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KBB Expert Rating 9.2 / 10
This Car - 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA
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Consumer Rating 9.0 / 10

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KBB Expert Review

KBB Editors' Overview

By Keith Buglewicz

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is the least expensive sedan in the automaker's lineup, leading some to assume it's not a "real" Mercedes, just a bargain-basement ploy to lure customers into the showroom. Wrong. The CLA takes on the Audi A3 and Acura ILX, and even the BMW 2 Series, at least from a price-and-size standpoint, with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine powering the front or all four wheels. At a starting price of about $33,600, you get a decent amount of standard equipment, and the prestige of the Mercedes-Benz brand. You also get limited visibility and a cramped rear seat, but that's a small price to pay for first-time luxury-car buyers. If you want more power, the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 (reviewed separately) has it in spades, and a lot more.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you must have a luxury brand, but don't have a ton to spend, then the 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 makes good sense. It offers solid performance, good handling, and a cool style that closely resembles the much more expensive CLS.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you aren't brand-conscious, there are much better bargains out there from non-luxury brands. Your $35,000 could land you in a loaded Kia Optima, Chrysler 300, Honda Accord, Nissan get the idea. Options also quickly add to the price tag on the CLA.

What's New for 2018

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA gets a new Ice Edition, combining an AMG-look exterior, LED headlights, Dinamica trim, panorama roof, blind-spot assist, the Premium package, and special white paint and black 18-inch wheels.

Driving It Driving Impressions

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class uses a front-wheel-drive (FWD) architecture, a departure for the company, but it's executed so well that it's almost just an academic difference. The FWD model handles very well, and the all-wheel-drive (AWD) model improves on that. Put it in Sport mode and the car zips off the line thanks to generous low-end torque and a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission. The steering is nice and responsive, and you have to push the CLA to its very edge to feel the kind of understeer that betrays its front-drive architecture. However, that limit's higher than most drivers will explore, and the AWD model mitigates it significantly while adding all-weather peace of mind. All that good handling does come at the expense of ride quality, which has a hard time absorbing small impacts such as expansion joints and the like.

Favorite Features

You can't get more headroom in the 2018 CLA's interior, but you can create the illusion with the big panoramic glass sunroof. When it's open, there are near-convertible levels of sunshine and fresh air, while the retractable sunshade lets in plenty of the former without the latter.

While sipping fuel isn't always a priority for luxury-car buyers, the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in the CLA gets up to 36 mpg in front-wheel-drive models. It's the best economy you'll get in a Benz that isn't powered by electrons.

For vehicle details and pricing notes… Read More
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