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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.8

Mercedes-Benz's high-end reputation was built on pricey cars like the commanding S-Class sedan and the iconic SL roadster, but the German manufacturer is hoping its all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan can draw more buyers from the growing entry luxury segment, attracting a younger generation of brand loyalists with an attractive starting MSRP of $29,900. Borrowing styling cues from the bigger and more upmarket CLS, which launched the so-called 4-door coupe trend, the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class wraps a more aggressive version of those looks into a smaller, tighter package that aims to steal car shoppers away from compact to mid-size sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.

You'll Like This Car If...

The Mercedes-Benz CLA boasts two primary selling points: premium looks and a surprisingly accessible price of entry. Sure, it's not an elegant, proportional masterpiece like its upmarket sibling the CLS, but this chip off the block is still arguably sexier than virtually all of its competitors.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you're serious about using the rear seats, you might want to skip the CLA. While there's enough headroom for most folks under 6-feet tall, getting in and out of the rear quarters – not to mention maneuvering a car seat back there – poses a serious challenge.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.8
  • 7.7
  • 7.7
  • 9.0
  • 7.0
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#1

out of 16

Fuel Economy

#14

out of 16

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

9.2 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Low/wide front photo What's New for 2014

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is all-new for 2014. Though it slots below the C-Class in the manufacturer's lineup (and undercuts the C250 by about $5,000), the CLA is slightly longer. However, when the redesigned C-Class debuts later this year, it will trump the CLA in size.

Driving the CLA-Class
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions If you were to slip behind the wheel of a standard Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and hit the road, you'd be hard pressed to tell it was a front-wheel-drive car. The car...

... launches smartly off the line, and only under the most extreme dynamics does it reveal the "plowing" – aka, understeering tendency front drive cars are known for. Nonetheless, more dedicated drivers might want to opt for the 4Matic all-wheel-drive version, which better responds to aggressive steering and throttle input at the limit. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces a mild 208 horsepower, but that's enough grunt to help the CLA feel peppy under most circumstances, thanks in part to the well-chosen ratios of its crisp shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hardcore enthusiasts should find their bliss in the CLA45 AMG, which packs a serious wallop with its 360-horsepower engine, stiffer suspension and standard all-wheel drive.

PANORAMA ROOF
Especially since the CLA cabin is somewhat snug, the available panorama roof opens up the space to make it feel spacious and bright using a fixed polycarbonate cover, and a glass panel that slides back.

ELECTROMECHANICAL STEERING
Many electric steering systems feel numb and disconnected, but the CLA's setup manages to infuse plenty of feel at the wheel, making for an entertaining dance partner on winding roads.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Details
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class feels intimate on the inside, especially when compared to the C-Class sedan – which actually has a smaller overall footprint but a bigger interior. Credit (or criticize) the CLA's low-slung roofline for the counterintuitive discrepancy. Nonetheless, the CLA's cabin is outfitted with surprisingly decent materials, from the dash and trim components to the standard MB-Tex upholstery, which didn't make us miss real leather hides. Our only gripes came from small plastic bits like the cup holder and the mirror control surrounds. Other than those minor slips, the CLA's interior feels more upmarket than its price point might suggest.

Exterior
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class photo

The CLA takes on an aggressive stance with its arched silhouette and strong character lines, though its relatively narrow width and surprisingly skinny tires betray its otherwise imposing road presence. At least those items help the CLA250 achieve the title of "World's most aerodynamic car," beating hybrids like the Toyota Prius in the wind tunnel with a drag coefficient of only 0.23.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The CLA250 comes equipped with a surprising amount of standard bells and whistles, including rain-sensing windshield wipers, cruise control, and a power driver's seat. Hill-start assist and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters are also part of the $29,900 entry price, as well as safety features like collision prevention assist and attention assist. Bluetooth is also standard on the base model, though you'll have to opt for the Premium Package for an iPod/MP3 interface.

Optional Equipment

Spring for the Premium Package ($2,300), and you'll get a harman/kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio, heated seats (which are also available a la carte), and a few other goodies. A Multimedia Package ($2,370) offers a bigger 7-inch screen with navigation and SiriusXM traffic & weather, as well as a 10-gig music hard drive and a rearview camera. Standalone options include 4Matic all-wheel drive, blind-spot assist, and the "self-parking" Parktronic feature.

Under the Hood
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Engine photo

Mercedes-Benz's entry-level sedan is available with two powertrain configurations: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 producing 208 horsepower on the CLA250, and the tire-slaying CLA45 AMG version of that engine churning 355 horsepower. The pumped-up AMG iteration earns the distinction of being the first 4-cylinder engine from Mercedes-Benz's in-house tuning branch. Both mills are mated to 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The standard configuration is front-drive, with 4Matic all-wheel drive available on the CLA250 and standard on the CLA45 AMG.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250/CLA250 4Matic
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/38 mpg

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG 4Matic
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
355 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
332 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 starts at $30,825 including destination charges), though that price can swell towards the $40,000 mark when loaded with options. However, thanks to available bundles like the Premium and Multimedia packages, scoring a well-optioned CLA for around $35,000 should be feasible. The high-powered, specially tuned CLA45 AMG commands a noticeably higher price that starts at $48,375. Compared to the Audi A4 (which starts at $32,500) and the BMW 3 Series (with its $32,550 base price), the CLA250 proves an excellent value thanks to its decent basic equipment list and available standalone options like 18-inch wheels, heated seats and burl walnut wood trim. Residual value of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA is predicted to be well above average, though still below that of the Lexus IS 250.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.2
Out of 10

Based on 18 Ratings for the 2014 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.3/10
    Quality
    9.6/10
  • Reliability
    9.6/10
    Performance
    9.3/10
  • Comfort
    9.1/10
    Styling
    9.7/10

very fast and great car to finally grow up to

By on Monday, August 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,300

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "very fast, very reliable, fun to drive."

