2019 Mercedes-Benz A 220: What's It Like to Live With?
We put an A220 through its paces for nearly 20,000 miles.
|Miles Driven||Average MPG|
Latest Highlights (updated 11/30/21)
- Best-in-class MBUX infotainment system is an interior highlight
- Sporty driving experience without an AMG badge
- Dual-clutch transmission shifts poorly
- Underwhelming optional Burmester stereo
- Cramped rear seat and trunk limit utility
What We Bought And Why
• Our test vehicle: 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A 220
• 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.
What Did We Learn?
We drove the A 220 for well over a year, putting just over 18,000 miles on the odometer. And, honestly, it was a mixed bag. There was a lot to like about the Merc upfront, with initial quality and drivability being high on the list. Over time, however, the dual-clutch automatic developed some annoying tendencies, like lurching forward at slow speeds.
Most of our drivers had good things to say about the MBUX system and just how sleek the infotainment display looked. The interior was a highlight too. With lots of soft-touch surfaces and seemingly high-end materials, it didn't seem like a very entry-level luxury vehicle at all. There were some frays in the interior over time, especially in high-traffic areas like the seat bolsters, which made it feel a bit less premium. Despite the AMG Line package that we added, there weren't many complaints about ride quality or noise in the cabin. Plenty of us enjoyed the sporty driving experience.
Handling and steering? Excellent. Power? Some think it could've used a bit more. The standard four-cylinder engine in the A 220 provides 188 horsepower and is enough in most scenarios, though highway passing requires planning. Some extra oomph would've been appreciated to match the sporty nature of the AMG suspension and wheels. Fuel economy was a bit middling too, with a lifetime average of just 25.4 mpg. That didn't come close to the A 220's EPA estimate of 28 mpg combined, and it only just beat the city estimate of 24 mpg.
What's the Bottom Line?
We liked the A 220 for its classy looks, high-end interior, and long list of available options. The starting price, however, ballooned quickly once we added said options. And the interior materials didn't stand up to our daily use as well as expected. These issues weren't enough to steer us away from the Mercedes, however, and after a year in our fleet, we still felt it deserved being anointed the Edmunds Top Rated small luxury sedan.
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.
2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class A 220: Real-World Fuel Economy
In the beginning of our test of the A 220, 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: 17,285 miles
|Total routine maintenance costs||$387.54|
|Additional maintenance costs||$229.95|
|Scheduled dealer visits||1|
|Unscheduled dealer visits||1|
|Days out of service||0|
|Breakdowns stranding driver||0|
|Total body repair costs|
Recalls applicable to this vehicle
"Recently, we had some issues with our long-term A 220. There were some seriously rough shifts and we took it to the dealer for inspection. After two days in the dealer's hands, here's what the printout said:
"Was able to duplicate customer concern 4 out of 8 times in both sport and comfort settings going from 1-2 upshift, approximately 15-20 mph. Harsh clutch engagement and shift characteristics noted. Connected SDS & BATT charger. Performed quick test. No current or relevant fault codes present related to customer concern. Found no related tips documents. Performed DCT fluid level check per shop foreman recommendation. DCT fluid level ok, within specs at dipstick marking 5 at 158F degrees. Instructed to perform full basic transmission adaptations to re learn shift and wet clutch application characteristics. Performed full basic transmission adaptations via SDS. Peformed QC road test. Shift pattern and clutch application in both comfort & sport settings by 99% after adaptations."
So, they fixed it, right? When I picked the car up, the service advisor was a bit wishy-washy. He told me all the services they performed, but wouldn't quite admit that there was something mechanically wrong with the car. He blamed the driving characteristics on the nature of a DCT. While there are some jerky moments with DCTs, I can't agree with him that this behavior is normal in the A 220 & especially knowing what it was like early in life and now after we've put some miles on the clock. So, with no charge from the dealer, and the simeltaneous claim of a fix (still a bit puzzled how that's supposed to line up), the car is now back in our hands. Time to take it out on the road and see if these "fixes" have done anything to change the rough shift characteristics." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"After confirming our troubles with the A 220 across multiple drivers (see the earlier blog posts for details) I made an appointment with the local dealership for service. The A 220's transmission doesn't have great off-the-line starts to begin with, but after 10,000 miles, our long-term A 220 is a whole lot worse.
I explained the issue thoroughly to both the service advisor and his technician. They asked several questions regarding the timing of the issue, whether the car was cold or warm, and what drive mode I was in — all good questions in my mind. I left it in their hands overnight and got a call the next day, asking if they could take it for an extended drive.
After the technician drove the car home for the night, the service advisor called me the next morning. They had a long list of checks they'd done and a few fixes that they said had addressed the problem. Next up — what did they do — and did it work?" — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"Our A 220 recently alerted us to the need for it's 10,000-mile service. I scheduled an appointment with our local Mercedes dealership and I was fit in the next day. The service included an oil change, a rotation of the tires and a check of the brakes. The brakes were fine, and the oil change went well but an inspection of the wear on the tires showed some irregularities so the dealer recommended an alignment. A day later, the Merc was washed, the oil was changed, the tires were rotated and the alignment was all sorted out. The total tab? $617.59. Woof.
Here's how that breaks down. Alignment: $229.95. Oil change (6 quarts of Synthetic 5W40 and a filter): $285.69. Rotate and balance tires: $101.95. We were in a rush to get this service done so we took it to the closest dealer and didn't haggle about prices. Considering how pricey this service was though, we'll likely be looking into independent shops for the 20,000-mile service." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"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
"While the A 220 has been in our fleet for well over a year, it's still below the 15,000-mile mark. Yes, some of that is the extended stay-at-home orders that were in place throughout 2020, but I think more of it has to do with the way our Merc is equipped. One upgrade I would get, is Satellite Radio. Unfortunately, on this trim of the A 220, it wasn't even available, so an upgrade is impossible with the stock infotainment system - but aftermarket isn't out of the question. Another upgrade I'd make would be some better wheels and tires. I'd either lean-in to the sporty side and get something more aggressive so it would grip better in the corners, or I'd get something with more sidewall to soak up the bumps a bit better on highway road trips. Next, the upgraded stereo from Mercedes isn't even close to being worth the price, so I'd add an amp and some better speakers (definitely a subwoofer) to give it some extra kick in the audio department. And finally, I'd add 4Matic (all-wheel-drive). There were a number of trips I took this past year that required all-wheel-drive and the Merc simply wasn't an option. It would have a lot more miles on the odometer if all four wheels were driven." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"Whatever the problem is with our long-term A 220, it hasn't gone away, even after a "fix" from the dealer. The abrupt, aggressive, jerky shifts off the line are a bit less pronounced from time to time, but they are still present for sure. Even after a dealer visit where they did some transmission service, it still kicks like a mule. Set off from a stop without an ultra-smooth right foot and the car will jerk forward-back-forward and then bog down before eventually shifting to second and moving forward as normal. It's embarrassing when you've got passengers, it's physically uncomfortable, and it's certainly not something that's befitting or acceptable from something with a luxury badge on the nose. If this is indeed the way it's supposed to drive simply based on the dual-clutch and 2.0-liter-four-cylinder combo, it's an outright deal-breaker for me. Hopefully there's a solution in the Merc's future." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"While the A 220 looks sporty, especially with the AMG wheels and the dual exhaust, the 188 hp engine is lacking. The power is enough for on-ramps and the occasional dash away from the lights, but it's not enough for passing manuvers on the highway when you're fully loaded. Put four passengers in this thing, and you'll be wishing for more power on a long, uphill grade too. If you're on a solo road trip, it's not too bad, but if you were taking your family on regular vacations in the A class, you might want a bit more power." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"Driving the A 220 in Sport mode is my preference. Eco and Comfort are far too light-footed when it comes to throttle calibration, especially off the line in the city. There's even a bit of head-jostling jerking from the transmission as the vehicle shifts into second gear — so you have to get your right foot used to the sweet spot in the gas pedal. This choice of drive mode means a bit of a decrease in fuel economy, but it makes the day-to-day driving of the Merc much more enjoyable." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"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 A 220 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 A 220 has plenty of zest for my taste." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy
"Our A 220'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 A 220: 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.
"The air conditioning in our A 220 is a bit weak, and at full-blast, it's pretty loud. It takes a bit longer than I'd like to cool the cabin, even on a mildly-warm (80-degree) summer day, but it gets there eventually. When it's really hot (into the 90's) and I turn the A/C to maximum speed, it's loud. It's uncharacteristically wheezy for a luxury car (or any car in this price range)." — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor
"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 A 220: 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.
