2019 Mercedes-Benz A 220: What's It Like to Live With?

We're going to put an A220 through its paces for 20,000 miles.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019
Miles DrivenAverage MPG

Latest Highlights (updated 05/29/20)

  • Impressive quality for an entry-level luxury sedan
  • Best-in-class MBUX infotainment system is an interior highlight
  • Sporty driving experience without an AMG badge
  • Underwhelming optional Burmester Stereo
  • Firm driver seats

What We Bought And Why

by Travis Langness, Reviews Editor

Our test vehicle: 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220
Base MSRP: $33,495 (including destination fees)
MSRP as tested: $46,160
What we paid: $42,431

Entry-level luxury vehicles are always a bit of a risk. Sure, you have the opportunity to attract younger buyers to your brand and potentially make them lifelong loyalists, but the car has to simultaneously sit at a low price point and meet luxury buyers' expectations. With that in mind, Mercedes has launched its second entry-level luxury sedan in a decade, the A-Class.

Mercedes didn't exactly hit one out of the park with its last entry-level sedan, the CLA-Class. Sure, it had some great Super Bowl commercials and it was a stylish addition to the lineup, but after we tested a CLA for a year, we weren't won over. The rear seats were cramped, fuel economy was middling at best, and it didn't meet our standards for a luxury car. Overall, it was a letdown.

Our early tests of the A-Class, however, have led us to believe that Mercedes has really upped its game. In fact, we were so impressed when we first tested one, that it flew to the top of our small luxury-sedan rankings, handily beating out the Audi A3 and even some larger luxury sedans. That meant it was time to start shopping.

What Did We Get?
We wanted our Mercedes-Benz A-Class to be relatively entry-level, sure, but we also wanted a few options we expect will be popular. The A-Class comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (188 horsepower, 221 lb-ft of torque) that is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. We got ours with front-wheel drive instead of the optional 4Matic all-wheel drive.

Standard features on the A-Class include dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable front seats, a 7-inch central touchscreen, the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. The MBUX system is one of the things we like about this A-Class because, besides its ease of use, it adds a certain element of style to the interior.

On top of the base features, we added some options to our A 220, including the Premium package (a bigger center display, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless entry among other features), the Multimedia package for navigation, the AMG Line package (18-inch wheels, a lowered suspension, sportier body styling, chrome grille treatments, drilled brake rotors and painted calipers), ambient lighting, heated front seats, a Burmester sound system and wireless smartphone charging. Add it all up and what do you get? An A-Class with a $46K price tag.

Why Did We Get It
We want to see if this newest entry-level Mercedes can live up to the standard set by the three-pointed star on the hood. We've also liked this car in our early testing, so why not experience it for a full year? Put it on the road for 12 months and 20,000 miles of road trips, daily commuting, and the gauntlet that is Los Angeles traffic, then see if it comes out clean on the other side. Follow our journey as we spend the next 365 days living with a 2019 Mercedes-Benz A 220. We'll report back on all our findings along the way.

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Real-World Fuel Economy

In the beginning of our test of the A220, we averaged 24.6 mpg, which is just above the EPA's city estimate for the Mercedes, and now we're up to 25.2 mpg. Unfortunately, that's still well below the combined estimate of 28 mpg — some highway trips should help things improve.

Average lifetime mpg: 25.4
EPA mpg rating: 28 combined (24 city/35 highway)
Best fill mpg: 35.0
Best range: 423.0 miles
Current odometer: 7,977 miles

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Maintenance

Early in our experience with the A 220, we had a bit of a scare. The airbag warning (also known as SRS) came on so we took it immediately to the nearest dealer.

Maintenance Summary

Total routine maintenance costs $ 0
Additional maintenance costs none
Warranty repairs 1
Non-warranty repairs none
Scheduled dealer visits none
Unscheduled dealer visits 1
Days out of service none
Breakdowns stranding driver none
Total body repair costs none

Recalls applicable to this vehicle

See all recalls on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220

"On Monday the 'Active Brake Assist Functions Limited' warning greeted me when I started the A 220. These features are accident-mitigation based and include the distance warning, autonomous braking, situation-dependent braking and evasive steering. There were no noticeable performance limitations while I drove around town. I'm going to say that's because I didn't have an emergency situation. Still the alert remained lit up each time I started the car for the next three days. On Friday it was gone and has not returned now for four days." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"We had a bit of a scare recently, when the A 220 flashed a red seatbelt icon that read "SRS Malfunction" across the instrument cluster. SRS stands for Supplemental Restraint System, and it means that something is causing the airbags or safety systems to not work properly. We called the dealership where the vehicle was purchased, and popped in the next day to have it serviced. The technician said the problem is common with newer vehicles, and they would need the weekend to diagnose and fix it. Fearing that a faulty sensor would need to be fully replaced, we prepared for the worst. Luckily, it didn’t take that long. Turns out, the sensor software only needed to reboot, at no charge. We had the car back by the end of the day and even got a free car wash. All in all, a favorable experience and the kind of service you’d expect upon joining the luxury car club." — Ryan ZumMallen, manager, reviews editor

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Performance

The Mercedes-Benz A 220 has a small, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. While that may not seem like a lot in a luxury sedan, it's enough for our editors - so far.

Logbook Highlights

"I previously complained that I didn't like the A 220 in stop-and-go situations and that I'd try adjusting my driving habits to better suit the dual-clutch transmission. Well, it seems to be working.

There is definitely a finesse and patience required to smooth these starts. But it feels like I've got it now. So at this time I'd like to strike my former criticism of the system. I hesitate to give it a complete pass, as it shouldn't take weeks to master such a thing. Still I will promote this characteristic from crutch to quirk." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"This is one of the few cars where I leave stop/start enabled. The engine shuts off quietly at stops and only makes a small to moderate impulse when restarting. I noticed the transmission would get flummoxed during moderate acceleration immediately following a restart, but this only happened occasionally." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

"I love how small and sporty the A220 feels on the road. You can easily shoot little gaps in traffic and parking garages alike mdash; there's a sense that you're sharper and nimbler than everything around you. Throw in a zesty turbocharged four-cylinder that punches well above its 188-horsepower rating, and you've got a recipe for real driving engagement on a daily basis. Who needs the supposedly sportier CLA? This A220 has plenty of zest for my taste." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy

"Our A220's transmission performance is something to keep an eye on. It's a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and sometimes it feels like it's still learning how to drive. More than once I've been caught out in the middle of an intersection, turning left at low speed and feeling the transmission stutter and sputter as I give it some gas. Maybe we're just breaking it in? I hope so, because the rest of this car works so well, it'd be a shame for something as fundamental as transmission refinement to let it down." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Comfort

If it's going to sport the three-pointed star on the roof, this baby Mercedes has to look and feel like a full-grown Merc. That means impressive build-quality and nice soft-touch surfaces, but it also needs to have a comfortable ride on the highway.

Logbook Highlights

"I piled the family into the Mercedes for a socially-aware road trip to the poppy fields in Lancaster, California. Our round trip was 250 miles and about two hours each direction. The adults up-front (6'2" and 5'8") had our seats back enough to provide ample legroom without encroaching on the kids' (both sub-5') legs. The swooping arch of the seat backs deserve the credit. It was a snug fit all around but still enough space to keep the complainers quiet." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"After 90 minutes behind the wheel, I like the A 220's driver seat. When I first slid into it, the cushions felt firm and I was skeptical. But in time my first impressions faded away to supportive-and-cozy without my noticing. The extendable thigh cushion on the seat-bottom and adjustable lumbar were a definite compliment to overall comfort. Now, I don't think 90 minutes is the test of a true road-tripper. I'll test those chops with a longer drive later. For now, I'm a fan." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"I drove about 100 miles in the A 220 today, both on local highways and city streets. The ride quality is akin to a sporty car, as you might expect. When you encounter significant impacts, you're going to feel them like you would in a sports car. But in most situations it is compliant and perfectly acceptable for everyday driving. I have no complaints. I've only tried comfort mode so far, not any other settings." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"As some others have pointed out, these seats aren't great. They're too firm and bolstered in all the wrong places. They were fine over my commute, but during a long day behind the wheel with my wife over the weekend, we were both ready to get out. This isn't a car I could recommend taking on a trip, and I avoided taking it for a long weekend when my family was in town. I hope they break in a little more over the course of our test, but initial impressions were pretty low." — Reese Counts, vehicle testing editor

"As someone on the more petite side, I was disappointed in the comfort level of the A 220. I did have plenty of legroom and space. But I could not adjust the driver seat to an ideal comfort level, although to its credit, there are plenty of options for most to have ideal seat placement. Additionally, the center console, which featured the resting square (best way to describe it) was awkward and seemed to be an unnecessary accessory. " — Jodi Tourkow, senior director, written content

