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Buy a 2020 Toyota Camry XLE V6 or Buy This: 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220

What’s that? I’ve lost my mind? No one should compare a small Mercedes-Benz to a midsize Toyota? Oh, really? Well hang onto your hat, friend, because I’m about to do just that.

Whether I should or not, you may also be wondering why on earth I’d even bother. The answer comes down to price. More times than I can count, I’ve had friends or family consult me for car-buying advice only to ultimately pick a car that’s not only not on the list I gave them, but not on their list, either. The invariant reason? It was the right monthly payment. I’ve learned some measure of accepting things I cannot change, so instead I recite the catchphrase of an ill-fated public health campaign from my youth: I learned it from watching you.

So, without further self-dialogue, the specs:

2020 Toyota Camry XLE V6 Specifications 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Specifications
PRICE: $35,575/$38,365 (base/as configured) PRICE: $33,645/$38,625 (base/as configured)
POWER: 301 hp @ 6,600 rpm POWER: 188 hp @ 5,800-6,100 rpm
TORQUE: 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm TORQUE: 221 lb-ft @ 1,250-4,000 rpm
WEIGHT: 3,549 lb WEIGHT: 3,285 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.8 sec 0-60 MPH: 7.1 sec
L x W x H: 192.1 x 72.4 x 56.9 in L x W x H: 179.1 x 70.7 x 56.9 in
EPA MILEAGE: 22/33 mpg (city/hwy) EPA MILEAGE: 24/35 mpg (city/hwy)

Toyota Camry XLE vs. Mercedes-Benz A220: The Benz’s Weaknesses

These two cars price out to within $260 of each other when equipped as they are here. The most obvious disadvantage of the 2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 compared to the 2020 Toyota Camry XLE V6 is its power figure: The 188-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder under the A220’s hood is punchy and well-suited to the car’s 3,285-pound heft, but it’s a league behind the 301-hp, 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 in the Camry. The Toyota has enough extra power that despite the Camry’s nearly 300-pound weight disadvantage, it’s still more than a second quicker to 60 mph.

Of course, the extra weight and power should come with a gas-mileage penalty, and they do, though perhaps not as large a penalty as you might expect. The A220 tops the Camry on city, highway, and combined EPA mpg ratings, but only by 2 mpg across the board. It’s a difference, but it’s not huge.

What’s also not huge is the A220’s interior, though that should be expected thanks to a 4.0-inch shorter wheelbase, and being 13 inches shorter overall. It’s also not a cramped place—the current A220 was so impressive upon its debut that we included it in our best-of-the-year All-Stars competition, and though it didn’t come out as one of the winners, it was only by the narrowest of margins. During our week-long test of the A220, which included frequent trips with every seat in the car full, we found the A220 to be “a vast improvement over the first CLA-Class sedans imported to the U.S., with a livable back seat.” Also not huge? The A220’s trunk, at 8.6 cubic-feet with the rear seats up. That’s just slightly larger than half the volume of the Camry XLE’s 15.1-cubic-feet of trunk space, likewise with the folding rear seats in their upright position.

Toyota Camry XLE V6 vs. Mercedes-Benz A220: The Benz’s Strengths

Now that we have the A220’s primary shortcomings out the way, we can move onto the strengths, which includes basically everything else. The Benz is more stylish, with higher-end design, better interior materials, and vastly superior technology. Sure, the Camry XLE will do most of the same stuff as the Mercedes, technologically speaking (and the big HUD is cool), but the Mercedes, with its fancy MBUX infotainment system and the (as-configured, but optional) MBUX assistant, feels lightyears more advanced. It’s just a better user experience—as it should be, given that you’re paying the same amount of money for a much smaller, less powerful car.

Oh, and did I mention the dual 10.25-inch screens? One for the driver as the instrument panel, and one in the center for the infotainment system and navigation.  They’re high-res, responsive, and bright in all conditions.

