2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Luxury-car status for a relatively affordable price
  • commendable power and handling
  • fiery performance from AMG model.
  • Sluggish throttle response and unrefined transmission
  • potentially harsh ride quality
  • cramped rear seat
  • limited rear visibility.
Other years
2016
Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class for Sale
2016
List Price Range
$14,499 - $23,991

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class' coupelike styling and relative affordability will appeal to buyers looking to move up to a luxury brand, but its ride, transmission and rear-seat space should give you pause.

Vehicle overview

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class continues to make ownership of a stylish, new luxury sedan accessible to more buyers. Mercedes introduced the CLA two model-years ago, touting a starting MSRP below $30,000. Some price increases since then have made the 2016 CLA not quite as affordable as the 2014, but nevertheless, the CLA remains part of a small group of compact luxury cars that start well below the entry point of a Mercedes-Benz C-Class and its ilk.

Although it makes concessions in certain areas to achieve a lower base price, it still feels like an authentic luxury sedan. High points for the CLA250 model we tested over the course of a year included a quiet cabin, balanced performance dynamics, impressive fuel economy, and user-friendly ergonomics. There's also the Edmunds "B" rated AMG CLA 45, which now cranks out an eye-popping 375 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. With standard all-wheel drive and revised transmission gear ratios, the CLA 45 is able to produce blistering sprints to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz.

While some buyers will be drawn to the coupelike silhouette of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, its segment competitors may offer slightly more practical or functional appeal for the money. For example, that attractive sloping roofline dramatically affects rear passenger headroom, while the CLA's overall compact size puts limits on rear legroom as well.

Ride quality might also be a concern. Mercedes-Benz tried to address initial ride comfort complaints by switching to a more compliant suspension setup for the 2015 CLA250, and making the sport suspension optional. However, we found that the run-flat tires affixed to the comfort-tune suspension are more likely the cause of the harshness experienced when going over bumps. A CLA equipped with the sport suspension and regular tires offers both handling and ride advantages. (You also won't have to deal with pricey run-flat tire replacement.) Also available this year is the new, optional adaptive/adjustable suspension dampers for both the CLA250 and CLA 45.

Even though the CLA starts at an attractively low base price, as you begin to specify options that are typically expected in a luxury car — like keyless entry and ignition, a rearview camera or heated seats — costs begin to add up quickly. And if you've had your eye on that AMG model, steady yourself to spend more than $50,000. Checking out the CLA's competition, the well-sorted 2016 Audi A3 stands as our top recommendation. If you opt for the smaller 1.8-liter engine, the Audi costs marginally less than a base model CLA. With the comparable 2.0-liter engine, the Audi slides past the CLA but adds all-wheel drive as standard equipment.

If rear passenger space is an issue, you could always consider the surprisingly spacious and refined Volkswagen GTI or the upper trim levels of any number of non-luxury midsize sedans. On the other end of the spectrum, there are lesser-equipped versions of bigger luxury sedans like the Acura TLX or BMW 320i. For performance-vehicle buyers looking at the AMG CLA 45, other strong competitors to consider include the 2016 Audi S3 and the 2016 BMW M235i. The S3 offers the same advantages of the A3 with a more accommodating and luxuriously appointed cabin, while the two-door M235i's handling dynamics are best in class. Depending on your preferences, each one of these vehicles will suit a specific buyer best. But only the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class provides the style and prestige that comes with owning a car with a tri-point star badge.

2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class models

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is a compact luxury four-door available in three trim levels: CLA250, CLA250 4Matic and AMG CLA 45.

The CLA250 comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory functions, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ambient interior lighting and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. Electronic features include a 7-inch central display, the COMAND interface, mbrace2 emergency communications (see Safety section), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, HD radio, a USB port, a media player interface, an auxiliary audio jack, and a CD player.

The CLA250 4Matic has the same standard equipment but has all-wheel drive.

The AMG CLA 45 is also equipped similarly. It has all-wheel drive as standard along with a more powerful engine, special AMG wheels, upgraded brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights/taillights, unique exterior and interior styling elements, and special seat upholstery consisting of MB-Tex and microfiber cloth.

All CLAs are eligible for the optional Premium package, which provides keyless ignition and entry, auto-dimming mirrors (rearview and driver side), heated front seats, satellite radio, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. The Multimedia package bundles a larger 8-inch central infotainment screen with a rearview camera, a navigation system and voice commands. The Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, lane departure intervention and blind-spot monitoring systems.

