The 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class SUV is still going strong two years after entering its second generation, winning hearts and minds with its suave styling, upscale cabin, and refined powertrain. It's not the sportiest premium crossover in the USA, with strong contenders like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 making a claim to that throne, but in GLA 250 form, a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four produces more than enough thrust at 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Available with both front- and all-wheel drive, the GLA-Class provides an affordable entry-point to Mercedes SUV ownership, but in its second generation has moved away from being a raised hatchback and transitioned to a more formal luxury crossover offering. Providing all the latest Mercedes-Benz technology with multiple screens and AI-based infotainment controls, the GLA-Class is a consummate all-rounder that raises the standards in the small premium SUV segment.
After being launched as an all-new arrival for the 2021 model year, there are very few changes to the Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV for 2022. The Premium Package has some added value with the addition of SiriusXM satellite radio and a 115-volt outlet. AMG models receive specific updates, but these models are reviewed separately.
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Mercedes-Benz doesn't make clumsy cars; however, the majority of its vehicles are designed with a focus on comfort and compliance. While previously, the additional ride height on the GLA-Class only compensated for the shoddy suspension tuning of the base A-Class platform, the new generation provides an extra layer of plushness in the form of supple suspension, while the ride height merely amplifies the sense of comfort. It's not quite GLE-Class levels of comfort, but at this end of the spectrum, the bumps that do reach the cabin are not unreasonably obtrusive. The exception to this is when speccing any of the larger wheel options, as these add a sharp edge to the GLA's demeanor that isn't backed up by noticeably sharper handling. The ideal setup is the optional adaptive suspension with mid-spec 19-inch wheels.
Regardless, the GLA SUV is fun to drive up to seven-tenths, where the steering is well-weighted but lacks feedback, and where body roll starts to creep into the equation. Below this level, it's smooth, responsive, and unobtrusive, making commutes in the GLA fuss-free journeys.
There are not many contenders in the compact luxury segment, but the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are both capable of giving the Mercedes GLA-Class a run for its money. But no matter how hard they try, these entry-level models struggle to bring the same levels of luxury and sportiness as their larger siblings. With the Mercedes option, you at least get a fair amount of tech and refinement, while the material choices and design elements imitate those of more expensive models very closely. However, you have to pay to play and get the best combinations of tech and luxury. However, the fundamentals are done right, such as a robust engine and a fairly intuitive gearbox. The suspension is a high point for the GLA. No longer does this try to be a high-riding A-Class, but instead, it focuses on being a plush crossover, especially on the smaller wheels.
Inside, it may be a little more cramped than some rivals, but the seats are comfortable, the ergonomics on point, and the levels of customization are high. The base price is almost certainly not what you'll pay, but if you want something that lives up to the luxury badge on its nose without any sporting pretense, you could do worse than the GLA-Class.
Like for like, the X1 is the direct rival to the GLA from German rival BMW. In its current form, it's genuinely spacious on the inside, with over ten more cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats than the Merc supplies. Performance-wise, it's marginally quicker to 60 mph thanks to a few extra ponies, but it also handles sweeter, albeit at the expense of relaxation and ride comfort. While the X1 has more space inside, the GLA does more to make the cabin attractive and comfortable. When you look at the two cars on paper, the X1 seems to make more sense, since it has the slightly better standard tech and more practicality, but once you sit inside them, it's hard to ignore the luxury appeal of the Mercedes. The differences won't be enough to sway fans of either brand away, but for first time-time buyers, we'd recommend the Mercedes GLA-Class.
One size category above the sub-compact GLA, the GLC-Class naturally has more interior and cargo space. However, it is also larger and more composed on the road, more easily smoothing over bumps and abrasions. With 255 horsepower, it has more grunt behind it too, though that isn't its greatest strength. Many of the features left off the GLA are added as standard here, like heated front seats, keyless go, parking sensors, and a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen. In comparison, the GLA feels like a cheaper knockoff, albeit an impressive offering in itself. However, the GLC-Class is just better in every way, and it will cost you close to the same as our recommended build of the GLA.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class SUV: