Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Nov 15, 2020

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During the last months of 2016, Mercedes-Benz was loudly and rapidly in the process of catching up to other luxury competitors including BMW and Audi. They had the newly redesigned C-series CLA250 partially to thank for these increases in sales. In fact, Mercedes surpassed BMW and Lexus as the country’s top-selling luxury car for the first time in a decade.

2017 Mercedes Benz CLA

In late November of last year, a popular automotive sales analyst clarified another angle on the impressive numbers that led Mercedes to revise sales estimates from 30,000 to 50,000 for its budget-minded CLA; a “conquest rate” of 70% owing in large part to taking buyers from the Toyota Camry and Honda accord.

Mercedes CLA price and overview

The idea of the CLA may seem complex at first. Touted as being very budget at $29,990, the most common price is actually closer to $35,000 for a popularly equipped version, but the sub-$30,000 base model is an option. It’s a modified version of the C-class, which was the smallest option in the Mercedes family for over two decades. It’s “smaller” because it has less interior room despite having a larger and longer body. It’s a luxury-made vehicle without some of the same luxury amenities available on fully equipped Accords and Camrys. And it rides like a mid-ranged Audi but with the unique handling that comes from front-wheel drive, something never before available on a German car in the United States.

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Entrance into affordable market segment

But this initial complexity hides what is actually a relatively simple distinction. Mercedes wanted to increase its appeal in a more affordable market segment and they hoped the revamped C-series would enable them to do this by providing the Mercedes-Benzs name and image of luxury, many of its performance perks, and a wide range of options to help buyers put together the package they want in terms of price and luxury feel. They hoped it would help them steal buyers from other luxury competitors for a year or two until they could catch up – and it has – but it has also proven popular with older car buyers who want performance and style at a great price.