The Sport package for the CLA250 adds 18-inch wheels, more aggressive-looking body add-ons (front fascia, side sills, rear valance and grille), and drilled front brake rotors with painted calipers. The new Night package is similar but with black-colored trim details. For actual performance upgrades, go with the Sport Package Plus which adds (in addition to the regular Sport package) a sport-tuned suspension, wider high-performance tires, a sport exhaust, a more direct steering ratio, a sportier transmission shift mode, red brake calipers, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel, and upgraded seat upholstery. The Interior package adds leather upholstery, MB-Tex trim on the dash and doors, and ambient lighting.

Among the stand-alone options for the CLA250 only, you'll find bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, a sport-tuned suspension, premium suspension dampers (the Selective Damping System), and an eight-way power passenger seat (also with four-way power lumbar).

The AMG Dynamic package is exclusive to the CLA 45 and includes a limited-slip front differential, an adaptive suspension (available separately), selectable "Race" mode and a higher top-speed limiter. Standalone options for the CLA 45 include 19-inch wheels, an upgraded performance exhaust, interior and exterior carbon-fiber trim, sport front seats, an AMG steering wheel and red-painted brake calipers.

Stand-alone options for both models include a rear spoiler, a panoramic sunroof, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, an automated parking system, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, various wood interior trim choices, a Garmin navigation system and the Harman Kardon sound system.

2016 Highlights

For 2016, the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class receives a variety of updates. Mercedes has renamed the CLA's adjustable drive mode feature (now called "Dynamic Select"), introduced new optional suspension dampers (enhances performance driving without sacrificing ride comfort, Mercedes says) and added extendable front-seat thigh cushions. There's also a new black-themed exterior styling package. For the AMG CLA 45, hardware changes include more power and revised transmission gear ratios for improved acceleration. There's also a new AMG Dynamic Plus package with a limited-slip front differential, an adaptive suspension, and a higher top-speed limiter.

Performance & mpg

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 208 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automated manual transmission (with shift paddles) routes power to the front wheels on the standard CLA250, while the CLA250 4Matic model is all-wheel drive. The EPA's estimated fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive CLA250 is 30 mpg combined (26 city/38 highway), while the all-wheel-drive 4Matic checks in at 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway). In Edmunds testing, a CLA250 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is about average for an entry-level luxury sedan.

The AMG CLA 45 gets a more powerful version of this 2.0-liter engine that features fortified internal components. The result is 375 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, which is pretty much unheard of for a turbocharged four-cylinder. A quicker-shifting version of the seven-speed transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive and launch control. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 26 mpg combined (23 mpg city/31 mpg highway). We've yet to test this year's AMG with its increased power, but at the Edmunds test track, a 2015 CLA 45 AMG accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds. Certainly, it's one of the quickest compact sedans available.

Both the CLA250 and AMG CLA 45 feature an automatic stop-start function that, if engaged, turns off the engine when the car stops to save fuel.

Safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes, a driver knee airbag, front-seat side thorax airbags, front-seat side pelvic airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional. The AMG CLA 45 has a three-mode stability control system that allows drivers to tailor the level of intervention.

Technology-based safety systems are also available. The standard Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 emergency communications system includes services such as automatic collision notification, SOS call and assist, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery. Also standard are Collision Prevention Assist Plus which uses radar to identify potential frontal collision situations and intervenes with braking as necessary, and Attention Assist, which monitors the driver for signs of drowsiness and inattention. The Driver Assistance package includes a blind-spot warning system, a lane keeping assist system and Distronic Plus, which besides providing adaptive cruise control, enhances the existing frontal collision warning system by allowing it to operate at higher speeds. A rearview camera is available as a stand-alone option or within the Multimedia package.

During Edmunds track testing, the CLA250 came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet, while the CLA 45 needed just 111 feet, both about average for their respective segments.

Driving

Most will find the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 pleasant to drive on their daily commutes. Even if you've owned rear-wheel-drive Mercedes sedans in the past, you'll be hard-pressed to tell that the CLA250 is front-wheel drive, as it accelerates and steers with the precision of more elite Benz models. We generally like its athletic character and responsive steering that evokes "hot hatches" like the Volkswagen GTI — albeit a more luxurious one.

There are other aspects to the CLA, however, that serve as unfortunate reminders that you're driving an entry-level Mercedes-Benz. The dual-clutch automated manual transmission is slow to engage when accelerating slowly or in traffic, shifts can be jerky and the throttle is mushy and unresponsive. Then there's the ride quality. There are a lot of variables this year, including the standard, sport-tuned and adaptive suspensions, as well as the availability of run-flat tires. We've found the latter causes a harsh ride over bumps, and although we urge you to pay close attention to the ride during a test-drive, searching for a car with regular tires could be a good idea.

