2020 BMW X1 vs. 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class: Compare Crossovers

March 12, 2020

Entry-level luxury isn’t an oxymoron. 

For about the cost of an average new car—any new car—luxury automakers offer something that resembles affordable. For about $37,000, which is the average price paid for a new car last year, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class and 2020 BMW X1 are available. They may not be the best seats in either of the automakers’ respective houses, but at least you’re through the door. 

But which is better? Which crossover gets you the most luxury for the least money? Good questions. Our TCC Rating favors the X1 over the GLA—6.2 to 5.6—but there’s a caveat. Let’s dive in. 

MORE: Read our full reviews of the 2020 BMW X1 and 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

The GLA-Class costs $35,525, including destination, for a base 2020 GLA250. For that much, Mercedes includes a 2.0-liter turbo-4, a 7-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch display screen for infotainment, synthetic leather upholstery, and a power liftgate. The 2020 BMW X1 costs $36,195, including destination, for a front-wheel-drive crossover with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, an 8-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, synthetic leather upholstery, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay compatibility. 

There’s not a lot of daylight between the two in their base configurations, although BMW offers a better warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper with 3 years of scheduled maintenance that’s included in the price. Mercedes also charges $350 extra for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility software. 

Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW charge $2,000 to add all-wheel drive to the GLA250 and X1, respectively, too. From there, the prices are limited by your imagination—neither stays relatively affordable for long. 

2020 BMW X1

2020 BMW X1

On paper, the two are neck and neck. The turbo-4 in the X1 makes 228 horsepower, the turbo-4 in the GLA250 makes 208 hp. The BMW is predictably brighter when accelerating away from a stop, the X1 takes just over six seconds to hit 60 mph, according to the automaker. The GLA250 doesn’t take much longer, just over seven seconds, according to Mercedes. 

Both steer well and are competent handlers when the roads get twisty. In essence, both are tall-riding hatchbacks—not really crossovers, and certainly not SUVs—and handle appropriately. BMW offers a few more driver-centric add-ons such as adaptive dampers and bigger wheels, but we’re not sure it’s worth the hefty $4,650 extra cost. (Mercedes offered last year an AMG GLA45 that was the automotive-zoomorphic honey badger; it’s gone, we miss it, it’s likely on its way back soon.)

2020 BMW X1

2020 BMW X1

The two share similar comfort scores, although the BMW X1 is incrementally bigger. The front seats in either crossover are power-adjustable and just fine. The GLA250 offers just 34 inches of rear seat leg room, which is comparable to a small sedan. The X1 offers 37 inches of rear seat leg room that’s incrementally larger for longer legs, although that advantage vanishes once the front seats are slid back. Behind the second row, the X1 offers 27.1 cubic feet of cargo room, which is more than a full-size sedan’s trunk. The GLA250 offers just 17 cubic feet, which is made less useful by a smaller rear cutout compared to the BMW. With the rear seats folded, the GLA250’s space grows to 43.6 cubic feet; the X1 maxes out at 58.7 cubes. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Both rate similarly for fuel consumption and average about 27 mpg combined, albeit on premium fuel. 

On paper the X1 wins out on practicality and performance but loses on base price. The GLA250 is less expensive in very base versions—provided you can find one on a dealer’s lot—but it asks for some compromise. Strictly speaking, there are better deals to be found for about $37,000; but if it must be a luxury brand, and it must be a crossover, we’d opt for an X1. 

A new GLA-Class is on the way for 2021 that could change our preference, stay tuned.

Summary

5.8
Expert Rating
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 is a solid crossover entry point into the luxury German brand.
6.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 BMW X1 welcomes crossover shoppers into the luxury brand with a good price and nice features.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
The GLA is more well-equipped hatchback than luxury crossover SUV.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Once a trendsetter, the 2020 BMW X1 has since been outpaced.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
With no AMG version of the GLA for 2020, this basic Benz still performs well for the price point.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The turbo-4 stays true to BMW’s heritage of making plucky powertrains, even if it’s packaged in a bigger body.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

6.0
Expert Rating
The base GLA is barely qualified to carry the Mercedes-Benz pedigree.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Spacious in the rear, the 2020 BMW X1 gets tight up front in both size and quality.
Read More

Safety

The GLA has not been tested by the IIHS or NHTSA for crash safety.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
With good crash-test ratings and standard safety features, the 2020 BMW X1 excels in safety.
Read More

Features

6.0
Expert Rating
The entry-level 2020 GLA lacks the standard luxury features you’d expect from MB, but it is well-equipped for the price.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The most affordable BMW on the market comes fairly well-equipped but still lacks some advanced technology.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
The GLA performs more like a hatchback than a crossover when it comes to fuel economy.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The turbo-4 in the 2020 BMW X1 is both frugal and fun.
Read More

MSRP

from $34,250
from $35,200

Invoice

from $32,195
from $33,235

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

28
27

Engine

Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Compare Free Dealer Price Quote
With competitive price quotes from multiple dealers, you will be prepared when you meet your local car dealer. Please tell us how to contact you so that dealers can compete for your business!
Search Dealers by ZIP Code
Update ZIP Code
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA Class
2020 BMW X1
Looking for dealers in your area...
Powered By
*As configured. Excludes taxes, title, license and other customary fees, such as dealer documentation fees, tire and battery disposal fees and, where applicable, finance charges. By clicking on “Get Your Price Quote Now”, you agree to our Terms of Use (including the Supplemental Terms) and Privacy Policy. You further consent to being contacted at the number you provided by CarsDirect and certain participating automotive dealerships, which may include autodials, text messages, and/or pre-recorded calls; this consent is not a condition of purchase or service. Message and data rates may apply.
2020
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2020
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.