Mercedes GLA Reviewed, Airbag Recall Inflated, GM Blocks Tesla: The Week In Reverse

October 25, 2014

Mercedes-Benz brings an even smaller utility vehicle to the U.S., and now we've driven it; a minor airbag issue now affects millions more vehicles, and could potentially injure you more than a minor crash itself; and GM takes sides, against Tesla. It's all part of the Week In Reverse, for Saturday, October 25, here at The Car Connection.

This week we published a full review of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA—that's the all-new compact crossover based on the curvaceous CLA sedan introduced last year. We found that while the GLA isn't the roomiest small crossover, it's a stylish, easy-to-drive vehicle with a double shot of urban attitude—and a dash of ruggedness—that looks fully up to Mercedes-Benz luxury standards.

Recalls again took some of the top headline spots this past week. The federal government expanded the recall of shrapnel-prone airbags produced by the Japanese supplier Takata. It now includes the Toyota Corolla, Matrix, Sequoia, and Tundra; the Lexus SC; and the Pontiac Vibe. And in all 7.8 million vehicles in the U.S. alone might be affected.

But that wasn't the only recall news. Ford already ponied up the first recall for the 2015 Mustang, and two lawsuits seeking class-action status are alleging that GM cars lost resale value due to the automaker's much maligned ignition-related recalls this past year. And while we're at it, we considered that all these recalls really do add up to a shocking number: One in five U.S. vehicles have been recalled so far in 2014.

All the safety ratings and crash tests are in from both of the U.S. agencies, and there's a clear winner in the midsize sedan category: the 2015 Chrysler 200. The redesigned 200 has now earned five stars in all crash-related categories from the federal government, and that adds to this sedan's IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status. That altogether nudges the 200 ahead of the Honda Accord, which up until now was the top achiever in this segment.

In recent days, we reported on a few other controversial subjects. Chicago tweaked the length of its yellow lights and cashed in big, with $7.7 million in additional fines for motorists—but not without generating a lot of pushback, even from judges. And GM, in its home state of Michigan, came out against Tesla Motors' commission-free, haggle-free direct-sales business model—leading shortly thereafter to Governor Rick Snyder's signing of a bill enacting new restrictions. And Edmunds.com posted a series of thought-provoking YouTube ads aimed at homing in on dealer strategies—specifically, translating what car-shopper haggling would be like at the grocery store. That impression, in all fairness to salespeople, might have included a lot of old tricks no longer used at the majority of U.S. dealerships...but it's worth a laugh as you're researching or cross-shopping vehicles this weekend.

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