"There's nothing that Mercedes hasn't thought of here. The A-Class seats are perfectly suited for comfortable cruising with leather quality and power adjustment that work together like a dream. Likewise, the materials and insulation throughout the cabin are top notch. Over the holiday break we took several jaunts across greater Los Angeles for parties, birthday dinners and downtown play days. The A 220 emerged from freeway battle a winner each time. It's a very cohesive experience. The one hiccup is right at the start, when a quick shift into drive sometimes overrides the automatic electronic parking brake before it's ready. The nine-speed transmission is also abrupt right off the line. But combine increasingly smooth shifts with a 'Comfort' drive mode that makes the A 220 glide and it's hard to imagine better execution overall." — Ryan ZumMallen, manager, reviews editor

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Technology

We're big fans of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) interface. It's one of the best-looking infotainment systems on the market today and it's ultra-easy to operate. Our A 220's optional Burmester sound-system however, isn't nearly as impressive.

Logbook Highlights

"I was smitten by the MBUX system on Day 1. It offers voice commands to control most of my in-car needs, the language is logical and it simplifies an interface that can otherwise overwhelm with features and customization. Voice commands are my favorite. My editorial cohorts agree. MBUX makes an outstanding first impression.

Now it's about Day 15 and I am falling out of smitten, at least with the voice experience. The 'Hey Mercedes' prompts take awhile to fire up. I can't just start the car and call out a navigation command or change the radio station. Well, I can, but I'll be talking to myself for the first five minutes. It is frustrating. Apple CarPlay is a fallback but I wish it didn't have to be.

My extended stay in the Mercedes continues as long as the quarantine does. So I'm going to spend more time with MBUX and see if I can rekindle the flame I once held for it. Admittedly, I haven't yet looked into the Mercedes Me App. That's next. More to come on this." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

"The display screen is a nice-size and is comparable to other sedans of this size. And, while the touch controller on the center console is easy to access and is a nice touch, it was too sensitive for my liking. Any accidental brush of the controller with my arm or object would cause the music channel to change or inadvertently change the channel settings. There may be a way to adjust the sensitivity, but I could not find out how." — Jodi Tourkow, senior director, written content

"The voice recognition system in the A 220 may be the best I’ve ever experienced. If you’re entering an address or destination, it almost always understands correctly on the first try – even one, like the old-timey Musso & Frank restaurant in Hollywood, that would be easy to mess up. Unfortunately, activating it takes some practice. There’s a handy switch located right on the steering wheel, but pressing it sometimes does absolutely nothing – especially right when the car is started, which is when you need it most. Still, I’m a fan. I’ve avoided voice recognition for years because it never seemed worth the hassle. Now, at least one automaker has turned the corner." — Ryan ZumMallen, manager, reviews editor

"While I like the touchpad on the center console for controlling the Mercedes interface, it's far less effective when using Android Auto. It doesn't really do... anything. And the absence of a tune/track change switch physical controller means you can't scrub through podcasts unless you use the touchscreen. Fortunately the touchscreen isn't too far away, but other interfaces do this better." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

"Burmester, shmurmester. This ostensibly fancy stereo has no bass. I cranked it all the way up and still didn’t get any thump. Beyond that, I’d say the overall sound quality is just OK. It reminds me of the Bose setups in Mazdas that give Bose a bad name — there are plenty of good Bose stereos in other brands, but Mazda seems to buy the cheapest components, and the result is a premium stereo in name only. I’m afraid I’m putting the A220’s Burmester in the same category. I wouldn’t waste my money on option; the base stereo can’t be that much worse." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy

"The stereo in this thing is not what you'd expect from a premium brand, especially not what you'd expect from an upgraded stereo from a premium brand. Sound quality is middling at best and volume leaves a lot to be desired. If I'm spending $50k on a $35k Mercedes, I want a stereo that can crank way too high. I'd leave the Mercedes optional sound system off the options list and go to a reputable local stereo facility instead. Then at least I'll get some decent bass." — Travis Langness, reviews editor

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Interior

Over the life of the A 220, we'll be paying special attention to the interior. The entry-level luxury class is full of strong rivals and interior refinement can really help or hurt a vehicle's score in this segment.

