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Car Review

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

by AutoTrader

With the introduction of the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 compact sedan, the company expands into areas that may surprise people. For example, this is the cheapest new car sold in the U.S. to wear a 3-pointed star, the famed badge of Mercedes-Benz.

The basic version comes with front-wheel drive. Most M-B vehicles, however, have been rear-wheel drive.

Although the average age of a Mercedes owner is 52 (according to R.L. Polk research from earlier this year), the company thinks this model will capture 20-somethings -- not just by virtue of its accessible pricing but also because of its 4-door-coupe styling.

Buyers who may be looking at high-end versions of nonpremium brands -- such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry -- could be tempted to stretch their budget and bring home something with more cachet. There's also the possibility that existing M-B owners will see the CLA250 as a good downsizing option.

What's New for 2014?

Everything. This is a totally new model. However, the idea of "4-door coupe" has its roots in the bigger Mercedes-Benz CLS, where the roof traces a similarly sleek arc from the top of the sharply angled windshield down to the trunk lid.

What We Like

Reasonable base price for a Mercedes-Benz; two turbochargers for the engine and seven ratios in the transmission; 13.1 cu ft of trunk space; split-folding rear seats; passenger space

What We Don't

Compromised visibility; the use of run-flat tires to save weight and space; pricey options; cheaper-looking plastics here and there in the cabin

How Much?

$30,825 and up

Fuel Economy

The Environmental Protection Agency rates the CLA250 at 26 miles per gallon city/38 mpg hwy and 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving. That comes courtesy of a 4-cylinder engine that uses twin turbochargers to coax 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter displacement. Such a thrust-to-thirst ratio is impressive, helped by a start/stop function in the CLA's Eco mode, plus the 7-speed transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The CLA ($30,825) is offered in just one trim level, which includes Bluetooth, 5.8-inch display screen, power front seats with memory, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control and a superb leatherette material (known as MB-Tex) as standard. Also included is mbrace2, M-B's telematics system that can connect to the Internet and contact emergency services if an airbag is deployed. There is a sliding scale of subscription plans for this feature.

Because of the aforementioned limited visibility -- rear 3-quarter views, in particular -- checking the options box that says Driver Assist package is going to be $2,500 well spent. This will bring blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control for a little extra confidence.

Many options come within packages. As well as the Driver Assist package, there's the $2,370 Multimedia pack (voice control, navigation, rearview camera, 7-in LCD screen, 10 GB of music storage, 6-disc DVD/CD player) and the $2,300 Premium pack (heated front seats, better stereo, satellite radio, iPod integration, garage door opener, auto-dimming mirrors).

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Other options are a panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon/LED taillights, AMG grille, wheels and bumpers, parking assistance and various leather, wood trim and paint choices.

All-wheel drive becomes available early 2014.

Safety

Eight airbags (including two knee airbags up front), driver-attention assist and collision-prevention assist add up to a high level of standard safety equipment.

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has crash-tested the CLA at this time, but the company conducts its own stringent tests, so there's no reason to think that the CLA will ruin M-B's fine reputation for safety.

Behind the Wheel

This is a great engine, punchy enough to reach highway speeds in short order. The sprint from standstill to 60 miles per hour takes a brisk 6.9 seconds. Power comes on in a smooth, linear fashion as the throttle pedal heads toward the floor.

Gear changes from the 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission are similarly silky. This is so much better than a CVT, which is cheaper technology, but usually noisy and slow to respond. The driver can put it in D and forget about it, or use the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles whenever the desire to be more engaged takes hold.

Riding on optional 18-in wheels means a smaller and therefore less pliant tire sidewall, which only adds to the firm ride. The company might think that young target buyers prefer a stiffer, sportier setup, but Generation Y has to deal with potholes and rough road surfaces like everyone else. For everyday driving, 17-in wheels could be a better bet.

Other Cars to Consider

2014 Acura ILX -- The Acura falls into the newish "premium compact sedan" category and earns praise of a somewhat lukewarm nature. It's cheaper but less powerful than the CLA. It also does not return such good fuel consumption figures.

2015 Audi A3 -- Due on sale in the first half of 2014, the new generation of Audi's premium compact comes as a sedan (the outgoing model is a hatchback). This is shaping up to be the CLA's greatest rival, so kudos to M-B for coming to market first.

2013 BMW 128i Coupe -- Packing 230 hp to play with, the 128i enjoys a rear-wheel-drive setup and a sharp, poised chassis that should appeal to any enthusiast who isn't too tall. The downside is that this is an old-school 2-door coupe.

2014 MINI Cooper Clubman -- Not a coupe or a sedan, the compact MINI Cooper Clubman nevertheless has a certain prestige to go with a lot of driving fun and decent practicality. That's especially true of the range-topping John Cooper Works model.

AutoTrader's Advice

Since there are no specific trim levels, the smartest course for a 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 buyer would be to choose options while keeping a calculator close and setting a firm limit on price.

Find a Mercedes CLA for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250: New Car Review