I've been trying to get a Mercedes-Benz into my family's fleet for some time, but the luxury brand's offerings usually come in a little higher than our budget allows. I tested the 2014 CLA-Class with the hopes that this sub-$30,000 sedan could work for my family of three, but quickly determined the four-door "coupe" was not intended for families, even small ones. My scheming started again with the 2015 GLA-Class. I wondered if the three of us would fare better in the subcompact crossover, which starts at $32,225 including a destination charge, than in the CLA-Class.
On paper, the GLA250 offers more passenger room and cargo space than the CLA250 thanks to its crossover body style. It's no surprise that the GLA250's cargo area is larger at 17.2 cubic feet behind the backseat compared to the CLA250's 13.1 cubic feet. My stroller fit in the GLA250's cargo area easily, but in the CLA250 I had to remove one of the stroller's wheels to fit it. When the GLA250's 60/40-split rear seats are folded, there's 43.6 cubic feet of cargo space. The GLA250 also boasts an additional 6 inches of rear legroom (33.9 inches) over the CLA250, which is impressive considering both cars have the same 106.3-inch wheelbase.
The GLA250 is fun to drive, but it doesn't have the same heft and solidity on the road as others in the Mercedes lineup. At times, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission shifted harshly and hunted for the right gear. Coupled with the engine's jarring stop-start technology, the drive experience was much less refined than other Mercedes-Benz models I've driven in the past.