The CLA-class is the least expensive way to get into a new Mercedes-Benz—a proposition that’s compelling on its own, and one bolstered by the compact sedan’s provocative styling. That the shape is also polarizing and not especially practical hasn’t hurt the CLA’s market success one bit. Having entered the U.S. market in late 2013 as a 2014 model, the CLA is now the third-most-popular Mercedes sedan, and its sales in 2015 were up by 8 percent over the previous year. For the 2017 model year, the CLA gets a mild mid-cycle freshening, but unless you’re a Mercedes-Benz savant, you’ll have to look twice to see the differences.
Designers have cleaned up the cluttered and chiseled front fascia, creating a sleeker appearance that mimics the look of the new E-class. Full-LED headlamps are optional, while the taillights adopt a slightly more horizontal shape. There are also new wheel designs. New bumpers and lighting units appear on the Mercedes-AMG CLA45—and closer inspection reveals that the bumpers of the CLA250 with the AMG design package are nearly identical to those of the Mercedes-AMG CLA45.
Mercedes-Benz will continue to offer the CLA250 with front- and 4MATIC all-wheel drive; power still comes from the 208-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, internally called M270. Last year, the AMG CLA45’s 2.0-liter turbo four received a bump in output of 20 horsepower and 18 lb-ft of torque, and it holds steady for 2017 at 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. 4MATIC is standard on the AMG. Unfortunately, we don't get two interesting CLA variants: the distinctly styled station wagon version, which Mercedes-Benz calls a Shooting Brake, and the ultra-efficient CLA180d Blue Efficiency Edition.