Meanwhile, with even more power this year, the 375-hp AMG CLA 45 promises to keep your heart racing. In addition to its sizzling acceleration, the CLA 45 has plenty of personality. Select Sport mode and you'll hear crackles and pops from the exhaust during both up- and downshifts. Around turns, the CLA 45 offers tenacious grip and guided-missile determination. But the cost of this handling prowess is an even firmer ride quality that might be too much even for drivers who want an authentic sport-sedan experience. Also, the CLA 45's performance-oriented brakes are very sensitive and grab with the slightest touch of the pedal. Lastly, with newly revised gear ratios for the seven-speed transmission, we're hoping Mercedes also took time to improve the over aggressive shift quality experienced in the 2015 model.

Interior

Although this is the bargain Benz, for the most part the CLA's interior looks and feels like a traditional Mercedes. Big analog gauges, a clean center stack design and tight fit and finish impart the classic, premium ambience shared across the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Overall interior quality is respectable for an entry-level luxury sedan, but it doesn't really strike us as being truly premium the way other Mercedes vehicles do.

One of the interior's weak spots is the central display screen, which looks like an aftermarket addition that's been bolted to the dash. It's part of the COMAND electronics interface, which has been updated with the latest software introduced in newer models like the C- and S-Class, but it lacks the new touchpad that goes along with those cars. Frankly, we haven't found the touchpad especially useful. The remaining buttons and knob get the job done, but this latest system update does seem to be a bit more confusing than its predecessor. It also takes some time to get used to selecting gears with a column-mounted stalk rather than a traditional console shifter.