Logbook Highlights

"I drove our A220 for the first time yesterday, and based on everything my coworkers had said, I was ready to fall in love immediately. Instead, I just really like it. First, the good stuff. It's hard to understate how much this A-Class is over the old CLA. The cabin looks incredible for a car starting under $35,000, and our long-termer's red and black color scheme really drives that home. I dig the ambient lighting setup, which allows you to choose different colors for the two light strips, and you can even have them change for a fluctuating look at night. The ride is also super comfortable, which is the direct opposite of the previous CLA.

Dislikes are mostly limited to our spec. The sunroof eats up just enough headroom that I can't sit comfortably without slouching down. Our tester also doesn't have satellite radio — an unfortunate side effect of limited dealer availability at the time we leased our A 220. The dual-clutch transmission, while better than before, remains slightly clunky for a luxury application." — Cameron Rogers, reviews editor

"This car is pretty slick. I really like the interior layout. The dual screen setup, the vents, the center console, and everything else are very similar (if not the same) as the rest of the Mercedes lineup. This through-line of design is clever because even though you're driving the smallest, least expensive Mercedes, you don't feel like you're missing out on the character of the brand." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

"Has anyone else noticed a vibration at idle? I feel it the most when I'm stopped at a light with my foot on the brake pedal. In this situation, the sound of the engine idling is rather prominent, and I can feel a heavy vibration through the brake pedal. It seems to go away after a long drive, indicating it's tied to a cold engine/transmission, but I get it throughout my 30-45 minute commute." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

"I'm overall really impressed with how thoughtful Mercedes was about the user experience in the A Class. And not just MBUX, but the fact that you can do things like tap the brake twice at a stop to set brake hold for the duration of that stop (which actually makes brake hold useful). But they really missed on driver-seat exit assist (or whatever they call it).

When turned on, it moves the seatback into a more upright position to help you get in and out of the low car, which makes sense (bigger cars with longer doors tend to move the seats back). But the steering column is manually adjustable, so the steering wheel stays right where you set it instead of moving up and back. That means that the exit assist just pushes you closer to the wheel and winds up making getting in and out more of a squeeze (at least if you're built like me)." — Will Kaufman, content strategist

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Utility

It might be small, but so far, the A 220 is mighty (at least when it comes to cargo space).

Logbook Highlights

"As usual, my wife and I packed way too much stuff for a weekend getaway with friends. The A 220 has a small trunk, but it easily swallowed our luggage, backpacks, oversized purses and assorted shoeboxes. On the way home it fit bag after bag of food and beverages that weren't consumed in the hotel. There is enough hidden storage that we could store phones, cords and small snacks out of sight to keep the car clean when visitors tagged along. Our biggest complaint was a lack of suitable ceiling handles. In their absence we realized how much my wife relies on them to get out of the seat, or just relax on a long drive, and I had a tough time hanging my new suit from the teensy hook above the rear seat." — Ryan ZumMallen, reviews editor

2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A220: Miscellaneous

Logbook Highlights

"The Mercedes is spending more time parked than I'd like due to these stay-at-home conditions. Quarantine chalk art has started cropping up around it." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"I was standing outside of the Mercedes talking to my dad this morning when I caught a glimpse of this trim piece on the roof. Something looked off. It wasn't by much but sure enough, the back of it was lifting. I found the groove it should've snapped into and tried to re-affix it. No luck. I think we chalk this one up to a build quality hiccup." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"Check out the stylized tailpipes on the A 220. They look great. So how did they do that? Well, they didn't. It's just for looks. Back there behind the bumper is where the exhaust tips are really hiding. The A 220 isn't the only car to do this, but seeing it still makes me a little sad." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations

"The A-Class has a really rough idle on occasion. It seems like the car is hesitating while trying to decide if it's going to shut off using stop/start. There's a audible buzz coming from the engine. You feel it, too, especially in the pedal and the floorboard. It almost sounds like something is off, so I'm curious if it's going to get worse over time. I really like this car, but I expect more refinement from a Mercedes-Benz." — Reese Counts, vehicle testing editor

"A few years ago, when we first started noticing mega puddle lamps (i.e., elaborate logo lights that shine on the ground when you open the door), we memorably dubbed the Ford Mustang's equine-themed effort "horse lasers." Well, now everyone's got lasers. To wit, check out our entry-level Mercedes over here. Pop the door at night and BLAMMO, hope you like your three-pointed star big and bright. Is it old-fashioned of me to pine away for the days when Mercedes led the way in understated luxury — when the brand's blingiest touch was a demure little star poking out of the hood? Answer: Yeah, probably. But for the record, I don't think the world is better for having Benz Lasers in it." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy