Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Might Not Be as Big a Failure

When the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-class landed, it was the smallest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz stable. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that there was nothing of the luxury you expect from owning a Mercedes-Benz

What went wrong with the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-class? Will the 2021 models be an improvement?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-class

When the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-class came out, many across the industry found it underwhelming. The small SUV, according to Car and Driver, felt more like “a hatchback” than its competition. Yes, it’s the smallest Mercedes-Benz SUV, but that’s not what did it in.

Its design is refined and visually-appealing. It just falls short of what auto enthusiasts would expect from a Mercedes-Benz. The materials used aren’t the brand’s usual level of opulence, and several of the tech features it offers haven’t been updated in some time. 

The interior of the GLA-class was small and uncomfortable for starters. There’s room in the front for two adults but in the rear? The lack of both head and legroom sends it to the back of its class. If you have smaller kids, you’ll be fine. But it’s probably not the vehicle you want to take on a road trip with adults in the front and the back. The cargo space offered is the worst in the segment too.

The GLA-class handles well. The powertrain is decent, but there’s body roll in the corners because it’s a higher ride. When you push it in this SUV, you remember you’re not in a sports car. The firm suspension can make for an uncomfortable ride on less-than-perfect roads. The precise steering, however, keeps it from being a total loss.

The 2021 models will be better

According to Motor Trend, the 2021 models will right many of the wrongs from the 2020 GLA-Class.  

The brand made significant changes to the GLA-class for 2021. Motor Trend finds it’s more like a smaller GLE-class than the hatchback that the 2020 models called to mind. While the 2021 models of the GLA-class are shorter in total length, they offer more head and legroom in the rear than the previous models. 

The 2021 models will be available in both front and all-wheel-drive setups. It offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gets 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The updated suspension has more aluminum elements that will make for better handling and improved comfort for the ride.

There’s a new sport setting for the stability control system. Sport+ will go to the GLA 35 models along with the individual drive modes. The GLA 35 doesn’t get the off-road mode that will be standard on GLA 250s with all-wheel-drive. There are improved rear brake pads for greater stopping power and a new uniquely-tuned steering system. 

On sale this summer

The much-anticipated update to the smallest Mercedes-Benz SUV arrives this summer. The new GLA-class fits right in with the latest generation of Mercedes-Benz offerings, which means substantial change. The new models are taller and more like an SUV than a crossover, according to Edmunds. It doesn’t have to pretend it’s a crossover now that it’s no longer “off-road,” and that’s a good thing. 

Based on the current A-Class sedan, the second generation GLA-class boosts both quality and technology features. And by that, we mean all the Mercedes’ newest tech features, according to Edmunds. It will offer the MBUX infotainment system with two available 10.25-inch screens. The “Hey, Mercedes” assistant is also available, along with an assortment of advanced driver-assist features and reliable safety features.

The update to the most affordable Mercedes-Benz SUV is a welcome one. The new 2021 models will offer the design, sophistication, and technology missing in the previous models. Many will feel that the GLA-class is now worthy of the Mercedes-Benz brand. It now looks and functions more like a luxury SUV with greater comfort and practicality.

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