2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (4)
  • Comparison (1)
  • Long-Term
 

Read the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250's long-term updates.

What We Got
A 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 went on our buy-list well before the new sedan hit dealers. It was an interesting addition to the Mercedes-Benz lineup. It had unique styling, front-wheel drive and a base price of around $30K. It was new territory for the German automaker, one that had huge potential but was also a huge risk.


2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

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We optioned our CLA250 with what we anticipated to be the most popular equipment. Standard equipment included the 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission, front-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, eight-way seats, MBTex upholstery and mbrace2 emergency system integration.

Optional items included the Premium package ($2,300), with its dual-zone climate control, heated front seat and auto-dimming mirrors. The Multimedia package ($2,370) increased the display screen size to 7 inches and added a rearview camera, CD changer, Harman Kardon sound system, 10GB hard drive, navigation and voice commands.

All together, our Cirrus White 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 cost $35,000 even.

Performance

  • "It's surprisingly nimble. While driving the mountain roads selected for its photo shoot, the CLA250 demonstrated the sort of darty, light-on-its-toes feel I expect from the best compact front drivers. That turbo-4 has plenty of right-now, low-end power and its gearbox is quick-acting." — James Riswick
  • "Don't get me wrong, our CLA is not uncomfortable on the road, but it does have the distinct feel of a sport sedan. Its responses are sharp and there's a good feel for the pavement. I would have guessed it had a sport package of some kind but it doesn't." — Ed Hellwig

MPG

  • "Its distance-to-empty readout told me I had about 30 miles remaining before it switched to the less-precise 'Low Fuel Level' warning. At the same time the navigation system asked me if I wanted to see nearby fuel stations. When I agreed, it pulled up a list of stations right off the freeway." — Josh Jacquot
  • "...eight miles toward my destination there were multiple gas stations, 20 miles back toward home there was one. Being able to find a gas station in a pinch is a wonderful feature, however my take-aways are: 1) don't push it when it comes to fuel; and, 2) don't trust Comand unless you have time to kill." — John Calderwood

Comfort

  • "The ride quality is tough to take. I feel every imperfection in the road when I drive the CLA250, and given all the grooves and seams on our Southern California roads, it eventually starts to give me a headache...to me, this is too big a tradeoff on a semi-sporty sedan with all-season tires." — Erin Riches
  • "For me (I'm 5-feet-10-inches tall), the driver seat is comfortable and I don't have any issue being in the seat for four to six hours. I also like the driving position. I'm able to adjust the seat to my liking, and the view out the windshield is pretty wide." — Brent Romans

Cargo Space

  • "You'll see we managed to fit three medium-size suitcases, a small briefcase-size bag, a grocery bag, a 24-pack box of assorted beer collected throughout the journey and a 21-inch computer display.... There's no way I could fit all that in the Audi A3's rinky-dink trunk." — James Riswick
  • "On paper, the Benz's 13.1 cubic-feet of cargo capacity is good for a compact car. But inside the trunk, it's the mostly smooth floor and sides that help make it so usable. Fold down the rear seat backs and you've got a surprisingly capable cargo hauler." — John DiPietro

Interior

  • "For the interior, that translates into a seating environment that could be described as either cramped or intimate depending on your viewpoint. This isn't to say that the driving position isn't conducive for tall people...the all-around space will seem more like a small coupe's rather than the stretch-out space provided by a traditional luxury sedan." — Brent Romans
  • "Last weekend I installed two Britax child seats in our CLA250. The car's lower anchors are exposed so that part was easy and secure. However, the top tether, which is located behind the rear headrests, was more difficult...the only way to latch the hook to the tether is to invert it, which twists the strap and makes it less secure, less safe and more difficult to tighten." — Josh Jacquot

Audio and Technology

  • "There's been quite a bit of talk about the navigation screen in our CLA250. Some say it looks tacked on, like something you would get when you order up a rental car with a Garmin setup. Sure, it's a different way of adding a screen to the dashboard, but I don't mind it much, mainly because it works so well." — Ed Hellwig
  • "Although every new car now sold in the United States has a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS), some only show the warning light, while others, like the CLA's, can display the actual tire pressures in real time. It's nice to see that Mercedes has equipped its most affordable model with this highly beneficial technology." — Scott Oldham

Maintenance

  • "The Comand screen started a persistent squeak within only four days and less than 400 miles into our time with the CLA250. Even the tiniest bump or road imperfection causes it, which makes it hugely annoying." — James Riswick
  • "I knew something more serious was going on. My first clue came when the transmission did not downshift as expected. A couple pulls of the left paddle corrected that, but then the throttle seemed to be working on its own schedule.... When I went to engage cruise control, however, it didn't work either." — James Riswick

Miscellaneous

  • "As it turned out, the cause of the excitement was a physical problem. A wiring harness is routed between the battery and air filter housing. Tight clearances caused it to rub against the edge of the air filter box until the wiring was compromised. Mercedes forums suggest that we aren't alone with this wear issue." — Mike Schmidt
  • "This is a 15.7-percent decrease in depreciation and is the lowest long-term car depreciation number in recent memory. This price was so good it nearly matched the Edmunds estimate for dealer retail price. It was a no-brainer to take the offer." — Ron Montoya

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Routine service is due on the CLA in 10,000-mile intervals. As such, we paid $230 for the 10K visit but sold the car prior to reaching 20K.

Service Campaigns:
In addition to one scheduled dealer stop, there were two others we had not anticipated. One of those was triggered by an engine light, error code P24D6, and remedied with an ECU reflash. The second was for a stability control fault that was ultimately the result of a wiring harness rubbing against neighboring parts under the hood. Gremlins surfaced in the form of antitheft and cruise control warning lights, though each was resolved with a simple on/off key cycle. Neither returned.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimates 30 mpg combined (26 city/38 highway) for the CLA250 with front-wheel drive. After nearly 20,000 miles we averaged 28 mpg. Our best single tank returned 37 mpg with a maximum range of 418 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:
We purchased our CLA250 for $35,000. After one year and 19,751 miles of service, Edmunds TMV Calculator valued the Mercedes at $28,467. We drove the car to CarMax for an estimate. It was $29,500. We couldn't hand over the key fast enough. This sale reflected just 16-percent depreciation and memorialized our CLA with the distinction of least-depreciated long-term car ever.

Summing Up

Pros: Sharp handling for a front-wheel-drive car, surprisingly gutsy engine, quick shifting transmission, easy-to-use navigation system, useful trunk space, great mileage if you're easy on throttle, exceptional resale value.

Cons: Stiff ride gets tiresome on bumpy roads, rear seats feel cramped, engine doesn't always sound very refined, we experienced several unexpected electronic issues.

Bottom Line: If the firm ride quality and tight rear seats don't bother you, then the rest of the Mercedes-Benz CLA won't disappoint. Its mix of luxury features, unique styling and strong resale value make it a strong contender among sport sedans in its price range.

 
Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $229.57 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: Repair squeaky Comand screen, ECU reflash, repair wiring harness
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 1
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Days Out of Service: 1
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
 
Best Fuel Economy: 37.2 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 16.0 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 28.4 mpg
 
True Market Value at service end: $28,467 (private party sale)
What It Sold for: $29,500
Depreciation: $5,500 (16% of paid price)
Final Odometer Reading: 19,751 miles

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.


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