The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is an all-new entry-level luxury sedan. It slots in below the C-Class in the Mercedes lineup.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Video Review
Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
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What's New for 2014
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is an all-new entry-level luxury sedan. It slots in below the C-Class in the Mercedes lineup.
The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class exists for one simple reason: A great many consumers desire the elegance and prestige associated with the Mercedes brand, but simply can't afford the high price of admission. The C-Class sedan has long been the company's entry-level model in the United States, but these days, a nicely equipped one runs well past $40,000. The 2014 CLA-Class marks a departure for the German automaker: It's a front-wheel-drive sedan infused with the premium furnishings of a traditional Mercedes-Benz, but priced far lower than the rear-drive C-Class.
The CLA is actually longer and wider than the current C-Class sedan (which is due for a redesign). Its sleek, aerodynamic shape brings to mind the larger CLS four-door "coupe" and Mercedes says that the CLA is more aerodynamic than a Toyota Prius, which should benefit fuel economy. The CLA-Class sedan's curvy roof line does impede on passenger space, however. Anyone over 6 feet tall shouldn't bother trying to get comfortable in the backseat.
Of course, the big question surrounding the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan is whether you'll see it as a genuine Mercedes-Benz or a half-hearted budget alternative. The CLA certainly feels like the real thing from the cockpit, as premium materials and a suite of safety and multimedia features check all the boxes for Benzness. With a strong turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a quick-shifting transmission and sure-footed handling, the CLA drives like a proper Mercedes, too. Meanwhile, the rip-snorting CLA45 AMG should right most of the base CLA250's wrongs with its incredibly swift straight-line performance.
With the launch of the 2014 CLA-Class, Mercedes brings an early offense to a budding class of compact luxury sedans. The 2015 Audi A3 is its closest rival in terms of price and design. The A3 offers more rear seat space and a more polished and comfortable ride quality. We ranked it ahead of the CLA in a comparison test, but you'll definitely want to cross-shop these two.
The CLA is also an interesting alternative to a wide range of competitors. The 2014 Acura ILX and 2014 Buick Verano cost considerably less, but unless it's equipped with a manual gearbox, the Acura can't keep up with the CLA250 in any contest of speed, while the Buick lacks the Benz's overall interior refinement. The 355-horsepower CLA45, on the other hand, has few peers. The new two-door BMW M235i comes close, but if you want something with four doors, you'll have to look at disparate models like the Chrysler 300C SRT8 or Subaru WRX STI.
Given the selection in this price range, you're wise to do some research before making a decision, but there's no doubt the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is a compelling choice for a compact entry-level luxury sedan.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is available in CLA250, CLA250 4Matic and CLA45 AMG trim levels.
The CLA250 comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, cruise control, eight-way power front seats, driver memory settings, leatherette premium vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat. Electronics features include a 5.8-inch central display, the COMAND interface, mbrace2 telematics/smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a sound system with a CD player.
The CLA250 4Matic is the same but has all-wheel drive. The CLA45 AMG is also equipped similarly. It has all-wheel drive as standard along with 18-inch wheels, a more powerful engine, larger brakes and firmer suspension tuning.
All CLAs are eligible for the optional Premium 1 package, which provides auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats and a Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface. The Multimedia package adds a larger 7-inch central infotainment screen with Mercedes' COMAND interface, a rearview camera, a 10-gigabyte music server, a six-disc CD changer and a navigation system with voice commands. Additional safety aids including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and blind spot warning are available via the Driver Assistance package.
The Sport package for the CLA250 adds 18-inch wheels, a more aggressive-looking front fascia and grille, and upgraded brakes. Stand-alone options for both models include summer performance tires, bi-xenon headlamps, a rear spoiler, a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, heated seats, wood interior trim, a lower-cost navigation system for cars with the standard 5.8-inch display, and parking sensors combined with an automated parking system. Exclusive options for the CLA45 include 19-inch wheels, interior and exterior carbon fiber trim, sport seats, an AMG steering wheel and red-painted brake calipers.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 208 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated manual transmission (with shift paddles) routes power to the front wheels, but all-wheel drive is available on the CLA250 4Matic. In Edmunds testing, a CLA250 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 6.4 seconds. EPA estimates for fuel economy are 30 mpg combined (26 mpg city/38 mpg highway) for the front-wheel drive version and 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city/32 mpg highway) for all-wheel drive.
