or back out of any parking space. I would opt for the 360 camera option without a doubt! Not only is it the perfect backup camera, it also has a front camera so that you can see everything around you as you pull safely out of a parking spot in drive or reverse.
Who is this car for?
I think the GLA 250 is perfect for a small family looking for an entry-level luxury brand SUV. It’s compact enough for easy maneuvering in parking lots, downtown, and an urban lifestyle, yet comfortable enough for a long daily commute or a road trip with the kids.
It would also be perfect for those who just like a higher ride height and perhaps who live in a 4-season climate that may need the all-wheel-drive and off-road capability for heavy winter snowfalls or slick driving conditions.
What does this car cost?
In the US, you can get a front-wheel-drive GLA 250 for a starting price of $36,230 and add an all-wheel-drive 4MATIC for $2,000. In Canada, the starting price is $42,400. As tested, my model had the premium package, technology package, navigation, heated Nappa leather steering wheel, SiriusXM, 360 camera, active parking assist for a total of CAD $50,875 or USD $46,075.
Full disclosure: The Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 was provided for a week by Mercedes-Benz Canada for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.