2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: Palm Springs Road Trip
October 17, 2014
I hadn't driven our long-term 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 since my Redwoods Road Trip back in April, so I was interested to see if my impressions of the car had changed. Frankly, I haven't driven the CLA that much since then, as its well-documented transmission, throttle and ride issues make driving around Los Angeles a rather tiresome experience.
On the open road, however, they don't manifest themselves to the same degree. Though the drive to Palm Springs is about a sixth of what I did back in April, the CLA once again proved to be an agreeable road trip companion.
The seats offer a great mix of comfort and support, there are three cupholders, and the COMAND system serves up all the entertainment options one can expect these days. Dynamically, the steering is well-suited for straight-ahead highway going, the suspension proves to be well-damped when its rock-hard run-flat tires aren't faced with potholes, and the engine delivers abundant passing power and commendable fuel economy. I managed 33.2 mpg on the trip, which wasn't entirely highway.
If anything, this trip just cemented my disappointment with the CLA-Class. In many ways, it delivers exactly what I hoped for when we took delivery back in December: a well-equipped mini-Mercedes with more style than the typical $30,000-$35,000 sedan. It can be fun to drive, it's good on road trips, it has a useful trunk and to my eyes, its style makes its compromised back seat an acceptable trade-off. Yet, its herky-jerky transmission, spongy throttle and Flintstone ride around town make it a non-starter. Other Benzes don't suffer these fundamental problems and if Mercedes can fix them, I'd be back on board again.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 18,382 miles