Auto review: 2021 Mercedes GLA250 is a good small SUV, but is that good enough?

By Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Business News

There may be no vehicle more perfectly poised at the intersection of Mercedes-Benz's past and future than the 2021 GLA250 4Matic small SUV.

Small, advanced and pricey, the GLA250 embodies luxury brands' late 20th Century strategy of stretching down market into smaller, less expensive classes to boost sales amid this decade's shift to SUVs.

Mercedes' future lies in electric and self-driving vehicles though. That may spell the GLA's doom. Powered by the company's latest four-cylinder engine, it's likely one of the last gasps of all-new internal combustion technology from a brand and industry shifting to electricity.

As part of that shift, Mercedes is de-emphasizing low price/low profit programs like the one that spawned the GLA, A-class sedan and slightly larger GLB SUV. The demands of developing new electric and self-driving vehicles may land the baby Benzes on history's scrap heap.

That makes corporate sense and commercial sense. Mercedes needs to invest where it'll make more money than small vehicles that overlap with mainstream brands. The second-gen 2021 GLA, while far better than its predecessor, has inherent challenges competing with mass-market small SUVs that deliver comparable features and performance for $10K-15K less.

Mercedes GLA250 standard features


— LED headlights

— LED taillights

— Attention assist

— Active brake assist


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