The GLA may be the entry-level model in Mercedes-Benz’s successful SUV range, but it now feels more luxurious than ever because it has been redesigned and significantly improved for 2021. For its second generation, the GLA now features a new 221 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a digital cockpit with the advanced MBUX voice assistant system. You have the option of adding 4MATIC all-wheel drive to your 21’ GLA and there are several different driving modes to take advantage of. You also have more headroom to enjoy in the all-new GLA as it’s now three inches higher than its predecessor. Legroom in the back is also much more generous, even though the GLA is now 0.5 inches shorter.
While the all-new GLA is plenty luxurious on its own, the options you can go for make it even better. For example, there’s a panorama roof, 64-color ambient lighting, and even better technology to take advantage of.
The all-new GLA features powerful overall proportions with short overhangs at the front and rear. 18” wheels come standard, but there are wheels up to 20” in size.
“Typical of the GLA are the powerful shoulders of the bodywork and the coupe-like lines of the side windows,” writes Mercedes-Benz on its website. “This contoured side profile gives the car its dynamically elegant flair and offers an interesting play of light and shadows.”
The radiator grille with its central Mercedes-Benz star looks great up front, as do the headlights. The taillamps, meanwhile, are in two parts with the reflectors positioned separately in the bumper. It makes the rear end appear wider and it actually makes for easier loading of cargo. There are also standard aluminum roof rails with the 21’ GLA, and a standard power liftgate.
Overall, the 2021 GLA feels sporty and modern. It’s taller than the predecessor model, resulting in a higher seating position that’s more characteristic of your typical SUV. Mercedes-Benz calls the design self-assured and dynamic.
“The new GLA embodies the perfect synergy between sheer beauty and robust off-road elements,” said Gorden Wagener, chief design officer of the Daimler Group. “With it, we are carrying the dynamic SUV forward into the future of modern luxury.”
You can also opt for AMG body styling with the 19” AMG wheels or you could go for the Night Package, which adds Gloss Black exterior accents.
For it being Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level SUV, the GLA’s interior is more than impressive. It’s even better for 2021 as it now features the highly advanced MBUX infotainment system as standard. It’s also more spacious inside with improved legroom in the rear, as well as more trunk space.
Because the GLA is now taller than before, the seating position for both the driver and the front passenger is more upright than the previous generation. That means it feels more like your typical SUV when you’re sitting inside it. All-round visibility has also been improved in comparison with the previous model.
What’s nice is that the rear seats can be optionally adjusted by 5.5 inches, and you can also set the rear seat backrest to a steeper rake. The rear seat can be split 40/20/40, by the way, for maximum cargo flexibility.
The technology is quite impressive inside the 2021 GLA. The SUV comes standard with the highly advanced MBUX infotainment system with two crisp and vibrant 7” displays, but you can upgrade to have two 10.25” displays instead. You can control the infotainment multiple ways. You can use the steering wheel-mounted touch controls, the touchpad controller, or you can physically touch the screen to get it to do what you want. You can also say “Hey Mercedes” to get the MBUX system to listen to you.
Other standard luxuries for the interior of the 2021 GLA include the power front seats with memory, dual-zone climate control, and the power liftgate. The five round air vents up front have a cool look to them, and give the interior some more design flair.
As for options to make your high-style, high-tech GLA even better, you can opt for the available panorama sunroof. It makes the technically compact GLA feel even more spacious inside and it offers the rear seat passengers excellent views of the sky above. The optional 64-color ambient lighting system is simply stunning at night and it helps the GLA come alive. Don’t forget, you have the larger 10.25” screens you can opt for and there’s also wireless charging available. MBUX Augmented Reality navigation and a head-up display are even more excellent options for you to choose from with the 21’ GLA.
Every GLA is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was completely modernized for the new edition of the compact model series. The 2021 GLA’s 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder now makes 221 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, and it’s paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
“In comparison to the previous generation, it is characterized by significantly increased specific outputs and by improved efficiency and emissions,” writes Mercedes-Benz on its website.
Permanent 4MATIC all-wheel drive is optional and gives you added confidence for various driving situations. With the DYNAMIC SELECT switch, you can influence the driving characteristics of the system. For example, you can choose between Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Off-Road.
The 2021 GLA 4MATIC rides and handles well. It’s quick and peppy, is great around curves, quiet to drive, and you feel safe and comfortable in it. Plus, you now have a better seating position in the vehicle thanks to its added height.
Don’t forget, there are also AMG-enhanced models you can opt for. You can choose between the AMG GLA 35 or AMG GLA 45. If you want to dial up the performance you get out of your GLA, look no further than those AMG models! They also have special design features to them that make them stand out.
There are many highly advanced systems backing you up inside the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA. One of our personal favorites is Blind Spot Assist, it alerts you with a small triangle on your GLA’s side mirrors when there’s a vehicle in your blind spot. You also have the option of having a 360 degree view of your GLA with various camera angles showing you all around your vehicle.
The 2021 GLA is priced from $36,230. Opting for 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the panorama roof, the larger infotainment screens, ambient lighting, wireless charging, or other advanced packages will cost you extra.
As for competitors, you could take a look at the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque, or even the Mercedes-Benz GLB (which is the GLA’s similarly priced sibling).
We are loving the second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA. The luxury compact SUV received just the right improvements that it needed for 2021. It looks great, is now more spacious inside with more headroom and legroom, features improved technology, and the engine is more powerful and more efficient.
While Liz is now the proud owner of the 2021 GLA, she’d give it a rating of 90/100 if she could. She rated the previous generation model an 82/100. What do you think about the new and improved Mercedes-Benz GLA? Let us know in a comment on our video!