2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The CLA doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The TLX V6 offers an optional Surround View Camera System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The CLA only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

To help make backing safer, the TLX’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 CLA doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the TLX and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 and available blind spot warning systems.

Warranty

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the TLX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the CLA. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the CLA ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Reliability

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Acura vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Acura 4 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 82 more horsepower (290 vs. 208) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the Mercedes CLA 250:

TLX

CLA

Zero to 30 MPH

2 sec

2.4 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.8 sec

6.3 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.3 sec

10.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.1 sec

16.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.2 sec

7 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.6 sec

3.8 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4 sec

4.7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

95 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The CLA doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Acura TLX uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The TLX has 2.4 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA (17.2 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The TLX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The CLA doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura TLX V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the CLA.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the TLX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA (245/40R19 vs. 225/45R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the TLX A-Spec has standard 19-inch wheels. The CLA’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The TLX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The CLA doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The TLX offers an available space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the CLA; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the TLX’s wheelbase is 3 inches longer than on the CLA (109.3 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TLX is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA.

Chassis

The TLX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The CLA doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the TLX V6 SH-AWD is quieter than the CLA 250:

TLX

CLA

At idle

39 dB

43 dB

Full-Throttle

74 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the TLX a Compact car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.

The TLX has 15.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (93.3 vs. 78).

The TLX has 2.4 inches more front legroom, 1.5 inches more front shoulder room, 1.3 inches more rear headroom, 7.4 inches more rear legroom and 2.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

The TLX has a much larger trunk than the CLA (14.3 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the TLX offers cargo security. The CLA’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The TLX uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

The TLX’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CLA doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The TLX’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the CLA’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the TLX detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the TLX has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The TLX has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the CLA. The TLX Advance also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the TLX Advance/V6 A-Spec keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The CLA doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the TLX Advance’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The CLA doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $2160 to $4970 less than the CLA over a five-year period.

The TLX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the TLX will retain 48.4% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the CLA only retains 46.37% to 46.78%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $337 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the TLX than the CLA, including $163 less for a water pump, $169 less for a starter, $200 less for a fuel pump and $14 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.

The Acura TLX outsold the Mercedes CLA by 35% during 2018.

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

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