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Both the A6 and CLS have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The A6 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The CLS’ child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.
The A6 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The CLS doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the A6. But it costs extra on the CLS.
A passive infrared night vision system optional on the A6 Prestige helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The CLS doesn’t offer a night vision system.
To help make backing safer, the A6’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The CLS doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Both the A6 and the CLS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.
The A6’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLS’ (12 vs. 5 years).
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 6 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 10 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.
On the EPA test cycle the A6 gets better fuel mileage than the CLS 550 4MATIC (22 city/29 hwy vs. 17 city/25 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the A6’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLS doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A6 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CLS requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The A6 stops shorter than the CLS:
60 to 0 MPH
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A6 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 18-inch wheels are standard on the CLS. The A6 Prestige’s optional 21-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the CLS.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A6’s wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the CLS (115.1 inches vs. 113.2 inches).
The A6 Prestige handles at .93 G’s, while the CLS 550 4MATIC pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.
The A6 Prestige executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CLS 550 (24.9 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 25.6 seconds @ .77 average G’s).
For better maneuverability, the A6’s turning circle is .3 feet tighter than the CLS’ (36.4 feet vs. 36.7 feet). The A6’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the CLS 4MATIC’s (36.4 feet vs. 37 feet).
The A6 has standard seating for 5 passengers; the CLS can only carry 4.
The A6 has 1.1 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room, 2 inches more rear headroom and 2.4 inches more rear legroom than the CLS.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the A6’s available trunk can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The CLS doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The A6 has a 3500 lbs. towing capacity. The CLS has no towing capacity.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Mercedes. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 3% lower rating, Mercedes is ranked 6th.
The A6 Prestige has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The CLS doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A6 Premium Plus/Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLS doesn’t offer headlight washers.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A6 has standard extendable sun visors. The CLS doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Audi A6/S6 outsold the Mercedes CLS by almost 10 to one during the 2018 model year.
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