While the front seats are quite comfortable on longer drives, the CLA's rear quarters aren't nearly as accommodating. The seats themselves are well-shaped and supportive, but the sloping roof line that gives the CLA its distinctive profile also translates to tight headroom for those of even average height, and the legroom situation isn't much better. The CLA is also ill-equipped for small children. The rear seat's non-removable headrests can make forward-facing car seat fitment tricky, and those small rear doors make it tough to get little ones in and out. Surprisingly, though, the CLA has a significant amount of trunk space for the class with 13.1 cubic feet.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Perfect car for me
Julie V.,08/18/2016
CLA 250 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
Over the years I have driven a bmw, Porsche, Saab, and several infinitis, the last a g35 coupe. It was a great, fun, fast car, but also uncomfortable inside and a gas guzzler. My new mercedes cla 250 doesn't have nearly the power, and the transmission in the economy mode is clunky, but it handles nicely, gets good gas mileage (I'm averaging 26.5 in the city), and is a great looking little car. If you turn off economy mode, the car is perkier and handles just fine. I hardly ever drive with anyone in the back seat, so its cramped nature bothers me not, especially after the coupe! At this stage in my life I don't want a big gas guzzling car, just a spiffy, well made, fun machine, and this one fits the bill. After one year I still love this car. We just returned from a 1,600 mile road trip, averaging 40 mpg! One day we even got 48. My husband, who drives a big SUV, really enjoyed the car on the highway. It is plenty peppy for passing, handles well and smoothly and is quiet. Another year has gone by and I’m still happy with my purchase. I should mention that I’m not that interested in the car’s technology, which I understand is sub par for a Mercedes. Also, this car is not for someone who wants speed. This is a small, unpretentious car with great handling and excellent fuel mileage....just what I want. Plus, it’s quite nice to look at.
2nd CLA
namegoeshere,04/28/2016
CLA250 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
We bought a bare-bones CLA the first year it came out. We were so impressed with it that after two years, we traded it in for a 2016 adding all the features we think it needs. We also bought it using European delivery and is currently waiting for it's arrival in Baltimore. First of all, the design of the car is what got us. We had E-classes before so weren't looking for an entry into the luxury segment. This is a car that seems to be designed as a unit as opposed to say the new C-class where the front and the rear look like they are from two separate cars. Our original was in a stunning Jupiter red with sun roof, Bi-xenon lights, the Becker GPS, walnut trim. The 2016 has several standard options which were not standard before but instead part of an expensive package Our new car is 4-matic (wasn't available before), same sun roof, walnut (with beige interior, wish there was a lighter color option) bi-xenon, rear-view camera (really missed this as we have it in our other cars), Apply-Carplay (wasn't available before), Garmin GPS (hated the Becker unit and looking forward to seeing Garmin maps but after playing with Apply Carplay in Germany when we picked it up, we might use Google map instead so the Garmin may not be necessary), the sport suspension package (out other car is a 911 so anything that hints at better handling would be great) and Blind Side assist. The BSA is really important because when my wife moves her seat to a comfortable position, it completely blocks the view from the rear side window and with the sloping roof, this is a problem. Also, the driver side pillar blocks cars as well which is not good. When we drove it in Germany, it feels faster than ours and much smoother. There is plenty of power and driving-wise much faster than what I expect a 200hp car has. What we will really really miss about our first CLA is the gas mileage. My wife and I really enjoy seeing our MPG at 38-39 which is remarkable. I understand with 4-matic that will likely go down quite a bit but with the aerodynamic of the car, this car cruises down a hill really fast and we end up using the brakes a lot because you end up passing most cars and going too fast on downhills. On thing that we hate about the 2016 are the standard rims that go with the 17inch wheels. They are butt-ugly and look like simple cut-outs from a sheet of metal. Guess that's how they get you to upgrade to 18inch wheels. Don't want 18 inch as we do highway driving and don't want low profile tires and also we had a set of 4 17inch Blizzaks at home that we plan to use. We decided to buy a new set from Tire Rack Overall, my wife and I really love this car. it's meant to my wife to drive around town but we ended up using it for all our long trips and now with 4-matic, we can do this over the winter also. With this purchase, we plan to keep this car for a long time.
The two destinies
L,01/06/2018
CLA 250 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
The CLA does not seem to garner much praise or love . It’s often disparaged as a poor rendering of the rest of the Mercedes family . It’s the black sheep of the family people would have you believe . I am a car guy , always have been since I was a small boy dreaming of the kind of fun , and cool car I would own when I was old enough . I have owned over 30 cars in my time , all sorts of Volvo’s including the Bertone , every BMW , all sorts of Mercedes my favorite being a 1989 560 sec that I had for a long time . Wagons , sedan , coupes even an SUV . I bought the Mercedes CLA while looking for a replacement SUV ... I drove the car and fell in love with the way it looked ... After all we love everything with our eyes first and that was no different with the CLA .There is an expectation that the CLA should drive and feel like an E class sedan , well it doesn’t , I had one and it’s wonderful but an E class isn’t as nimble or as fun and it’s more isolating and numb .. That’s not a bad thing but you can’t compare the CLA to an E class or a CLS or anything else . The CLA is quick, nimble , and a blast to drive , add the panoramic roof the upgraded sound and the 4 matic and you have a great car ... Yes it thumps over bumps , it turns quickly , goes fast , it more sport than sedan...so give it some love .... it’s a great car, and today , it’s about value , the CLA is value , and it’s under appreciated , but not by me !
First time lease
Christin,07/05/2016
CLA250 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM)
Let me begin by saying this is my first new car, ever. This is my first Mercedes & luxury vehicle. I am accustomed to the Mazda3 & GMC work truck...that being said, anything new is a significant step up so take this review with a grain of salt. For a "basic" CLA250 model I am impressed with the gorgeous bodylines & technology. The keyless entry has become common, but for me this is new & so convenient. There are 4 or maybe 5 different driving settings. I'm not a huge car person but I was so impressed by the significant changes I could feel by switching mode from comfort to sport or ECO. This car is very polished inside & out. I scored a great lease special, be sure to look out for them online. I assumed this was not doable & I would get a new Mazda3 or something practical...so happy I "splurged" (mind you, my payments are LESS then my USED Mazda3). I got a really amazing car, to me at least. Even my grandparents who have been frequent Mercedes customers, loved my new "beginner model" CLA 250 inside & out. Side note, I am a petite girl...this vehicle suits me perfectly! My boyfriend is 6'2 & he says he fits comfortably in the passenger seat however when the sea is that far back it is difficult to have ample visibility when backing up. lol.

Features & Specs

MPG
26 city / 38 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Gas
208 hp @ 5500 rpm
MPG
23 city / 31 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Gas
375 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
24 city / 33 hwy
Seats 5
7-speed automated manual
Gas
208 hp @ 5500 rpm
See all Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class features & specs
More about the 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Overview

The Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is offered in the following submodels: CLA-Class AMG CLA 45, CLA-Class Sedan. Available styles include CLA 250 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), AMG CLA 45 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM), and CLA 250 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 7AM).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA 250 4MATIC is priced between $14,499 and$23,991 with odometer readings between 10600 and95431 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA 250 is priced between $16,500 and$21,565 with odometer readings between 15530 and66468 miles.

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Which used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Classes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class for sale near. There are currently 21 used and CPO 2016 CLA-Classes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $14,499 and mileage as low as 10600 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.

Can't find a used 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Classs you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class for sale - 11 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $16,191.

Find a used Mercedes-Benz for sale - 1 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $17,354.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class for sale - 4 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $19,010.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for sale - 5 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $12,390.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class lease specials