2018 Mercedes CLA vs. 2018 Nissan Maxima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes CLA have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Nissan Maxima doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The CLA offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The CLA’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The Maxima doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

Both the CLA and the Maxima have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The CLA comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CLA 250 FWD gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima (24 city/37 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the CLA’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Maxima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

The CLA’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Maxima doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

The CLA stops much shorter than the Maxima:

 

CLA

Maxima

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

168 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

112 feet

125 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

141 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the CLA can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Maxima doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The CLA offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Maxima’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The CLA 250 handles at .92 G’s, while the Maxima Platinum pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The CLA 250 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Maxima Platinum (26.2 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .67 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the CLA’s turning circle is 2.1 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Mercedes CLA may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 pounds less than the Nissan Maxima.

The CLA is 10.5 inches shorter than the Maxima, making the CLA easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the Mercedes CLA amounts to more than styling. The CLA has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .28 Cd. That is lower than the Maxima (.29 to .3) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the CLA get better fuel mileage.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the CLA’s available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The Maxima doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Maxima Platinum, the CLA has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The power windows standard on both the CLA and the Maxima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the CLA is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Maxima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The CLA’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Maxima’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

The CLA’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Maxima’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The CLA’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.

The CLA’s optional Parking Pilot can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Maxima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the CLA owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the CLA will cost $2415 less than the Maxima over a five-year period.

The CLA will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the CLA will retain 45.88% to 48.93% of its original price after five years, while the Maxima only retains 33.86% to 38.67%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CLA is less expensive to operate than the Maxima because typical repairs cost much less on the CLA than the Maxima, including $7 less for an alternator and $559 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Mercedes CLA will be $7550 to $12264 less than for the Nissan Maxima.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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