KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

Expensive cars like the commanding S-Class sedan and the iconic SL roadster have helped Mercedes-Benz established its premium reputation, but the German manufacturer is hoping its all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan can draw more buyers from the growing entry luxury segment, attracting a fresh generation of brand loyalists with an attractive starting MSRP of $29,900.

You'll Like The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class If...

The Mercedes-Benz CLA boasts two primary selling points: premium looks and a surprisingly accessible price of entry. Sure, it's not an elegant, proportional masterpiece like its upmarket sibling the CLS, but this chip off the block is still arguably sexier than virtually all of its competitors.

You May Not Like The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class If...

If you're serious about using the rear seats, you might want to skip the CLA. While there's enough headroom for most folks under 6-feet tall, getting in and out of the rear quarters – not to mention maneuvering a car seat back there – poses a serious challenge.

What's New

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is all-new for 2014. Though it slots below the C-Class in the manufacturer's lineup (and undercuts the C250 by about $5,000), the CLA is slightly longer. However, when the redesigned C-Class debuts later this year, it will trump the CLA in size.

Interior Features

The Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class feels intimate on the inside, especially when compared to the C-Class sedan – which actually has a smaller overall footprint but a bigger interior. Credit (or criticize) the CLA's low-slung roofline for the counterintuitive discrepancy. Nonetheless, the CLA's cabin is outfitted with surprisingly decent materials, from the dash and trim components to the standard MB-Tex upholstery, which didn't make us miss real leather hides. Our only gripes came from small plastic bits like the cup holder and the mirror control surrounds. Other than those minor slips, the CLA's interior feels more upmarket than its price point might suggest.

Exterior Features

The CLA takes on an aggressive stance with its arched silhouette and strong character lines, though its relatively narrow width and surprisingly skinny tires betray its otherwise imposing road presence. At least those items help the CLA250 achieve the title of "World's most aerodynamic car," beating hybrids like the Toyota Prius in the wind tunnel with a drag coefficient of only 0.23.

Driving Impressions

If you were to slip behind the wheel of a standard Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and hit the road, you'd be hard pressed to tell it was a front-wheel-drive car. The car launches smartly off the line, and only under the most extreme dynamics does it reveal the "plowing" – aka, understeering tendency front drive cars are known for. Nonetheless, more dedicated drivers might want to opt for the 4Matic all-wheel-drive version, which better responds to aggressive steering and throttle input at the limit. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces a mild 208 horsepower, but that's enough grunt to help the CLA feel peppy under most circumstances, thanks in part to the well-chosen ratios of its crisp shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Hardcore enthusiasts should find their bliss in the CLA45 AMG, which packs a serious wallop with its 360-horsepower engine, stiffer suspension and standard all-wheel drive.

Pricing Notes

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 starts at $30,825 including destination charges), though that price can swell towards the $40,000 mark when loaded with options. However, thanks to available bundles like the Premium and Multimedia packages, scoring a well-optioned CLA for around $35,000 should be feasible. The high-powered, specially tuned CLA45 AMG commands a noticeably higher price that starts at $48,375. Compared to the Audi A4 (which starts at $32,500) and the BMW 3 Series (with its $32,550 base price), the CLA250 proves an excellent value thanks to its decent basic equipment list and available standalone options like 18-inch wheels, heated seats and burl walnut wood trim. Residual value of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA is predicted to be well above average, though still below that of the Lexus IS 250.

Notable Equipment

The CLA250 comes equipped with a surprising amount of standard bells and whistles, including rain-sensing windshield wipers, cruise control, and a power driver's seat. Hill-start assist and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters are also part of the $29,900 entry price, as well as safety features like collision prevention assist and attention assist. Bluetooth is also standard on the base model, though you'll have to opt for the Premium Package for an iPod/MP3 interface.

Notable Options

Spring for the Premium Package ($2,300), and you'll get a harman/kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio, heated seats (which are also available a la carte), and a few other goodies. A Multimedia Package ($2,370) offers a bigger 7-inch screen with navigation and SiriusXM traffic & weather, as well as a 10-gig music hard drive and a rearview camera. Standalone options include 4Matic all-wheel drive, blind-spot assist, and the "self-parking" Parktronic feature.

Favorite Features

PANORAMA ROOF

Especially since the CLA cabin is somewhat snug, the available panorama roof opens up the space to make it feel spacious and bright using a fixed polycarbonate cover, and a glass panel that slides back.

ELECTROMECHANICAL STEERING

Many electric steering systems feel numb and disconnected, but the CLA's setup manages to infuse plenty of feel at the wheel, making for an entertaining dance partner on winding roads.

Under the Hood

Mercedes-Benz's entry-level sedan is available with two powertrain configurations: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 producing 208 horsepower on the CLA250, and the tire-slaying CLA45 AMG version of that engine churning 355 horsepower. The pumped-up AMG iteration earns the distinction of being the first 4-cylinder engine from Mercedes-Benz's in-house tuning branch. Both mills are mated to 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The standard configuration is front-drive, with 4Matic all-wheel drive available on the CLA250 and standard on the CLA45 AMG.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250/CLA250 4Matic

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm

258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/38 mpg

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG 4Matic

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

355 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

332 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-5,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg

Editors' Notes

Mercedes-Benz's high-end reputation was built on pricey cars like the commanding S-Class sedan and the iconic SL roadster, but the German manufacturer is hoping its all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan can draw more buyers from the growing entry luxury segment, attracting a younger generation of brand loyalists with an attractive starting MSRP of $29,900. Borrowing styling cues from the bigger and more upmarket CLS, which launched the so-called 4-door coupe trend, the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class wraps a more aggressive version of those looks into a smaller, tighter package that aims to steal car shoppers away from compact to mid-size sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS. That's why we named it one of the 10 Best Luxury Cars Under $40,000 for 2014.

Road Test Video Reviews

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Owner Reviews

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32 Reviews
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This car gets great gas mileage with the ecoboost.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA 250

My CLA250 4matic handles extremely well on dry roads, wet roads, snow and ice. I live in the Rockies and travel frequently during the winter months and also have studded snow tires making handling that more stable. The silhouettes of this model is much sporty and sleek than the C300. I didn't want and don't have a sun or moon roof. It would be just one more piece of glass to break if damaged by hail and didn't use sunroofs much in other owned vehicles. This model gets great gas mileage and is very comfortable with a smooth ride and no road noise inside. The dash is easy to program.

- Alicia J

The CLA 250 is a must have!

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class CLA 250

The CLA 250 is very classy and sleek. It has 4WD with an AMG turbo. The highway ride is smooth and you get at minimum 22 mpg. The amenities alone are the best seller, which includes full navigation system, AM/FM/Satellite radio, Bluetooth audio, media connection and many more. As for the interior, you have all leather seating. The front seats can be adjusted to your level of comfort. In addition, you can program your adjusted seat for the specific driver. There is more than enough trunk space if needed. This car is the best car Mercedes Benz created.

- Ebony S

An ok vehicle with pricey repairs.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

The pick-up & go of this vehicle is great. My biggest downside is you can feel everything on road, and that is in large part to the low profile tires. Over the years I have noticed problems with the windows and sunroof attempting to close, and then getting stuck. You then have to try and close it multiple times before it actually works. After 70k miles the water pump went to junk and cost $1200 to replace.

- Sam K

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