"The center touchpad in this A 220 is way too sensitive. Just a brush across it and it changes songs, thanks to the track-selection being a part of the touch pad. My passenger picked up their phone while in the car and the song selection changed, which was confusing. But when it did it again, I realized, it was the chord swiping across the track-selection section of the touchpad, so it's not even sophisticated enough to know what's a human finger and what's not. Not the end of the world, but annoying nonetheless." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"While the A 220 has been in our fleet for well over a year, it's yet to break the 15,000-mile mark. Yes, some of that is the stay-at-home year that was 2020, but this thing just isn't as enjoyable to drive over long distances as it could be. One upgrade I would get, is Satellite Radio. Unfortunately, on this trim of the A 220, it wasn't even available, so an upgrade is impossible. Another upgrade would be some better wheels and tires. I'd either lean-in to the sporty side and get something more aggressive so it would grip better in the corners, or I'd get something with more sidewall to soak up the bumps a bit better on highway road trips. The upgraded stereo isn't worth the price, so I'd add an amp and some better speakers (definitely a subwoofer) to give it some extra kick in the audio department. And finally, I'd add 4Matic (all-wheel-drive). There were a number of trips I took this last year that required all-wheel-drive and the Merc simply wasn't an option. It would have a lot more miles on the odometer if all four wheels were driven." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"I love that the A 220 has temperature sensors in the tires. Along with tire pressure, tire temp is a super helpful metric when you're driving particularly hard (like at a track day) or when you're in cold-weather situations. It helps you understand that PSI might be different on the left than the right because temp is different - if you've been parked with one side of your car in the sun for instance. That'll keep you from trying to even out the PSI on one side or the other if you're like me and you want them all to be perfect, all the time." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"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 A 220’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
"The stitching on the rear seats of our A 220 is starting to fray. It's not the end of the world — but it's pretty surprising to see in a "luxury" sedan that we paid nearly $50k for. Wonder if this is covered under warranty..." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"I like the dashboard on our A 220 quite a bit, but one thing I'm not wild about is the position of the stop-start button and the auto-stop-start button. For starters, they're behind the steering wheel and hard to see when you get into the car — especially so when it's dark out. I always have to lean around the steering wheel to start up the Merc. They also share a space, so when the A 220's super-aggressive stop-start system kicks in, I want it off, immediately, and I've hit the turned the car off on accident at least once. Points lost for ergonomics here." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"While I'm a fan of the simplicity of the A 220's center console, the controls seem to value form over function. The "next track" selection means swiping your finger across a touchpad that you can't see without looking away from the road. The volume control is a roll-up or roll-down kind of rolling wheel, but there's no knob option — the steering wheel uses the same kind of rolling wheel and it's not ideal or easy to use without looking for it. The center console has nice symmetry but it's not easy to remember where the selection for the drive modes is, even after a week in the car." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The air-conditioning in this A 220 is really weak. On a hot day, the cooling system can't keep up. The fans don't blow hard enough and the air-conditioning isn't cool enough. For a luxury car, I find this lack of comfort completely unacceptable. Even on a slightly-warm day it has a hard time keeping up — that's pretty bad when you consider how small the cabin is too. I've brought this weak-A/C issue up before, but it's worth noting again as California is faced with some pretty intense heat waves." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The A 220's little touch-sensitive swipey-pad thingys on the steering wheel are nice, but they don't function very well when they're smudged or covered up with hand grease. And, since they're on the steering wheel, they get a lot of that. I've found it super helpful to just carry some cleaning solution and a rag for both the touchscreen and these little buttons, but I'm not sure that's something every owner would want to do." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"The A 220 feels premium from the moment you get in it and the ambient lighting is a big part of that. Every passenger that sees the blue streaks of light across the dash and underneath the doors says something like "Whoa, that's really cool!" or "Oh man, that's amazing!" and all it took was some well-placed LEDs." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"I drove our A 220 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