Cons: "expensive not a cheap car per say"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

just before i purchased.

"fantastic very fast,great traction in adverse winter weather (4matic). gorgeous exterior and interior. I have a fully loaded 45 AMG with RECARO racing seats and carbon fiber. I have this car for a 1yr 1/2 totally awesome car."

just before i purchased.

Best Premium Car in its Class

By on Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Premium feel, great price, oustanding economy."

Cons: "Less performance, tight rear seating."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"A lot of what you read out there is this car versus another car that is not in its class. You cannot fairly compare this car to, say, a BMW 320 or a Mercedes C300. This is a compact luxury coupe that happens to have 4 doors. It is not a closer to mid-sized sedan like the ones mentioned above. Keep that in mind when you read peoples reviews. The CLA250 is in a niche (test) market. The only real direct competitors at this time are the Acura ILX, BMW 228, and Audi A3. The BMW 228 is a 2 door, so that isn't exactly the same class. Nevertheless, these cars are aimed at people that want a lower price point luxury vehicle with great fuel economy and smaller dimensions. Lexus, Infiniti, etc., don't make a competitor vehicle. Maybe you could throw in maxed out Altima's, Camry's, and Accord's, but that would be a stretch to call those luxury vehicles. Having said all that, the CLA 250 is a fantastic car in its class. The interior feels very premium at this price point. The console layout is great and feels like modern premium. Its well thought out and has all the right touches one would expect in a luxury vehicle. The BMW feels antiquated by comparison, while the Audi is just plain terrible. The Acura ILX actually has the next best console/cockpit layout and feel after the CLA250. The front seating on all four cars are what one would expect in a compact luxury car. If you are much taller than average, you will feel cramped. For people of average height and lower, there is plenty of comfort and room to be had. None are the clear winner in this respect. You will just have to experience each of them and judge for yourself. In our opinion, the MB power seating controls, seat heating, and other minor nuances, are what place it at the top. The rear seating on all four cars is cramped, even for a compact car. Again, there isn't a clear winner here. Taller adults will struggle to get comfortable back there. MB does give the back seating some nice touches, though, that are absent or just not as nice on others. Overall, MB gives the rear seating more of the premium treatment than others. Performance is best on the BMW. It is the sportiest, quickest, turns the best, and so on. This may not be supported by test reports, but that is how it feels compared to the others. MB has the best ride, although, it is not great by any measure. Your best bet is the get the 17 inch wheels if comfort is on your mind. The 18 inch wheels do make it sportier and turn better, but you get more road feedback. The CLA 250 gets top marks in the economy battle outside of the Audi A3 Diesel (which is a $3000 option). Nothing much to say here. 26 city / 38 highway is outstanding for a car that also can do 0-60mph in about 6 seconds. The MSRP price of the CLA250 was the second best after the Acura ILX when compared to similarly equipped vehicles. We found that MB was the most willing to negotiate savings off the MSRP (during the Summer), though, and also gave the most for our trade. Acura and BMW wouldn't budge below 4% under MSRP, and that was on their loaner cars. Audi wasn't willing to go more than 6% under MSRP. MB was offering 10% off MSRP without even trying on any in stock brand new car. MB offered us at least $1000 more for the trade, too. The overall deal was clearly the best amongst these four cars. Overall, you just cant beat what Mercedes put together on the CLA250. It really comes down to preference, though. Some would rather sacrifice the premium for more sport. Some would rather sacrifice economy for more rear seat room. It really is in the eye of the beholder. For everything we valued, the CLA250 was the runaway winner, with no real close second. If we had to rank them, it would be MB CLA250 in front, followed by Acura ILX, BMW 228 and Audi A3. The Acura is perhaps the bang for your buck leader after the CLA250. If you can find the right dealer at the right time, you may be able to get a better deal on it versus the CLA250. BMW is the clear sport luxury leader, where the emphasis is on sport. The performance is outstanding for a vehicle in this class. Audi is dead last. It is not a very good vehicle at all. The console/cockpit is atrocious. That alone is enough to walk on by. The ride is bad, the economy is sub-par, and the list goes on. I would be happy to own the CLA250, ILX or 228, as they are all great vehicles in their own way. I would pass on the Audi A3."

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Fantastic small luxury car!

By on Saturday, July 18, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Power, handling, styling, quiet cabin"

Cons: "Nosiy engine, no HID headlights standard"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"The handling and torque is fantastic! Vehicle has no problem turning "on a dime" and freeway on-ramp acceleration. A/C vents are the best I've ever experience in any vehicle; very flexible and easy to operate. The A/C is ice cold and the heating is excellent. The base leather seats are comfortable and sporty-looking. The steering wheel is the best I've ever gripped. The trunk is large and the fold-down seats create even more space for the small vehicle. The navigation system is not intuitive but the screen is placed nicely and the picture quality is very good. Harmon-Kardon surround sound is awesome but my only complaint is that the subwoofer is weak, resulting in too much treble. However, the surround effect awesome! Finally, the panoramic moonroof is a must-have! My only overall complaint is that the engine is noisy and it makes an odd sound at engine shut down (sound like a transformer robot). Also, I don't know why HID headlights aren't standard on a MB. Plain headlights are kind of cheap looking for a luxury car."

4 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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