2021 Mercedes GLA vs. 2020 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/27

The GLA’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Forester doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The GLA has a standard Post Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Forester doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The GLA offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Forester only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the GLA and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, 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 lane departure warning systems.

Warranty

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The GLA comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Forester’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

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The GLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 39 more horsepower (221 vs. 182) and 82 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the GLA has larger tires than the Forester (235/55R18 vs. 225/60R17).

The GLA’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester’s standard 60 series tires. The GLA’s optional tires have a lower 50 series profile than the Forester Sport/Limited/Touring’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GLA has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Forester. The GLA’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Forester Sport/Limited/Touring.

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

Suspension and Handling

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The GLA offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads or off-road. The Forester’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The GLA’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Forester doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the GLA’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the Forester (107.4 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the GLA is 1.6 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than on the Forester.

Chassis

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The GLA is 8.5 inches shorter than the Forester, making the GLA easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The GLA has 3.2 inches more front hip room and 3.7 inches more rear hip room than the Forester.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the GLA’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Forester doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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The GLA uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Forester 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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 41% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Forester Touring, the GLA has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

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

The power windows standard on both the GLA and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GLA is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Forester prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The GLA’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Forester’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the GLA the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Forester can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The GLA’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Forester’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The GLA’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Forester Premium/Sport/Limited/Touring.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the GLA keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Forester doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The GLA offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Forester.

The GLA has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Forester Limited/Touring.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes GLA offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Forester doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The GLA has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Forester doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The GLA’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Forester doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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The GLA is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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