"The A 220's rear seats fold down, but it's more of a passthrough than it is a true fold-flat surface. Sure, the trunk is flat, but the cross-member at the top of the trunk keeps you from storing any really-large items in the trunk that's otherwise large-enough to accommodate big boxes. Sometimes, layouts like this are what really keep a car's cargo space from being useful, rather than numbers like cubic-feet of cargo space. That's why I'd much prefer something like an A 220 hatchback." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"In another display of decent-cargo-space-for-the-class, the A 220 was able to swallow up all my bags for a recent road trip. Lots of duffels, camping gear and backpacks - no problem. After several trips in this car, I've discovered that it has more than enough space for me, but is that enough? What if I were going with a spouse, or kids? For that increase in humans and requisite baggage, there's definitely not enough space. This is a single-human car that can accommodate some friends along the way, but you'll have to pack light if you're trying to take the whole family on a trip." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"After unloading a few big camping totes from an SUV, I was surprised that I was able to fit them both into the trunk of the A 220 without issue. Side by side, the two large plastic bins slid right in, wedged up against the lip of the trunk and I didn't even have to put the seat down. Nice." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"When you need to make a run to the hardware store to refill four propane tanks and buy several bags of mulch for the yard, you really notice the 8.6 cubic feet of cargo space in the A 220. Even the A3 has 50 percent more cargo space in the trunk — which would've been enough to fit the other plants I bought while I was out. Instead, I had to load several plants and some extra mulch into the back seat. This is not a family sedan — it's a single-person sedan with a back seat and a trunk to match." — Travis Langness, reviews editor
"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
"Something's up with the A220's transmission. It's got some odd lurches when accelerating, especially with a light foot/part throttle. It's not every time, but it happens enough for me to know something's wonky. A few first-to-second gear shifts were clunky and very uncharacteristic. It's certainly not how I remember it being when it was new. Time for a service call, I say." — Mark Takahashi, Senior Reviews Editor
"Something is wrong with our A 220. From a start, the throttle is nearly impossible to modulate. The car is either uncharacteristically sluggish or it jumps off the line. If it jumps, then it shutters, stutters and lurches to life, eventually shifting into what seems like second gear and moving forward normally. I'm able to recreate this in several different scenarios, but the next step is making sure I'm not the only driver experiencing it (see: rule out user-error). So, for now, I'll hand it off to someone else on the team and see if they have the same experience." — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor
"When I parked next to a white Civic Type-R with black wheels, in our white A 200 with black AMG wheels, I couldn't help but wonder which one of these two four-doors I'd pick given the chance. I know they aren't even remotely competitors, but when you start to build a venn diagram and fill in the facts about these two cars, there's a lot of overlapping territory.
The Civic's starting price is $36,995 with the A 220 checking in at $32,800 (these are 2020 model-year prices) so the A 220 wins there. With the Merc however, there are a lot of available options - a Type R offers literally no options. As equipped, our long-term A 220 came with a sticker price of $46,160, but there are some options I'd definitely skip, so I priced one out for myself.
I'd skip the Burmester sound system ($850) but I'd keep the AMG line option ($2,600), the Multimedia package ($1,150) and the Premium package ($2,200). Add all that up and you've got an MSRP of $39,745. That's not too far off the Civic's price.
The Civic offers pure driving thrills, the engagement of rowing your own gears and the heritage that comes with the Type-R name. And it's actually way more practical, with a larger back seat, and three times the cargo space in the trunk. The Mercedes however, offers some serious luxury. Even as an entry-level model it feels refined, it's quiet on the highway and it's pretty fun to drive - even if it's down on power by nearly 50%.
Maybe this was just a silly hypothetical scenario and I let my brain wander too far, but when you price a Mercedes this low and a Civic this high, it's a choice I'd seriously consider if they were parked next to each other at the dealership. Seeing as how I already own two Honda-powered vehicles, there's a high probability I'd go for the Type-R. The Benz makes a pretty good case for itself though, especially if you're trying to impress the other entry-level execs at the new office." — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor
"In terms of design this car hits it out of the park. Many people walked over to me and asked what type of car it was and complimented me on how handsome the car is. There is no doubt that the pearl white exterior, black AMG wheels, and black and red interior help the car out to look sporty. In fact, at one point, I parked the car next to another base A 220 and it was shocking how the color combo and sporty wheels made our car "pop." When it comes to the interior design the car is also strikingly handsome." — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor
"I like to think that some of the A 220's appeal is visual. I prefer it (visually at least) to the CLA and I like that the A-class embraces the sort-of stumpy trunk look. Instead of trying to look longer and sleeker, it's more aggressive with its character lines. The optional AMG wheels we've got on ours help too. For a relatively-entry-level luxury sedan, it gets a lot of attention." — Travis Langness, Reviews Editor
"I have the darnedest time closing the doors on this thing. Some cars (Corvettes come to mind) seal so tightly that the last door (or hatch) to be closed requires a slam to seal properly. I can't tell you how many times one of us has 'closed' the door on this A 220 only to be met with the red 'door open' warning on the instrument panel. If a window is cracked open or another door ajar, you'd never notice the issue. Otherwise, be ready to put some muscle into it." — Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing Operations
"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