2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Is It a Good Value?

March 7, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

Janis Joplin sang, "Oh lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?" Well, if Janis were alive today she might not even need the good lord's help. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 starts at $30,825 (with destination). And our car, with its well-chosen extras, still checked in at a seemingly quite reasonable $35,495. That's not much scratch for a luxury-branded car these days.

But I was curious to learn more on whether this represented a solid value for an entry-level luxury sedan or if you're paying a price premium to get that three-pointed star in the grille. Here are my thoughts.

For the 2014 model year, I compared our CLA250 to the Acura ILX and Buick Verano. It's not possible to get an exact match in terms of features, but you can get both the ILX and Verano fully loaded for less than the Mercedes. A top-level 2014 ILX with the Technology package is $32,495 (with destination). A Verano with the top-level Premium package (includes the 260-hp turbocharged engine) and the navigation system is $30,785.

So, yes, you're paying thousands more for the Mercedes in comparison to these two cars. But I do think you're getting your money's worth here. The CLA250 is quicker and sportier than the ILX by a significant margin, and is a more polished car overall than the Buick. Equally important, there's a chance with the ILX and Verano that you'll never shake the feeling that all you bought was a fancy version of a Civic or Cruze. The CLA? Yep, still a Mercedes.

Another comparison can be had with the upcoming 2015 Audi A3. Here, the pricing gets a lot closer, and equipping an A3 with features similar to our CLA250 does get you right in the $35,000 range. Unfortunately, I've yet to drive the new A3, but going from some early reports from my coworkers who have driven it, the two cars are pretty evenly matched.

Of course, "value" is always dependent on your viewpoint and what you're looking for in a car. But for me, the Mercedes CLA250 is priced competitively. Go ahead and get that Benz, Janis.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor


  • Which one of the three do you jump in for an 9 hour drive up I5?

  • diigii diigii Posts:

    Is Edmunds getting the Audi A3 then?

  • hmm, I checked the 3 dealers that came up within 50 miles of us and they had a total of 5 CLAs in stock. one at $35,000; two at $37,000; one at $38,000 and one at $40,000. Which does make the ILX and the Verano look a bit more appealing. I'd have to seriously consider the Regal too.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    I'm struggling to identify exactly who would be in the market for a "cheap" luxury car. Those who can afford to buy a luxury car may not accept the compromises of this car. Those who can't afford a luxury car would likely stick to more plebian brands like Chevrolet or Honda.

  • sharp_cai sharp_cai Posts:

    It's not worth it from my point of view. $35k can buy a V6 IS250 which it looks better and drives better than the CLA. Also, if IS250 is called compact sedan. I think CLA should be called mini sedan.

  • Good value? What can this car do that a Mazda 3 can't?

  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    If you get that sinking feeling that you got a Civic/Cruze when you buy an ILX/Verano, then you'll get that very same feeling with the A3 that you bought a VW Golf. A3 is an MQB platform just like the Golf.

  • "What can this car do that a Mazda 3 can't?" --- It makes it so you can say "My Mercedes..."

  • I suspect this will be roundly criticized by some, but when I see one of these on the road, I think of a Jaguar X-Type. I have no problem with that, I leased an X-type, enjoyed it and had exactly one mechanical issue in 50K miles. But it was admittedly the cramming of a style, a feel, a premium brand, into a relatively small car. I don't mind the CLA, just like I didn't mind the X, but I do think people make far more of the CLA than what it is.

  • For $35,000.00 I would get a fully loaded Honda Accord Touring. V6 power, more room and more features for the same money. If I was in the market for a compact sport sedan then the all new AWD turbocharged Subaru WRX would be a better choice. But you would of course not be able to say "I drive a Mercedes."

  • I drove an ILX for exactly one weekend. I dropped my TSX off for service and requested an ILX for a loaner. The service advisor didn't want to give it to me, as he said that I wouldn't like it. Out of curiosity, I insisted. How so many of these cars are sold, I don't understand. The only conclusion that I can come up with is that people see the logo on the grille and hand over the cash, as it is impossible that anybody would still want to take one home after a test drive. I'll take the CLA over the ILX any day of the week. In fact, I'd take a Civic over the ILX- at least then I know that I'm getting what I paid for...

  • vvk vvk Posts:

    The way I always judge these cars is by the trunk handle. Good, usable handle that allows you to keep your hands clean? Good value! Yes, I know this concept is hard to grasp for Californians. In this sense, Verano is OK but the ILX has no trunk handle at all. It is like they have no road grime in Japan.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    I think you're asking the wrong value question. A person who's really comparing value with the Civic and Cruze is never going to find that a German luxury car measures up to its price. The value question only makes sense compared to other German luxury cars-- including more expensive MBs. It's a question of, "Does the CLA250 look like a Benz, feel like a Benz, and drive like a Benz, or is it just a three-pointed star slapped on a hunk of iron?"

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    I think this car will be a great value as an 2 year old off lease vehicle.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    You've put the Mercedes in a class of 3 cars. It is probably better than the other two but also quite a bit more expensive. But here's the problem: you could argue that the ILX and Verano are essentially a Civic and a Cruze, making them overpriced themselves. The reviews on the Mercedes have been mostly positive. But there have been some complaints about the ride quality and long distance comfort. When a small, FWD car wants to be sporty, sacrifices are made. But this is the same sacrifice that is made with a Mazda3 or a GTI. The challenge for Mercedes, Audi and (soon) BMW is to make cars in this class that continue to feel special.

  • kirkhilles_ kirkhilles_ Posts:

    To me, its about the TOTAL COST of the vehicle over X number of years, including: Maintenance, Repairs, Insurance, Gas, etc. There's a reason why many luxury vehicles depreciate so heavily: they have huge repair costs upcoming. I can't speak directly about Mercedes, but my guess is that you might be able to afford the payments on the vehicle, but you might have a "oh god" moment when you need a significant repair at Mercedes dealer pricing.

  • I just had the opportunity to sit in the A3 and CLA back to back at an auto show this weekend. I wouldn't consider myself a CLA fan but the interior quality was on a different level than the A3. The materials in the A3 took a nose dive down from even the A4... Having said that.. neither of them felt as high quality as the Mazda 6, Kia Optima or Honda Accord.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    I am really wondering why this car exists. For the $36k, I would, be waiting for the new-platform Golf R. Yeah, it's a dressed-up GTI, but a GTI dresses up a lot better than a Civic does.

  • There are plenty of cars I'd get over the CLA given my current situation. BUT, if I had no kids, I would take a look at it...

  • ocramidajzj ocramidajzj Posts:

    I think one other person hit the nail on the head. The reason you buy a car like this is because it feels "special". The reason I love my 2013 Golf R over my previous cars is because the sum of it's parts makes it feel special to me. The only way Mercedes, BMW and Audi will succeed in this space is if they succeed in preserving that special-ness that gives European cars their edge. I have some doubts since I believe "special-ness" comes from those intangibles that you can't quite place your finger on. Intangibles that cost-cutting has a way of lopping off. That said, of the three I think Audi has the best chance of succeeding because VAG, as a whole, does a fantastic job preserving those intangibles. Judging by the 3 series and CLA I sat in at the auto shows BMW, and especially Mercedes, will have a harder time at it since their cost cutting was VERY apparent to my touch and sight. IMO.

  • flapsmcgee flapsmcgee Posts:

    Just because the Mercedes isn't based on a cheaper car's platform doesn't necessarily make it better. It's not like you couldn't build a cheaper car on the same platform if you wanted. And based on this test it doesn't look too good. http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1403_entry_level_luxury_sedan_comparison/winner.html

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