2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

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$36,650 - 54,800 MSRP

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA features a punchy engine lineup, lots of standard features, and an above-average predicted reliability rating. However, rear head- and legroom, as well as trunk space, come up short compared to rivals. The CLA does not have an overall score or ranking because it has not been fully crash tested.

Pros & Cons

  • Lively engines
  • Agile handling
  • Abundant standard features
  • Stiff ride
  • Limited rear-seat room
  • Slightly below-average trunk space

Research & Ratings

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class is unranked in Luxury Small Cars due to missing safety data. Currently, the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class's overall score is not available, though its Critics' Rating, Performance score, and Interior score are based on our evaluation of 8 pieces of research and data.

N/A

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 6.9
Performance: 7.4
Interior: 5.9
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. As a result, it doesn't have an overall score and cannot be ranked against other luxury small cars.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

 Is the Mercedes-Benz CLA a Good Car?

The redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA is an OK luxury small car. This new CLA is packed with technology, including an improved infotainment system that comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Also, you'll find mostly high-quality materials throughout the cabin. The CLA's suspension system helps the car feel agile, but the ride is firm, especially over road bumps. Additionally, trunk space is small even by class standards.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz CLA?

We don't think you should completely rule out the CLA, but there are more-worthwhile contenders. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class costs less than the CLA and provides more rear-seat headroom. The BMW 3 Series costs more, but it’s nimble without being stiff.

Compare the CLA, A-Class, and 3 Series »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz CLA?

The 2020 CLA is completely redesigned. It’s both longer and wider than the previous-generation CLA, and it has a lower rear roofline. It has a stronger engine lineup, and a new AMG model debuts. Inside, the all-new MBUX infotainment system replaces the old COMAND system. The new CLA comes standard with two displays – a 7-inch touch screen and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster – as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Interior materials are also improved.

A used CLA is worth considering, just be aware that models from the previous generation are substantially different. If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 CLA, 2018 CLA, and 2019 CLA reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 CLA »

We Did the Research for You: 8 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed eight Mercedes-Benz CLA reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been reviewing cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain impartial, we do not accept extravagant gifts from automakers, and an outside source handles our advertising.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz CLA Cost?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 starts at $36,650, which is about average for the luxury small car class. Two AMG models are also available. The AMG CLA 35 has a starting price of $46,900, while the top-of-the-line AMG CLA 45 goes for $54,800. Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional in the base trim for $2,000; it’s standard in the top two trims.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz CLA or Mercedes A-Class?

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was built on the same platform as the CLA. The two cars share similar performance, a comparable list of standard features, and the same user-friendly infotainment system. Still, there are few differences between them. The CLA's base engine is a little more powerful than that of the A-Class, and while there are two performance-oriented AMG models available for the CLA, the A-Class only offers one. Additionally, while the A-Class features more rear-seat headroom, the CLA has a slightly larger trunk. Choosing between these two comes down to personal preference.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz CLA or BMW 3 Series?

The BMW 3 Series has a higher base price than the CLA, but overall it’s a better car. The Bimmer offers satisfying engines, athletic handling, and a comfortable cabin. It also has more trunk space than the CLA, as well as plenty of space for tall passengers to stretch out in the back.

Compare the CLA, A-Class, and 3 Series »

CLA Interior

How Many People Does the CLA Seat?

There's seating for up to five people in the CLA. The front row features roomy seats that are supportive and comfortable. The back seats are a different story. Both head- and legroom is limited, which means taller rear-seat passengers will not be comfortable back there.

CLA and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats and an upper tether for the middle seat.

CLA Interior Quality

Mercedes improved the CLA's interior quality for 2020, with materials that look and feel premium. There are some plastic surfaces, but they are soft to the touch. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard, while genuine leather upholstery, as well as aluminum and wood trim, are optional.

CLA Cargo Space

The CLA's trunk measures 11.6 cubic feet, which is small for the class.

CLA Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

For 2020, Mercedes replaces the hard-to-use COMAND infotainment system with the more user-friendly MBUX system. MBUX comes with a 7-inch digital instrument cluster that you operate using the left touch control button on the steering wheel. There’s also a 7-inch touch screen. Aside from directly touching the screen, you can control it via a touchpad controller on the center console or by clicking the right touch control button on the steering wheel. You launch the standard voice control by saying "Hey, Mercedes" or by clicking the voice control button on the steering wheel.