Then there’s the issue of maintenance and repair costs. Buying into a luxury brand can be nice, but when it’s $150 or more for an oil change versus the $40 special at the local lube-n-tune, luxurious can begin to feel like usurious. Wait, shouldn’t this be in the disadvantages section, then? Normally, yes, but in this configuration, I’ve specified three years of prepaid maintenance, which Mercedes says can save up to 30 percent off of retail service and repair costs. Even if it doesn’t, it at least lets you put a manageable $370 per year budget (the $1,110 option price divided over three years) in place to keep costs under control.

I really can’t overstate just how nice the A220 is, despite its compact size. Contributor Basem Wasef said it well in our Automobile All-Stars coverage: “It’s a minor tragedy when a car as well thought-out as the A-Class doesn’t make the cut for All-Star status. Techy, efficiently laid-out, and forward thinking in nearly every way, the A-Class gets lost in the mix perhaps because its sensible small-sedan layout simply isn’t all that sensational. Regardless, it’s a really good car.”

Toyota Camry XLE V6 vs. Mercedes-Benz A220: Treat Yo’ Self?

So, which to buy? While you really can’t go wrong with either, if it’s not clear that I’d put my $38,000 and change on the A220, perhaps the full configuration spec of each will make it clearer.

2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Configuration

2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Options

Exterior

  • Mojave Silver Metallic paint: $720
  • Standard 17-inch 10-spoke wheels: $0

Interior

  • Black MB-Tex: $0
  • Aluminum trim with linear grain: $0

2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Entertainment and Convenience

Premium Package: $1,750

  • 10.25-inch instrument panel display
  • 10.25-inch touchscreen center display
  • Auto-dimming driver’s side/inside rearview mirrors
  • Power-folding side mirrors
  • Keyless entry and start

Inductive Wireless Charging and NFC Pairing: $200

MBUX Interior Assistant: $200

2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Service and Care

Mercedes-Benz Premier Service/3 Years or 30,000 miles: $1,110

  • Covers three factory-scheduled maintenance services
  • Transferrable if you sell the car
  • Annual/10,000-mile service includes:
    • Oil and filter replacement
    • Wiper blade replacement
    • Fluid level check and top-up
    • Multi-point inspection
  • Biennial/20,000-mile service includes:
      • All of 10K-mile service items
      • Activated charcoal filter replacement
      • Dust filter replacement
      • Brake fluid change

2020 Mercedes-Benz A220 Standard Features

  • Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Power front seats with three-position memory
  • Manually adjustable steering column
  • 40/20/40 split folding rear seat
  • Rear center arm rest with dual cupholders
  • Panoramic glass roof
  • 64-color LED ambient lighting
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Steering wheel touch-control buttons
  • OTA software updates
  • MBUX infotainment
  • Voice control with natural language function
  • Touchpad infotainment controller
  • HD Radio
  • Hands-free Bluetooth
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • USB ports: 5, all USB Type C

2020 Toyota Camry XSE V-6 Configuration

2020 Camry XLE Options

Exterior

  • Celestial Silver Metallic: $0

Interior

  • Ash leather upholstery: $0

2020 Camry XLE Comfort and Convenience

  • Driver Assist Package with options: $2,790
    • Driver assist features
    • Navigation upgrade

2020 Camry XLE Standard Features

  • Dual-zone automatic climate control with air filter and rear-seat vents
  • LED headlights, tail lights, and daytime running lights
  • Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging
  • 10-inch color head-up display (HUD) with customizable settings
  • Tiger Eye wood interior trim
  • Smart Key System on front doors and trunk with Push Button Start, remote
  • Keyless entry system and remote illuminated entry
  • Audio Plus with JBL w/Clari-Fi, includes subwoofer and amplifier,
  • 8-inch touchscreen center display
  • 7-inch TFT instrument panel display
  • HD Radio
  • Handsfree Bluetooth
  • USB ports: 1 media port, 2 charge ports, USB Type A
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Toyota+ Alexa App