Buying an entry-level Mercedes-Benz such as the 2021 CLA-class no longer means compromising on refinement or driving satisfaction. While it shares its platform with the A-class sedan, the CLA250 offers swoopier, coupe-like styling and a more powerful 221-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Inside, Mercedes’s newly tech-focused cabin is on display with a dual-screen dashboard that’s comprised of a reconfigurable gauge display and either a 7.0- or 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Handling is reasonably nimble and the ride is refined. It’s not particularly roomy, especially in the rear seat, but cargo space is more than enough for most use cases. Overall, the CLA250 represents the modern Mercedes-Benz experience in a bite-sized package.
What’s New for 2021?
The CLA-class received a full redesign last year so 2021 models see only minor changes. Mercedes-Benz has added blind spot monitoring and ambient interior lighting to the standard features list, and the CLA’s MBUX infotainment system now features the Interior Assistant, which allows users to interact with the system using gesture controls.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The CLA250 comes with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is standard on the CLA250 4Matic. The latter trim is a great choice for those who travel on wet, slippery roads, but we think everyone else will be happy with the CLA250. That car rides on 18-inch wheels and comes with exterior features such as automatic LED headlights, rear fog lamps, a sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and heated power-adjustable sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals. The list of standard amenities within the cabin includes 12-way power-adjustable front seats, a manually adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a folding rear bench seat with a 60/40 split, keyless entry and push-button ignition, and navigation. When it comes to driver-assistance features, automated emergency braking is standard.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA-class sedans are motivated by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Gears are shifted by a seven-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available. At our test track, and all-wheel drive CLA250 4Matic model sprinted to 60 mph in a sprightly 5.6 seconds. The CLA-class offers handling that’s polished, with nicely calibrated steering, minimum body roll when cornering, and a pleasantly firm brake pedal. Still, downshifts from the gearbox are occasionally clunky. Different drive modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual) give you the ability to tailor the car’s performance to suit your preferences.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
With front-wheel drive, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA-class achieves EPA-rated fuel economy of 25/35 mpg city/highway. Fuel economy for models with all-wheel drive comes in at 23/33 mpg. Those figures are competitive for the segment, but you’ll get better fuel economy with the Audi A3 (up to 27/36 mpg). In our 75-mph highway fuel economy test, the all-wheel drive CLA250 managed to exactly meet its EPA estimate of 33 mpg.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Though it’s one of the least expensive models in the automaker’s range, the 2021 CLA-class boasts a cabin that looks like it belongs in a Mercedes-Benz. The center stack is clean and modern, embellished with a trio of circular air vents. The front seats are pleasantly spacious, but there’s limited headroom in the second row due to the car’s sloping roofline. This sedan provides 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s less cargo space than in the outgoing model. Still, the CLA-class delivers more room for your gear than a rival such as the Audi A3, which provides 12.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The CLA-class is equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s new infotainment system, and it features a touchpad-equipped steering wheel and console-mounted control pad. Overall, the setup is easy to use and configure. A 7.0-inch display is standard, along with Bluetooth connectivity and an eight-speaker sound system. All models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The options list includes an upgraded Burmester audio system and SiriusXM satellite radio.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz CLA-class hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, this car is available with driver-assistance features that can help keep you out of harm’s way during your travels. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The warranty covered provided by the Mercedes-Benz CLA-class matches the protection offered by competing cars from brands such as BMW and Audi.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
More Features and Specs