2019 BMW X1 vs. 2019 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Compared to metal, the X1’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mercedes GLA has a metal gas tank.

Both the X1 and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and driver alert monitors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the X1 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 139 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.


The X1’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X1 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLA.


To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the X1 has a standard 150-amp alternator. The GLA’s 115-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 9 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.


The X1’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (228 vs. 208) than the GLA 250’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the BMW X1 is faster than the GLA 250:




Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

6.9 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.5 MPH

89.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the X1’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The GLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The X1 has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 250’s standard fuel tank (16.1 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The X1 has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 45 AMG’s standard fuel tank (16.1 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the BMW X1 higher (7 out of 10) than the Mercedes GLA (5). This means the X1 produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the GLA every 15,000 miles.


An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW X1, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the GLA.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the X1’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the GLA:




Front Rotors

13 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11.6 inches

The X1’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the GLA 250 are solid, not vented.

The X1 stops shorter than the GLA:





70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

173 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X1 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The GLA doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

The X1 offers an optional space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The X1 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GLA 250 suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The X1’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56.5% to 43.5%) than the GLA’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the X1 more stable handling and braking.

The X1 xDrive28i handles at .87 G’s, while the GLA 250 4MATIC pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For greater off-road capability the X1 has a 2.4 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLA 45 (7.2 vs. 4.8 inches), allowing the X1 to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The X1’s minimum ground clearance is 1.9 inches higher than on the GLA 250 (7.2 vs. 5.3 inches).


The design of the BMW X1 amounts to more than styling. The X1 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .32 Cd. That is lower than the GLA (.32 to .33) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the X1 get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the X1 xDrive28i is quieter than the GLA 250 4MATIC (40 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The X1 has 10.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLA (101.2 vs. 91).

The X1 has 3.5 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 4 inches more rear headroom, 9.9 inches more rear legroom and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the X1’s available rear seats recline. The GLA’s rear seats don’t recline.

The front step up height for the X1 is 1.4 inches lower than the GLA (17” vs. 18.4”). The X1’s rear step up height is 2.2 inches lower than the GLA’s (17.3” vs. 19.5”).

Cargo Capacity

The X1 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the GLA with its rear seat up (27.1 vs. 17.2 cubic feet). The X1 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (58.7 vs. 43.6 cubic feet).

The X1’s cargo area is larger than the GLA’s in almost every dimension:




Length to seat (2nd/1st)



Max Width



Min Width






Servicing Ease

The X1 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The GLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.


The X1 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GLA doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Consumer Reports rated the X1’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the GLA’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the X1 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the X1 offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The GLA doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the X1 has a standard extendable sun visor. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

When the X1 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The GLA’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the X1’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The GLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the X1 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the X1 with a number “3” insurance rate while the GLA is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the X1 is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost less on the X1 than the GLA, including $112 less for a water pump, $79 less for front brake pads, $26 less for a starter, $12 less for fuel injection, $10 less for front struts and $22 less for a power steering pump.


Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its September 2016 issue and they ranked the BMW X1 xDrive28i first. They ranked the Mercedes GLA 250 4MATIC third.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the X1 first among small premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The GLA isn’t in the top three.

The X1 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 3 years. The GLA has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

The BMW X1 outsold the Mercedes GLA by 32% during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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