2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Is a No-Go for Families

14CLA250_squished

The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class sedan, which starts at $30,825 including a $925 destination fee, piqued my interest as a budget-conscious parent. The automaker isn't marketing this compact sedan to families, but I couldn't help but think about how it could be a great fit for my family of three. We don't lug around a double-stroller; we're past the rear-facing child-safety-seat stage, and come on, it couldn't be that much of a stretch if it has four doors, right?

I had such high hopes for the 2014 CLA250, but after a weeklong test drive, I was forced to concede that it just doesn't work for families with small children.

14CLA250_Latch

Ironically, the CLA has some of the easiest lower Latch anchors I've used, but the family friendliness stops there. This car even failed Cars.com's Car Seat Check. Because child-safety seats vary, I was able to install my daughter's forward-facing convertible seat, but I had problems with the tether anchors. The space around the anchor was so shallow that it was difficult to connect to it, and the fixed head restraints blocked access, too. To connect to the tether anchor, I folded the rear seat forward to access the tether anchor. I got it connected after a few tries, but the tether hook became mangled in the process. Once we took the car seat out, my husband had to use pliers to straighten it. Not cool.

14CLA250_legroom

Unfortunately, our hassles weren't over even after the battle of car-seat installation was won. The CLA's rear door openings were so small that the side of our bulky safety seat swallowed up any space. Combined with the front passenger seat's design, it seemed my daughter had mere centimeters to squeeze in back and get seated. It was easier for her to enter the CLA250 on the other side of the backseat and climb across it to get into her car seat. Her human-pretzel-like antics made me chuckle at first, but in the end, she's a 2-year-old who can't get in the backseat. That doesn't bode well for other passengers.

I even tried moving her car seat to the backseat's middle position. In theory it was a good idea, but once the car seat was installed, rear visibility was terrible. The CLA's sleek, sloping design is extreme and makes for tunnel vision on its own, but the convertible car seat's high back further obstructed the already limited view. It was so bad that I had to change the car seat's position immediately.

14CLA250_headroom

The CLA250's precision handling couldn't lessen the sting I felt every time my head hit the roofline as I got my daughter strapped in to her car seat or make me forget those grueling rides where tantrums ensued after 5 minutes of cramped legs. The car's high belt line made my daughter even more vocal about not being able to see out the window.

No matter how many bells and whistles the CLA has, there is no easy car-seat option that transforms this compact sedan into something more comfortable (and practical) for kids and their parents. Looks like you'll have to pony up for a C-Class or higher, Mom and Dad.

Related
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Review
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class: Explaining the Trim Levels
More Family News

Comments 

2sk21

Even for adults, the rear seat feels claustrophobic - no idea why people go for styling over utility.

Steve

For a rear seat that tight and rear visibility so compromised, why bother even making it with four doors, except the emblem is what sells it. This rear seating makes the pre-emergency refresh of the 2013 Malibu look downright enormous.

Qays Shashaa

The CLA is marketed towards younger buyers so they can get into the brand at an early age, since mercedes has always been known for being an older person's car and bmw as being the "sportier" brand, things where bound to change. The CLA is classified as a coupe on their website, a good family sedan from mercedes is an e350. A different route you could've went for the same green is acquiring a Lexus is250 since it has grown 3.5 inches in total length so it is more passenger friendly, but when you buy a CLA it is more driver-focused so the overall experience is rewarding. If you still want to keep the CLA then move the front passenger seat forward as it is pushed back further than the driver's seat, also look into smaller car seats that aren't so big. People with 911's manage to fit their kids in the back I'm sure you will too with your new car.

csingh

Couldn't you find a bigger child booster seat?

Cars fit a need

I am bewildered by this review.
The writer states ... "The automaker isn't marketing this compact sedan to families...", but then goes on to criticize its lack of space for children with large car seats.
The CLA was not designed for a monstrous child seat. Why would anyone want to criticize it for something it was not meant to be?

Is it possible the huge blinders on the side of the child seat may have obstructed the child's vision?

Alberto

Hi there, What would you recommend If I had in mind a CLA but now since I have 2 babies an oldest kid of 6 years old

Jack Stevens

Wow that has the be the biggest car seat I have ever seen in my life. We have a car seat and it fits fine. Our daughter fits in it fine. We fit it in it fine. Friends in the back fit in it fine to football and basketball games. Your review is slighted at best. Also the picture of the child with her legs to the seat. Who was sitting in that passenger seat Shaq? My wife and I sit in the front seats with plenty of room for our daughter to kick her feet up and have room for her self. I'm sorry but your review is so far off it's not funny. Did BMW or Lexus pay you to do this review? Wow.

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