2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Aft View
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Dashboard

2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review: Benz Virtues In A Compact Package

The subcompact luxury sedan market is a niche segment where style is important. Mercedes-Benz is represented in this class by the CLA-Class, a coupe-like rendition of the A-Class Sedan that was discontinued last year - and which we don't miss because the CLA is both better-looking and more practical. Many of the rivals in this class have more sensible three-box profiles, such as the Audi A3, but the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a similar car to the CLA, with its sensible four doors draped in a coupe-like body. Along with such concessions to style go compromised rear-seat space, with the Audi providing more commodious second-row accommodations - this might not matter much if you're just going to put children back there. The CLA sells on style and certainly cuts a dashing figure, but performance is decent, too, with a punchy 221-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four providing the motivation. It doesn't quite feel like the larger Mercs in terms of ride quality and noise levels, though. How does the 2023 CLA-Class stack up against its rivals?

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 9 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2022 CLA-Class?

In anticipation of a more sweeping refresh next year, which will be accompanied by a few cosmetic changes and various new features, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class we review here is not any different from last year's model. The only change to this year's lineup is the addition of the limited-run CLA 45 Edition 55 model, of which only 55 examples are made available to buyers in the USA. That model is covered separately as part of our AMG CLA 45 review.

There is still just one CLA 250 trim in the regular CLA range, available as either FWD or AWD, and the only difference is that the starting price of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class increases by $1,150 in both cases.

Pros and Cons

  • Stylish coupe-like design
  • Entertaining handling
  • Premium cabin environs
  • Fully featured infotainment system
  • Decent feature count
  • Tight second row
  • The ride is too firm
  • Unresponsive transmission
  • Gets expensive with options

What's the Price of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class?

A $39,350 MSRP for the FWD CLA 250 means that the price of a new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan is now $1,150 higher than last year's model. The AWD CLA 250 4Matic will cost you $2,000 more at $41,350. These prices don't include the $1,150 destination charge.

Best Deals on 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
CLA 250
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
7-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Trims and Specs

2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Handling and Driving Impressions

The CLA-Class is unexpectedly fun to drive. The electric power steering provides quick responses to your inputs and isn't overly light, so it works with you on a mountain pass, not against you. The brakes are similarly well-tuned and responsive. The ride reflects the handling bias, and the enthusiastic driver will regard it as a fair compromise considering the car's agility. For the rest, it might be too firm, and while it's never harsh, the underlying stiff-leggedness is not quite in tune with the luxury image, nor are the rather high levels of road noise on the highway. The turbocharged four-pot won't set the drag strip on fire, but performance is brisk, with plenty of torque available from low down in the rev range. It's just a shame that the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic doesn't feel quite in the same league. It usually shifts snappily and keeps the engine on the boil, but downshifts are frequently unrefined and clunky, especially noticeable when slowing down and then accelerating.

Verdict: Is The 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class A Good Car?

If you're in the market for a subcompact luxury sedan, you have to choose between style and practicality. The CLA is beautiful but suffers from cramped rear quarters, just like its 2 Series Gran Coupe rival. But more practical rivals with larger back seats, like the Audi A3, don't look as suave. If you don't mind this, you can do far worse than the CLA. It's fun to drive, performs well, impresses with its in-cabin tech, and generally upholds the Mercedes reputation for quality and comfort. Mercedes is refreshing it for 2024, and while that is likely to be an improved car, it will also cost significantly more than $40k. The current car still offers a very competitive package at 2023 prices.

What 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Model Should I Buy?

Your choice comes down to FWD or AWD and what options to add, since there is only one basic trim, the CLA 250. We'd add a few features the standard car is missing, such as the Premium Package with its larger 10.25-inch dual screens, proximity key, and two auto-dimming mirrors and the Driver Assistance package that adds a host of driver assists such as active blind-spot and lane-keep systems, adaptive cruise control, and evasive steering assist. FWD or AWD will depend on whether you need to added grip of all-wheel drive.

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