2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test Introduction

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test


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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test: Introduction

November 15, 2013

Back in February, actor Willem Defoe starred as the devil in a commercial for the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250, enticing a young man to sell his soul for the chance to enjoy Benz's sleek new coupe-ish sedan and the bountiful success that supposedly comes with it. The "deal" is ultimately turned down when the CLA's affordable base price of $29,900 is revealed.

This wildly successful ad made Mercedes' new entry-level model one of the most hotly anticipated new cars of the year, and its appeal certainly transcends the thespian efforts of the guy who played the Green Goblin. The CLA's styling mimics that of the hugely desirable CLS-Class, the nearly-as-fashionable cabin is nicely equipped and its turbocharged four-cylinder is not only more powerful than Mercedes' previous entry-level sedan (the pricier C250) but it achieves an EPA-estimated 30 mpg combined. That impressively low base price helps, too.

With such hype and interest, adding a 2014 CLA250 to our long-term fleet for 12 months and 20,000 miles was an absolute no-brainer. And for the record, we purchased it with good old American dollars: no souls necessary.

What We Bought
As it turns out, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class doesn't really cost $29,900. That number doesn't factor in the $925 destination charge, so what you're really looking at is a base price of $30,825. That's not as eye-catching, but it still represents a very low price for a Mercedes-Benz sedan.

For that base price, you get the only powertrain combination available: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, and perhaps most notably for a Mercedes-Benz, front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic lights and wipers, eight-way power front seats with memory and lumbar adjustments, MBTex premium vinyl upholstery (you'd swear it was leather), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, mbrace2 emergency telematics/smartphone integration and Mercedes' driver inattention warning system.

That's actually a decent amount of stuff, and we probably could live with a so-equipped car. However, consumers rarely stick with the base car, so we decided to select a pair of optional packages CLA buyers seem likely to select.

The $2,300 Premium package nets you dual-zone climate control, driver side and interior auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats, satellite radio, an iPod/MP3 player interface and a Harman Kardon sound system. The $2,370 Multimedia package supplants the standard COMAND system's 5.8-inch display with a 7-inch one and adds a rearview camera, a six-CD/DVD changer, 10GB of digital music storage, real-time traffic and weather, voice commands and a Mercedes navigation system (versus the Becker Map Pilot software that can be integrated into the standard interface as a stand-alone option).

With those two packages only and our no-cost Cirrus White paint selection, the Edmunds long-term CLA250 came to a grand total of $35,495. Some negotiation brought our price down to $35K even. We feel this is pretty indicative of the cars that'll be leaving dealer lots, and its sticker price undercuts the most basic C250 sedan by $1,230. Equally equipped, the price difference is $6,590.

Why We Bought It
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has been one of the most frequently researched cars on Edmunds.com. It routinely draws more eyeballs than best-sellers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota Camry. Buying a CLA was largely an example of giving the people what they want.

However, there are many questions to answer about what is a rather significant departure for Mercedes-Benz. Will its engine deliver the promised fuel economy? Will its dual-clutch transmission be a smooth operator or a herky-jerky mess? What will a front-wheel-drive Mercedes perform like? Moving beyond the powertrain, will its cabin quality live up to our expectations for a Mercedes-Benz, and how much practicality does that sleek styling sacrifice? Finally, is the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 worth the hype?

We'll provide those answers and more in the next year as we drive it for 20,000 miles. Follow along on the long-term road test page for daily updates on our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and the rest of our fleet.


  • throwback throwback Posts:

    I know many folks like the look of this car but it looks ungainly to me. Frumpy is the word that comes to mind.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Still have that goddamned "feature" wherein you must post a comment to view a comment, I see. Didn't axing Insideline save enough money to hire a competent webpage designer? Regarding the CLA, this is a great choice. Prior C-classes were often panned as feeling cheap and insufficiently Benz-like. With FWD, controversial exterior styling, and a lower price, it seems like the CLA could be even more vulnerable to this criticism. I'm interested if you think it lives up to the hype, brand reputation, and price tag.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    I have a feeling you are going to have to pry this car from Donna, and it will be a staff favorite. Out goes the SLS, and in goes the CLA (still waiting 2 months for a wrap-up of the SLS and the XF).

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    When does the CLA AMG come out? It'll be the first MB I look at very closely, as it offers a souped up STI/EVO experience with a touch of luxury and more power for ~$10k more (base price). Interested in reading this posts though.

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    I think MB wisely put this car in the mix for the low-end MB buyers and are going to seriously step it up with the new C-class in terms of offering a "Same sausage, different length" feel among their core C-E-S strategy. The CLA will be for the young upwardly mobile and serve to get those into the C/E class in their second purchase.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Personally, I would rather skip the multimedia package, which doesn't offer anything I really need, and have the option to upgrade to AWD for the same money.

  • drhorrible drhorrible Posts:

    Too bad you didn't get the sport version but I will be following your progress very closely.

  • jps429 jps429 Posts:

    I don't understand the options selected. You order two separate $2,300 packages but did not get the Bi-Xenon headlamps and LED taillamps for $850?

  • jps429 I totally agree, how the heck do you get this car without xenons? It looks absolutely cheap without it. I hate that any luxury car manufacturer still sells halogen reflector base cars. When I see a new luxury car with those I instantly think "they got it for the badge and can only afford the cheapest".

  • tsa1 tsa1 Posts:

    I'd really like to see you guys do a longer long term test. These German cars are notorious for having very expensive mechanical problems down the road. Researching the previous model E-Class, I came upon many transmission malfunctions with the 7-Speed. I'd like to see how this car held up in 18 months and perhaps up to 40,000 miles. Just a thought.

  • cotak cotak Posts:

    Somehow wish you got the AMG cla..

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    so far what i like: 1. the front seat, that is my FAVORITE style of bucket seat! i tend to sit upright with my head back and this type of seat just seems to give me the least fatigue. 2. Rear AC standard! 3. Price yeah there is sportier cars for the money and there MIGHT be a more luxurious car for the money (doubt it) but this car seems to have the right balence for just under what the average new car transaction was last year (mid 30s) so pricewise this car is average but what it offers is far from it. i'm the wierd one who thought the A class was much more attractive and it is a shame that it is not coming but oh well

  • bassrockerx bassrockerx Posts:

    @victorminator my experience with HID bulbs has been nothing but terrible they go out all of the time and most cars with HIDs they are designed to be removed and reinstalled in the most infuriating/frustrating ways and the price of the bulbs are outrageou

  • joefrompa joefrompa Posts:

    I'm only commenting because the website won't let me see comments on this article otherwise

  • Interesting that it's most researched vehicle. People are probably checking if you get any value along with the MB badge. I'm thinking no.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    Glad to see a Benz in your fleet that folks outside the 1% can afford. It's been almost 5 years.

  • harry101 harry101 Posts:

    The base CLA250 is significantly less well-equipped than a similarly-priced VW CC. For Mercedes-Benz sake, I hope its a better car that their previous attempt at a popularly-priced car, which was a complete disaster.

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