2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Arizona Road Trip
April 17, 2014
I needed wheels to get to Arizona for a Hyundai press event drive, so Edmunds' Car Czar, Mike Schmidt, assigned me our long-term 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250.
No problem, I had barely driven the new Mercedes and wanted to spend some quality behind-the-wheel time in it anyway.
Here are some thoughts from the 800-mile, almost-all-highway road trip:
One of the first things I noticed as I was leaving our Santa Monica offices, and later on some bumpy highway sections, is that the ride is considerably harsher than I would've guessed or expected from Mercedes, even from their little fella.
But two things: First, while it can be a bit rough-riding, it's far from send-it-back-to-the-factory harsh. That said, some other cars thread the needle between handling and comfort considerably better.
Second, part of what saves the car from seeming even harder-riding than it is are the fantastic front seats. Now, Scott Oldham has gone on record as calling me "crazy" when I said I thought the 2013 Cadillac ATS seats were a bit less cushy than folks might expect from a Cadillac.
While I'm not going to deny there's some truth to his "crazy" statement about me, seats are a highly personal preference, and they're simply not going to fit every body type. For whatever reason these CLA seats work perfectly for me with nice cushioning and even some lateral support, giving hours of numb-free driving. And that was appreciated during the mostly boring desert wasteland of California and Arizona on Interstate 10.
There's been some grumbling around the office about the CLA250's 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. And for sure the tranny can get confused during low-speed driving around town (I feel its pain, as I'm easily perplexed, too). But once up to speed it works well, with nice quick shifts. The 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder has some real punch, plenty of power (208 horsepower, to be exact) for a car this size, making it easy to squirt around traffic.
The CLA250 returned some decent, but still not awesome, fuel mileage during this predominantly highway-filled road trip. It averaged 35.9 mpg over the two fill-ups, and combined with its 13.1 gallon tank this meant it got to my destination in Paradise Valley without stopping for gas, though it was close.
But the EPA estimates 38 mpg is attainable on the highway. Still, this trip will no doubt bring up our overall average, which at last check was 24.9 mpg.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,987 miles