Mercedes-Benz GLA

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Luxury automakers have to start somewhere when it comes to their ever expanding SUV lineups and Mercedes-Benz begins with the new GLA-class, specifically the GLA250.

Mercedes-Benz GLA Overview

Labeled a "cute-ute" by some, the GLA250 features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It delivers this power through a seven-speed automated manual transmission. A start/stop system helps the GLA conserve fuel by shutting the engine off when the GLA is at a stop. Front-wheel drive is standard and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive system is optional.

While the combination of the letters S-U-V and all-wheel drive might have some ready to try off-roading in the GLA, the all-wheel drive system is more for traveling snow-covered roads or heading to a soccer game than traversing rocky outcroppings or fording rivers.

If you want a sportier experience, there is the GLA45 AMG 4Matic. Also powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, the handmade AMG power plant puts out 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, which Mercedes says translates to a 0-to-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds.

All that power comes with surprisingly good gas mileage. The CLA250 4Matic gets 24 mpg city, 32 highway and 27 combined. Perhaps even more impressive is the AMG version's 23 mpg city, 29 highway and 25 combined.

The GLA competes with subcompact SUVs like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Lexus NX. Its exterior styling is most similar to the Lincoln MKC. However, on the inside, it's definitely a Mercedes. Swathed in premium materials, it's easily identifiable as a Benz.

At 174 inches long, the GLA is 8 inches shorter than the CLA250 sedan. It's also 5 inches shorter than the aforementioned MKC and smaller than most of the competition, save the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. With the rear seats down, the GLA offers 42 cubic feet of cargo space and with all the seats up, just 11.8 cubic feet, which is less than what most small SUVs provide.

Not the roomiest in its class, the GLA attempts to counter that with technology. It features a freestanding 5.8-inch screen in the middle of the dash that acts as a hub for entertainment, navigation and other systems. It features Mercedes' COMAND system, which provides Bluetooth and USB connectivity and allows the user to control many of the vehicle's systems.

Additional standard features include automatic windshield wipers, leatherette upholstery, power-adjustable front seats and a power liftgate. Items like a Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, satellite radio, heated front seats, proximity key with push-button start and a panoramic sunroof are optional.