The CLA45 AMG has an upgraded version of this 2.0-liter engine that features a twin-scroll turbocharger and fortified internal components. The result is an amazing 355 hp and 332 lb-ft. A quicker-shifting version of the seven-speed transmission drives all four wheels. Launch control is also included. At the Edmunds test track, the CLA45 AMG accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds, making it one of the quickest compact sedans available. EPA fuel estimates are 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city/31 mpg highway).
Both the CLA250 and CLA45 AMG feature an automatic stop-start function that, if engaged, turns off the engine when the car stops to save fuel.
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, a driver knee airbag, front seat side thorax airbags, front seat side pelvic airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. The CLA45 AMG has a three-mode stability control system that allows drivers to tailor the level of intervention.
In Edmunds.com's simulated panic stop from 60 mph, the CLA250 required 121 feet, while the CLA45 needed just 111 feet, both about average for their respective segments.
Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 emergency telematics is standard, as are Collision Prevention Assist, which uses radar to identify potential collision situations and intervenes with braking as necessary, and Attention Assist, which monitors the driver for signs of drowsiness and inattention. Rear seat side airbags are optional. Other safety-oriented options include a rearview camera, parking sensors bundled with an automated parking system and the Lane Tracking package, which adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
Interior Design and Special Features
Even though this is the bargain Benz, the CLA-Class sedan's interior largely escapes the cost-cutting knife. Quite simply, the cabin looks and feels like a traditional Mercedes. Big analog gauges, a clean center stack design, and tight fit and finish impart the same classic, premium feel shared across the Mercedes lineup.
One of the few exceptions is the optional navigation system's display, which looks like an aftermarket addition as it's perched high on the dash. On the upside, the screen is easy to read. It also takes some time to get used to selecting gears with a column-mounted stalk rather than a traditional console shifter. Various trim options, including walnut, ash, aluminum and carbon fiber (CLA45 only) allow you to create a cabin aesthetic that's either cool and modern, or classic and refined.
Unfortunately, the CLA's rear quarters aren't nearly as luxurious. Although the rear seats are well-shaped and supportive, the sloping roof line that gives the CLA its distinctive character also translates to tight headroom for 6-footers, and the knee room situation isn't much better. The CLA is also ill-equipped for small children; the rear seat's non-removable headrests can make safety seat fitment tricky, and those small rear doors make it tough to get little ones in and out, too.
You might assume the CLA sedan also has a small trunk, but in reality it offers a respectable 13.1 cubic feet of trunk capacity.
Most consumers will find the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 quite agreeable to drive on their daily commutes. Even if you've owned rear-wheel-drive Mercedes sedans in the past, you'll be hard-pressed to tell that the CLA250 is front-wheel drive, as it accelerates and steers with the precision of more elite Benz models. Part of the CLA's athletic character comes from the quick-shifting automated manual transmission, which offers driver-adjustable shift patterns and a manual shift mode via its steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
There are other aspects to the CLA, however, that serve as unfortunate reminders that you're driving an entry-level Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has effectively equipped its U.S.-sold cars with a standard sport-tuned suspension, and while that choice does contribute to the car's sporty handling, it also results in a rather firm ride quality. We suspect drivers expecting typical levels of luxury comfort when driving over broken pavement will be dismayed by the harsh and occasionally noisy impacts transmitted into the cabin. Other drivers might be put off by the workaday sounds of the base CLA's four-cylinder engine and the slow responses of the transmission when shifting in and out of Drive and Reverse.
Meanwhile, the 355-hp CLA45 AMG is far from a base Benz. In addition to its sizzling acceleration, the CLA45 has plenty of personality. Select Sport mode and you'll hear crackles and pops from the exhaust during both up- and downshifts. Around turns, the CLA45 offers tenacious grip and guided-missile determination. But the cost of this handling prowess is an even firmer ride quality that might be too much for even dedicated drivers. Also, its performance-oriented brakes are very sensitive and grab with the slightest touch of the pedal, and the transmission's shift quality can be overly aggressive for daily driving.
by J. Philipp Othmer on Feb 9, 2016 Vehicle: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA45 AMG 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
This car is flat-out amazing.
Everything I'd wanted and hoped this car to be was present. In spades.
First, however, is "the ache" for "what you want..." I'd characterize this as "the mainstream model...just not being enough." So, among segment players, that'd be Audi A4, BMW 328i/x, Mercedes C250 or C300; Volvo S60. I'd also include the "next step up," e.g. base A6, BMW 5 series, Mercedes E350; (maybe Volvo S80 re: size). The characteristic lacking is they feel under-powered. And so, for those who feel similarly, the car gods created the Audi S4/ S6; or 3.0 A6. There's BMW 335's/535's, and (was only C350..2 door in 4matic in US)....
