Culture / Cars

When a Regular SUV Will Not Do — the Reimagined Mercedes-Benz GLA Winks at Convention With Plenty of Perks

A Nimble Retreat of Your Own

BY // 05.20.21

Zipping along the highway, navigating 290 West’s traffic with ease, it does not feel like you’re driving an SUV. You might as well be in a regular Mercedes sedan. Of course, you’re not. This is the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the SUV introduced to bring more people under the German automaker’s tent and grab a chunk of the fastest growing car segment.

The GLA’s come a long way since it first arrived on the scene — and the 2021s are bigger (especially in the rear seats) and snazzier with an infotainment system that can rival the setups of much more expensive rides. You can change your interior ambient lightning to so many different colors that it almost feels like you have access to the whole Crayola box. Syncing your smartphone is almost as easy as laying it on the center console (which will also charge it) and its “Hey Mercedes” voice commands quickly put Siri to shame.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA that I tried out on a weekend for this story came from Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land, the gleaming spot off the Southwest Freeway owned by Ken Enders, a man known for collecting high-end cars, wine and art. Mercedes-Benz GLAs are not close to the most expensive cars sold by the bustling dealership.

These are approachable Mercedes. You’ll turn a few heads here and there, but the GLA mostly fits in. On a trip to College Station’s Century Square development, I had no worries about parking it overnight in a public garage.

This is a Mercedes for those looking for a practically fun ride that brings serious comfort and tech (and a surprising quick pickup) rather than someone who wants to impress the neighbors. Or the regular country club foursome.

Having the ability to go zero to 60 in 6.6 seconds brings more than enough zip to this small SUV. The Mercedes-Benz GLA can get you out of trouble quickly. If you ever need it to.

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Of course, you’re much more likely to use this SUV to get around town or go on road trips like the one I took. On those fronts, the Mercedes-Benz GLA keeps things more than comfortable. In fact, you may suddenly become the guy who wants to wait in the car while someone else in your party runs into the store.

With its striking ambient lighting (what color are you feeling today?), turbine worthy vents and sound system (an upgrade to a Burmester sound system — yes, more German engineering — is available), this is a comfortable car to hang out in. Even if you’re not driving.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA drives like anything but a typical SUV.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA drives like anything but a typical SUV.

When you are back on the highway, you will find that your crossover SUV can handle as smoothly as many sports sedans. The Mercedes-Benz GLA is not an SUV that feels like you’re sacrificing performance for some more room.

With the distinctive 3-point star logo on front and a few more curves than in previous models, you’ll never forget you’re driving a Mercedes when driving the GLA. You may forget you’re driving an SUV.

Depending on if you have anyone in the second row. With the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 starting at $36,230 — and several worthy upgrade packages upping the price somewhat swiftly from there — you’ll be paying for just about the best little SUV with perks galore. But then again, that’s sort of what driving a Mercedes is all about. If you wanted to skimp, you’d be driving something else.

And having much less fun.

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