2019 Mercedes A-Class: 7 Things to Love and 2 to Hate - The Short List

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

The 2019 A-Class is Mercedes-Benz’s freshest compact offering. Here are nine things to know about it – seven you’ll love and two you’re sure to hate.

As premium small cars go, the Mercedes-Benz CLA is attractive and affordable. Too bad the previous-generation model had poor interior quality, refinement, and backseat space. But righting these wrongs is the brand-new A-Class. At least for the time being, American motorists can purchase an A220 with either front- or 4Matic all-wheel drive. The example tested here featured a wide range of options including four-corner traction.

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9. Priced to Sell

Kicking things off, point No. 9 is pricing. The 2019 A-Class starts at $33,495 including $995 for delivery, a not-unreasonable sum. Go with all-wheel-drive and that base figure swells by an additional $2,000. Either way, you get German engineering and that famous Mercedes-Benz emblem that’s certain to make the new neighbors across your subdivision cul-de-sac seethe with jealousy, all for about as much cash as a Toyota Avalon.

ALSO SEE: 2020 Mercedes CLA Review

8. It’s Well Equipped but Watch Out!

For that much money, you’d expect this car to be well equipped, and it is. Right out of the box, you get two seven-inch screens on the dashboard. Support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, as are eight-way power front seats, LED headlamps, push-button start, and more safety equipment than there are words in the dictionary.

Of course, the model evaluated here is anything but entry level. Stuffed with options like heated and ventilated front buckets, an array of driver-assistance features and the AMG-Line package, it stickered for $51,935. Go easy on the extras if you want an affordable A-Class.

7. She’s a Looker

Point No. 7 is styling. The A220 is a looker from just about every angle. Somewhat resembling a miniaturized CLS, visually this car fits in nicely with the broader Mercedes-Benz lineup. That grinning front end, cleanly styled flanks and perky backside make it surprisingly ritzy for something shorter than a Nissan Sentra.

This Benz’s overall length is a hair more than 179 inches (4,549 mm), comparable to an Audi A3 or Acura ILX, though the A-Class’s wheelbase is longer by several inches than the hub-to-hub spans of these rivals, clocking in at 107.4 inches (2,728 mm). Only the extended front overhang and short dash-to-axle measurement give away that it’s a front-drive-based car; the other proportions are surprisingly dramatic.

ALSO SEE: Where is Mercedes Made?

6. Upscale Interior

Next up, the A220’s interior is nicely finished, with plenty of stitching and soft plastics. It’s a HUGE step up from the outgoing CLA’s chintzy and cramped cabin. Even the back seat has enough head- and legroom for six-footers to fit comfortably. Yes, some of the switches could feel nicer, and, no, you won’t love all the shiny plastic, but its cabin is still well built and upscale.

5. S-Class-Caliber Technology

Point No. 5 is technology. The 2019 A220 offers S-Class-rivaling features in a compact package, things like adaptive cruise control with steering assist AND the automaker’s new MBUX infotainment system, which is colorful, quick, customizable and most importantly, easy to navigate.

SEE ALSO: 9 Things to Know About the Mercedes-AMG S63 – The Short List

Our tester was fitted with a pair of 10.25-inch screens in lieu of the standard seven-inchers. They’re bundled in the optional Premium Package, which also includes things like an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and blind-spot monitoring. They’re a welcome upgrade over the smaller displays.

One other very cool feature is how you interact with all this tech. There are three different ways including a touchpad on the center console, touch-control buttons on the steering wheel spokes and even a touchscreen, though that is a bit of a reach from the driver’s seat.

4. “Hey, Mercedes!”

Actually, there’s a fourth way to manipulate MBUX; you can also use your voice. Buried in the dashboard like some water main under an intersection is a digital assistant, much like Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa. You summon her by saying, “Hey, Mercedes!”

She (or it?) can help you get directions, do local searches for things like nearby restaurants and tell you the weather forecast, all without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. This system even has a bit of snark. Just ask her about Audi…

ALSO SEE: 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan Review

3. It Feels Like a Real Mercedes-Benz

Point No. 3 is refinement. Despite its smaller dimensions, the A-Class feels like a real Mercedes-Benz. It’s quiet inside, plus the ride is refined and well isolated. Bumps are absorbed and digested with zero harshness, just like in a proper luxury vehicle.

A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is the only transmission available in this car. That sounds like a recipe for juddering and clunkiness, but this gearbox proved to be a paragon of refinement during testing, with none of the usual bad behavior these things are notorious for exhibiting.

2. Hey, Where’s the Hatch?

But now for a couple things you probably won’t like. Point two, the A-Class is only offered as a sedan in the U.S., however, Canadian drivers can purchase a hatchback version of the car. Basically, they get choice and we get screwed.

SEE ALSO: 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE Review

Yes, a brand-new version of the CLA “four-door coupe” is also in the works. It should go on sale in America before the end of the year. It’s basically the same thing as the A-Class but with fancier styling. Beyond that, Mercedes will also offer a gorgeous CLA Shooting Brake, sort of a station wagon version of the car. They revealed it at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show and it’s something else we’re unlikely to ever get. Doin’ us a heckin sadness, fren.

1. Economy-Car Performance?

Finally, let’s talk about performance. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is the sole engine offered here. It’s quiet and smooth but only delivers 188 horsepower. That’s less than you get in a base Honda Accord!

Fortunately, the A-Class’ overall performance is still very good thanks to its resourceful transmission and tons of low-end torque, which peaks at 221 pound-feet.

On paper, this car looks like a total slug, but it can still get you 60 miles an hour in around seven seconds, which is totally respectable. Hatchback models offered in Canada are graced with 221 horses and 258 pound-feet, which still isn’t that much for a 2.0-liter turbo, but it’s still a welcome upgrade. In any case, bring on AMG versions!

Of course, it’s entirely likely they’ve tuned these cars for efficiency rather than outright performance. With all-wheel drive our tester stickered at 25 miles per gallon city, 33 highway and 28 mpg combined.

Far better than the outgoing CLA, which, yes, will be replaced by a new version later in the year, this 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class at long last makes a compelling argument that small can be premium.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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