The gap and emptiness in the heart filled to over-flowing is "all the functionality" of the base series above, but with >300hp (in smaller car); 4 doors, AWD, space--and just performance, driving dynamics, exhiliration. The AMG CLA45 just rules. -- Power for price point: WoW. Its beyond BMW 335; instead in range of M3. And its a Mercedes.
They give you free day AMG racing academy if you buy one new; but its worth the 1K in education and perspective out-of-pocket. If you're like the "rest of the world," and "just happen to not be cross-shopping other AMG's" and be disappointed it doesn't sound like a V8/V12 gas guzzler's of old...don't be. CLA45 is right in the middle of the pack with the other AMG's. Still can't believe how hard they had us drive the whole fleet of AMG's. Didn't know you could drive cars that hard. Would never drive my own that hard---but nice to know you could!
by P. Hickmon on Dec 6, 2015 Vehicle: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA45 AMG 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
I bought my Red 2014 CLA 250 in November 2014. I loved it in spite of the fact that it was a low-end luxury vehicle that sounded like a tractor. I always have head turns and compliments. Now, not so much. A few weeks ago it just stopped on one of the major intersections. The warning said something like" "Inoperable, pull over when able and consult the owner's manual" If the traffic had been as busy as usual I could have been killed or seriously injured. I rolled across the intersection into a parking lot. Cut the car off and back on. It started back up like nothing had happened. I took the car into the dealership and was told that they had to update the software. What?! They gave me some additional "cockamamy" excuses but nothing that mattered to me.
by Free88 on Aug 4, 2015 Vehicle: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA250 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
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, and then just deflate them a little bit to the mid-upper 30's. The 18 inch wheels do make it sportier and handle better, but you get more road feedback and slight deflation is not as effective.
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 just outstanding for a gas, non-hybrid car that also can do 0-60mph in about 6 or so seconds. "Pro" reviews seem to largely overlook the fact that the CLA250 is ground-breaking in this respect.
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.
by Arthur Vandalay on Jul 16, 2015 Vehicle: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA250 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
We sold our beloved 2010 Toyota Camry SE V6 ( Awesome Car!) to purchase the CLA because of the design and what we thought was an upgrade and entry in to the luxury market. We received lots of compliments at stop lights and parking lots and such (felt good). Having owned the car for approximately 1.5 years, we started to get the not so good feeling of multiple trips to the dealer. It began with the rattles in the interior, the console, the driver side visor, airbag lights, electrical shortages etc. It was embarrassing to have my co-workers in the car with rattles coming from all parts of the interior. I would recommend purchasing the maintenance package, which we found to be a good value if you so decide to purchase this lawnmower of a car. The CLA is a poor performing car, sluggish acceleration and extremely noisy. Mercedes attempt to enter the Eco friendly engine world is less than refined in this farm tractor sounding engine. The CLA lacks character on the inside unless you upgrade to a higher package for a lot more money. Compared to less expensive compact brands ( Corolla, Honda Civic) the CLA's interior seems that it was made out of plastic milk jugs and lacks basic standard amenities such as back up camera. Why pay 30K to drive a Mercedes emblem? the annoyance with the car as well as the dealership experience became vile hate, where no one wanted to drive the car, instead opting to drive our other non luxury cars. Finally, we gave up and broke the lease took the 3K hit and leased a Lexus GS350 oh what a difference, even the ES 250 was a better driving car and you get luxury and finesse. In closing the CLA is a genuine junk and the Mercedes product manager who decided to enter this category, with this poor quality of a product should be taken out to pasture and put to sleep. Good riddance Mercedes CLA never again anything Mercedes.. Don't do it!
Beautiful styling, great safety features, moderate performance
by filmdog on Feb 1, 2015 Vehicle: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA250 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
My wife and I have owned many cars. This is the best looking of the entire lot. We opted for just about every safety and appearance feature, and we got terrific safety, and head-turning style. The engine, however, is the standard 208 horse turbo four, and that's where things get less spectacular. Rated acceleration is good on paper, but you can feel the tiny powerplant revving hard to yield reasonably brisk results. Compared to a 350E that I drove recently, the CLA feels like an underpowered toy. No surprise given the price difference. Handling is good. The feel is "light", but nonetheless stable and precise. A tiny gas tank requires frequent refills.Mileage is fair--with Econ mode OFF.
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