Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is called a “coupe,” but it’s actually a sleek sedan with a somewhat cramped rear seat and limited visibility. At just over $34,000 the CLA is the least expensive car in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, but that in no way makes it some stripped-down MB wannabe.
You'll Like The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class If...
If you need to own a luxury brand with some gravitas, but your last pay raise still says “Honda Accord,” the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is the perfect solution. Offering good performance, loads of luxury options and CLS-like styling, the CLA250 is the ideal starter for future one-percenters.
You May Not Like The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class If...
You’ll find more interior room in an Acura ILX or Audi A3, and for the money, more car from a Kia Optima, Honda Accord or Nissan Maxima. While the CLA’s price tag is enticing, adding options quickly pushes the bottom line into the upper $40K range.
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA carries over with no major changes.
We mentioned the tight rear seat, but considering the youthful demographic suggested by the CLA’s styling, we’re guessing it’s not much of a concern. Instead, concentrate on the front, and you’ll be impressed by the overall quality of materials and assembly. Granted, there are a handful of plastic pieces that feel out of place, at least until you remember the price tag. The front seats offer good comfort with slightly-too-firm padding, and the smallness of the interior makes itself known with a center console that crowds your legs a bit. Still, the chunky steering wheel and 8-inch infotainment display won us over.
The 2019 CLA is one of those rare cars that looks bigger than it really is. We blame the strong resemblance to the much larger CLS-Class of sedans — ignore that Mercedes-Benz calls it a “coupe” — for the illusion. On the road, the CLA looks little, tiny even, swallowed by the lane it’s in. The low stance, narrow tires and clean lines give the CLA 250 a slippery drag coefficient of only 0.23, better than a Toyota Prius. The CLA looks particularly sharp when dressed in the optional Night package, which adds gloss-black exterior accents and 18-inch AMG wheels.
Powered by its front wheels (FWD), the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 is a departure from the rear-drive layout that makes up the rest of the MB fleet. But Mercedes excellence in engineering makes the switch nearly imperceptible, and for those who require better cornering and winter traction, there’s the all-wheel drive (AWD) CLA250 4Matic. The little 2.0-liter turbo does exhibit some lag at first, but once up and purring, it moves the CLA with surprising quickness. Place the transmission in Sport mode and the engine’s generous low-end torque is quickly put to work, made all the more enjoyable by a precise 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The CLA’s steering is precise, with punctual turn-in and only the slightest hint of understeer when pushed to its limits. The ride, on the other hand, is nowhere near as comfortable as in an Acura ILX or Audi A3, feeling jarring at times especially when traveling over rough pavement or large expansion joints.
A base, unadorned 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 comes with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $34,100, including the $995 destination charge. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to that package, and note that this "inexpensive" Benz gets pricey quickly. However, while injudicious option selections can raise the price past $40,000, more careful shoppers can get what they want for closer to $38,000. That price is right about where you’d pay for a similarly equipped Audi A3, despite its lower base price, while the surprisingly decent Acura ILX starts several thousand below the CLA, and lands about where the CLA starts when fully loaded. Be sure to check KBB.com’s Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area. The Mercedes CLA’s residual value is expected to hold up very well in the long run.OK, so what’s next?I’m interested in the newest version of this car. What’s for sale near me?I’m interested in this car, and I’d like to trade in my current car while I’m at it.Then again, maybe I should be thinking about a used car.
The base 2019 CLA comes decently equipped, with 14-way-power front seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, Dynamic Select driving modes, and an 8-inch infotainment display. The infotainment system includes Bluetooth, a USB input and HD audio, all controlled with the command dial on the center console. Safety features include a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, eight airbags, Active Brake Assist that automatically brakes when the system detects a potential collision, and Mercedes’ Attention Assist drowsy-driver detector. The CLA also comes with five years of Mercedes-Benz mbrace Connect package, which lets you do things like start the car remotely from your smartphone.
Beyond all-wheel drive, there are many options for the 2019 CLA-Class, most bundled into packages. For example, an interior package bundles leather, stitched dash and door trim and multicolor ambient lighting. A Driver Assist package adds active cruise control and lane-keeping assist. A multimedia package includes COMAND navigation, three years of navigation updates, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility; if you want just the Android Auto/CarPlay, it’s available as a separate package for $350. Blind-spot assist, keyless entry and heated front seats are part of the Premium package. Individual options include a Harman Kardon audio system, which we wholly recommend.
PANORAMA ROOFSmall sunroofs are practically worthless from the driver’s point of view, which is why Mercedes-Benz offers a massive panoramic glass sunroof on the CLA250. When open, the cabin is exposed to near-convertible-like doses of wind and sun, and when closed the retractable sunshade still allows in plenty of light.FUEL ECONOMYDespite is 200-plus horsepower and aggressively large wheels and tires, the 2019 MB CLA-Class returns fuel economy to rival some economy cars. With an EPA-estimated 37 mpg on the highway, the front-drive model offers the best mileage of any Mercedes-Benz not powered by electricity or diesel fuel.
Under the Hood
While the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 doesn’t look as if it has much grunt, its 208 horsepower is bolstered by an impressive 258 lb-ft of torque available from 1,250 to 4,000 rpm. Routed via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic to either the front or all four wheels, the rev range for peak torque is right in the sweet spot where drivers spend most of their time. The advantage is strong, smooth acceleration in almost any gear without compromising fuel economy. The automatic start/stop system can be switched off, but it works so seamlessly we doubt many will reach for the button.2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (CLA250)208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,250-4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/37 mpg (FWD), 24/32 mpg (AWD)
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is called a “coupe,” but it’s actually a sleek sedan with a somewhat cramped rear seat and limited visibility. At just over $34,000 the CLA is the least expensive car in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, but it is in no way some stripped-down MB wannabe. The CLA is stuffed full of all the luxury, performance and safety for which Mercedes is known, competing head-on with other small sedans like the Audi A3, BMW 2 Series and Acura ILX. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, the CLA250 offers a nice balance of acceleration and fuel economy. All-wheel drive is an option, but if you’re looking for a real performance boost, look to the AMG CLA45 (reviewed separately).