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2016 mercedes-benz GLA-Class

The GLA-Class slots below the all-new GLC-Class in Mercedes' ever-expanding lineup of crossovers and SUVs. Riding on the same platform as the sleek CLA-Class, the GLA offers the high seating position and the versatility of a crossover in a compact package that can be easily maneuvered in urban areas.

The lineup includes the GLA 250 detailed below and the performance-focused GLA 45 AMG.

Overview
The GLA stretches 173 inches long, 60 inches tall and 71 inches wide, dimensions that make it the smallest crossover Mercedes has ever offered by a long shot. It boasts a muscular front end thanks to a twin-slat radiator grille with mesh inserts, a powerdome hood and elongated headlamps whose design is inspired by other members of the Mercedes lineup. The sporty look continues past the front end with a low roof line, a tall belt line and a spoiler mounted on top of the hatch, while 18-inch alloys tucked under large wheel arches finish off the dynamic look.

Life Aboard
Inside, the GLA is nearly identical to the CLA that it shares its platform with. Unabashedly designed to appeal to a young target audience, the crossover's cockpit is characterized by aircraft-inspired round air vents surrounded by chrome bezels, an instrument cluster consisting of four round analog gauges and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel.

A 7-inch color touch screen that protrudes from the top of the center stack comes standard, and buyers can spruce up the cockpit by selecting the optional Multimedia Package that adds high-tech goodies such as Mercedes' COMAND system. Controlled by either buttons on the center stack, a controller knob or a voice recognition software, COMAND integrates the car's audio, navigation (if equipped), climate control and connectivity functions into a single unit.

The touch screen also lets passengers control Mercedes' MBrace2 infotainment system. Mbrace2 runs cloud-based applications and provides on-the-go access to the internet. In addition to offering a wide array of concierge services, the latest generation of Mercedes' infotainment system comes with an application that lets owners use their smartphone to lock or unlock the car from a distance and instantly find it in a parking lot.

Standard Bluetooth connectivity allows the passengers to make hands-free phone calls and stream music.

The GLA offers 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space with five occupants on board. 43.6 cubic feet can be obtained by folding down the rear seats.

Under the Hood
Power for the GLA comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mounted transversally in the engine bay. The turbo four generates 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque, enough to send Mercedes' smallest crossover from zero to 62 mph in 7.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 145 mph. Power is transferred to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that can be left in automatic mode or controlled with shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.

Buyers who need extra traction can order the GLA with Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive system. Designed specifically for the automaker's small cars, the new 4Matic system sends 100 percent of the engine's torque to the front wheels under normal driving conditions but it can instantly transfer up to 50 percent to the rear wheels if it senses extra traction is needed.

Mercedes offers the GLA with a fuel-saving start/stop system. The crossover returns 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

Standard and Optional equipment
The GLA comes standard with heated door mirrors, automatic halogen headlights, fog lights, chromed roof rails, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a push-button ignition, a leather-wapped multi-function steering wheel, single-zone A/C, power-adjustable front seats, MB Tex upholstery, an eight-speaker sound system, tinted windows and cruise control.

Highlights from the list of standalone options include a power tailgate, keyless entry, 19-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery. Mercedes also offers a wide array of option packages including the aforementioned Multimedia Package that bundles a 80GB hard drive, a rear-view camera, three years' worth of free navigation updates, an in-dash SD card slot and a three-year subscription to Sirius XM Radio.

Buyers after more creature comforts can select the Premium Package that adds dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-dimming mirrors, heated seats an integrated compass and a universal garage door opener.

Occupant Safety
In addition to eight airbags, the GLA comes with a radar-based Collision Prevention Assist system that warns the driver of potential accidents and, when necessary, automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash. The crossover also comes with an Attention Assist system that provides audible and visual alerts if it senses the driver is drowsy.

Key Competitors
Buyers looking for a well-appointed compact crossover should also look at the BMW X1, the upcoming Audi Q3, the Buick Encore and the Infiniti QX50.