Other standard features include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, five USB ports, and HD Radio. Available features include a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch touch screen, navigation, wireless charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and satellite radio.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

CLA Performance

CLA Engine: Peppy

The CLA comes with one of three engines. The CLA 250 features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 221 horsepower. It's paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. This base CLA delivers plenty of power for your daily commute and should be suitable for many shoppers.

For more power, however, there are two AMG models. The new AMG CLA 35 trim comes with a 302-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to the same transmission found in the base model. You get a 382-horsepower four-cylinder and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission in the AMG CLA 45 trim.

Both transmissions provide smooth shifts, but the seven-speed can be slow to downshift.

CLA Gas Mileage: Up to Snuff

The base CLA with front-wheel drive gets 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those figures are good for the class. Add all-wheel drive, and those numbers dip to 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The midlevel AMG CLA 35, which comes standard with AWD, gets 23/29 mpg city/highway. As of this writing, there are no EPA estimates for the AMG CLA 45.

CLA Ride and Handling: Balanced and Coarse

The CLA is composed around corners, and it offers agile handling. Its ride may be too harsh for some shoppers, however, and you’ll feel the bumps when traveling over uneven pavement. Front-wheel drive is standard in the base CLA, while all-wheel drive is optional. Both AMG models come standard with all-wheel drive.

Read more about performance »

CLA Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz CLA Reliable?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA has an above-average predicted reliability rating of four out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Warranty

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA comes with a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty.

Read more about reliability »

CLA Safety

CLA Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 CLA.

CLA Safety Features

The CLA comes standard with a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and crosswind assist, which applies the brakes to keep the vehicle steady against strong winds. Optional features include adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist, active park assist, and a surround-view parking camera system.

Read more about safety »

CLA Dimensions and Weight

The CLA is around 15.4 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,362 to 3,450 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2020 CLA in Hungary.

Which Mercedes-Benz CLA Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA is available in three trims: CLA 250, AMG CLA 35, and AMG CLA 45. The base trim comes with ample features, including smartphone integration technology, a user-friendly infotainment system, and a few advanced safety features like driver drowsiness monitoring. What really sets these trims apart are their engines.

The base 250 trim comes with a 221-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The AMG CLA 35 has a 302-horsepower turbo-four, while the AMG CLA 45 features a 382-horsepower turbo-four.

The base model is a respectable choice, but opt for one of the AMG models if you need more power.

Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive is an additional $2,000 in the base trim, while it's standard in the top two trims.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

The CLA 250 (MSRP: $36,650) comes with a 221-horsepower engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, synthetic leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, proximity keyless entry, and a panoramic sunroof. The standard MBUX infotainment system includes a 7-inch digital instrument cluster, a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, five USB ports, and HD Radio. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, crosswind assist, and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

Several packages are available. The Premium package ($1,650) adds blind spot monitoring, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 10.25-inch touch screen. A Driver Assistance package that adds blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and lane keep assist is available for $2,250.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 35

The CLA 35 starts at $46,900. It features a 302-horsepower engine and adds a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch touch screen, and an AMG sport suspension.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 45

Starting at $54,800, the CLA 45 comes with a 382-horsepower engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA is redesigned and far better than models from the previous generation. The new CLA has nicer cabin materials, an expanded engine lineup, poised handling, and an easier-to-use infotainment system. However, its ride may be too firm for some shoppers, and its coupelike styling limits its passenger and cargo room.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "In all, the CLA is a well-executed compact sedan that plays a stylish counterpoint to Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level four-door A-Class." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "While it can no longer hang its hat on a sub-$30,000 starting price, the new CLA reaches into more ambitious territory with its modernized hardware and mature interior finishes. Best of all, though it lacks the outright grunt and outright handling acumen we expect from the upcoming AMG variants, the new CLA just might surprise and delight you when the road gets unexpectedly bendy." -- Automobile Magazine
  • While there's nothing about the updated CLA250 that we'd describe as exciting, there's now little to knock it for as an affordable Mercedes-Benz." -- Car and Driver 
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