Used Car Reviews

2019-2022 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Used Vehicle Review

It was early in 2018 when Mercedes announced that the A-Class would be coming to Canada after generations on sale elsewhere around the globe.

This compact luxury model flaunted numerous new connectivity and technological advances for the segment, including the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) multimedia system with built-in learning capability, which debuted for this generation of the A-Class. Designed to learn its operator’s behaviour and evolve, the MBUX system is highly customizable and adapts to suit its user.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are integrated within the high-resolution widescreen interface. Intelligent voice control with natural speech recognition encourages drivers to control their vehicle with their voice, though the touchscreen, central trackpad, and steering wheel-mounted controls provide numerous additional options for system manipulation.

Elsewhere, look for a drive mode selector, a full array of advanced safety equipment, keyless engine start, a panoramic sliding sunroof, and two digital display options, depending on the trim and options selected. Dual seven-inch or twin 10.25-inch displays were offered, and the available 64-colour ambient lighting system (via the Premium package) bathes the A-Class cabin with customized lighting after dark. Optionally available multibeam LED headlights brought this high-end lighting technology into the compact segment, too.

Which One’s for You?

A-Class hatchback models were called the A 250, while the sedan was dubbed the A 220. Both were available with all-wheel drive.

Look for a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood of each, with the A 250 making 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the A 220 generating 188 hp and 221 lb-ft. A seven-speed dual-clutch automatic was the sole transmission offered.

Key competitors included the Audi A3, Mini Cooper, and BMW 2 Series. You can check out our Mercedes A-Class buyers guide here for more details and information.

What Owners Like

A convincingly upscale interior with plenty of rich colours, textures, and trimmings is commonly praised by owners, as is the wintertime traction offered by ones with all-wheel drive – on quality winter tires, of course. A concealed back-up camera stays hidden when not in use in another winter-friendly touch that negates the need to clean the lens after driving in snow and salt.

Other positives include an interior that’s roomier than it looks, and an agile and frisky handling feel that’s lively and engaging. On a past test drive of this machine, your author noted an impressive after-dark drive thanks primarily to the dramatic cabin ambient lighting and powerful headlight system.

What Owners Dislike

Common gripes include a small-ish trunk on sedan models, and strange placement of certain controls like the gear selector and heated steering wheel controls, both of which are attached to the steering column.

In some situations, the dual-clutch transmission can be clunky, especially in slow-moving traffic. This transmission responds best when worked hard.

Watch for Errors

On your test drive of a used A-Class, and especially a model with all-wheel drive, be on the lookout for warning messages, warning lights, or other errors displayed in the digital instrumentation. Some owners have reported difficulty shifting gears, non-responsive shift levers, stalling, no-start situations, and warnings or malfunctions with the all-wheel drive system, all of which display a warning in the instrument cluster. Many have not.

In some cases, a fresh battery solves electronic problems like these, though some owners have had fuse boxes, control modules, and wiring harnesses replaced. For best results, do not accept a used A-Class that’s showing any signs of warning or malfunction, and have the vehicle subjected to a diagnostic scan by a technician before you buy.

Though problems of this nature are par for the course with modern cars and are often easy to remedy, some A-Class owners have reported frustration at the need for multiple repair attempts and replacement parts required to effect a fix (often under warranty), so proceed with caution.

Cylinder Head Replacement

Some owners have noted serious engine trouble, including the need to replace or repair internal engine components. Many have not. Buying a low-mileage car with plenty of remaining warranty, and adding any optionally-available extended powertrain coverage, can help protect you from potential issues.

The engine’s top end may be to blame, with some owners reporting failed cylinder heads during their warranty periods, requiring extensive engine repair to remedy. A faulty cylinder head can negatively affect the engine’s compression, causing a loss of power and various error messages.

Here’s a discussion on Reddit where one technician explains that worn valve guides can cause excessive movement of the engine valves, resulting in cylinder head damage, wear, and a loss of compression. Here’s some more reading. According to the owner’s community, cylinder head trouble like this seems likely to occur between about 20,000 and 40,000 km, with exceptions.

On your test drive of a used A-Class, be on the lookout for a rough idle, stalling, warning lights or messages, poor or jerky performance, sporadic acceleration, and sloppy throttle response. All could be symptoms of cylinder head trouble.

Mercedes released this technical service bulletin (TSB) to help dealers address engine trouble in these machines. Thankfully, Mercedes Canada extended the cylinder head warranty on affected engines to 15 years and 241,000 km. Here’s a slew of additional information.

Faulty A/C

Some owners have reported air conditioners that cut out or perform inconsistently, especially during very hot weather. Most have not.

Where feasible, blast the air conditioning in the A-Class you’re test-driving for an extended period of eight to 10 minutes or more. Be sure that a stream of cold air is delivered when the system is activated, and that it’s available from all vents, including those in the rear seats, when selected.

Allow the air conditioner to run for at least eight minutes, confirming that the stream of cold air isn’t interrupted. If you notice any blinking lights on the A/C button, or notice the air conditioner cut out and pump warm air into the cabin while still engaged, have the vehicle seen by a technician before you buy.

Some owners have reported problems like these caused by refrigerant leaks, faulty compressors, faulty wiring, or the need for updated climate control system software. An old and clogged cabin air filter, or an air conditioner condenser that’s blocked by leaves and other debris, can cause issues here, too.

Check the front footwell carpeting for signs of dampness and moisture, both of which can be evidence of air conditioner trouble that allows components to ice up and melt, dripping water onto the vehicle’s floor.

Brake Pedal Feel

A used car’s brake pedal can reveal potential trouble when shoppers pay attention to how it feels in several situations on their test drive. This is an important step you should include when driving a used Mercedes A-Class before purchase.

Some owners have reported problems with brake pedal feel that could indicate larger problems with the vehicle’s braking system. Where appropriate, pull the vehicle down from cruising speed to a full stop and hold the car in place using the brakes once it comes to rest for 10 or 15 seconds. During this time, take note of the response from the brake pedal, which should remain consistently firm underneath your foot.

If the brake pedal instead begins to sink slowly or become spongy, the system should be investigated by a technician as there may be a problem with the master cylinder, leaky vacuum lines, or other components. Additionally, where appropriate, apply full emergency braking from a moderate speed to simulate a hard panic stop. You’ll need to hit the brakes very hard here.

When doing so, take note of the feel of the brake pedal. It should remain firm under your right foot, cause the vehicle to stop quickly, and engage the anti-lock braking system (ABS). If instead the brake pedal feels soft, spongy, sinks to the floor, or fails to trip the ABS into action, have a technician investigate before you buy.


If you’re buying a used A-Class, there’s a good chance it’s subject to one or more safety recalls, especially if it’s from model year 2019 or 2020. You can find a full list of Mercedes A-Class recalls here. Some recalls were more serious than others, but those only affected a small number of vehicles. More widespread recalls were listed, covering thousands of cars, too.

Recall work is performed free of charge by dealerships to address latent safety defects, but you’ll need to make an appointment ahead of time, and parts may need to be ordered. To see which, if any, recalls affect the specific A-Class you’re considering, enter its VIN here.

After buying a used A-Class, contact Mercedes Canada to register as the vehicle’s new owner, to make certain that future recall notices will be sent to you in a timely fashion. This is a good time to ask about the extended warranty coverage on the engine cylinder head, too.

 Safety Ratings