2020 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid vs. 2019 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Malibu Hybrid are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The CLA doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Malibu Hybrid’s standard pretensioning seatbelts also sense rear collisions and remove slack from the front seatbelts to help protect the occupants from whiplash and other injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To help make backing safer, the Malibu Hybrid’s 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 Malibu Hybrid and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Malibu Hybrid the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 157 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been fully tested, yet.


Chevrolet’s powertrain warranty covers the Malibu Hybrid 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Mercedes covers the CLA. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the CLA ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

The Malibu Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the CLA’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are almost 8 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Malibu Hybrid’s warranty.


The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the CLA’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

The CLA’s redline is at 6300 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The Malibu Hybrid has a 5000 RPM redline.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.


The Malibu Hybrid’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 117 lbs.-ft. more torque (375 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the CLA FWD (49 city/43 hwy vs. 24 city/37 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Malibu Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Malibu Hybrid 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.


The Malibu Hybrid has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The CLA doesn’t offer a CVT.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Malibu Hybrid’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the CLA (111.4 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Malibu Hybrid is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA.

The Malibu Hybrid’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58.4% to 41.6%) than the CLA’s (61% to 39%). This gives the Malibu Hybrid more stable handling and braking.


The front grille of the Malibu Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CLA doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Malibu Hybrid is quieter than the CLA 250:

Malibu Hybrid


At idle

38 dB

43 dB


75 dB

76 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Malibu Hybrid a Mid-size car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.

The Malibu Hybrid has 24.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (102.9 vs. 78).

The Malibu Hybrid has .9 inches more front headroom, 1.3 inches more front legroom, 2.5 inches more front shoulder room, 2.1 inches more rear headroom, 11 inches more rear legroom and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

The front step up height for the Malibu Hybrid is 1.5 inches lower than the CLA (13.5” vs. 15”). The Malibu Hybrid’s rear step up height is 1.9 inches lower than the CLA’s (14.1” vs. 16”).


The Malibu Hybrid has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The CLA has no towing capacity.


The Malibu Hybrid’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The CLA does not have an oil pressure gauge.

Consumer Reports rated the Malibu Hybrid’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the CLA’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Malibu Hybrid 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 Malibu Hybrid has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

On extremely cold winter days, the Malibu Hybrid’s optional 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 Malibu Hybrid owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Malibu Hybrid will cost $3605 to $5075 less than the CLA over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will be $8456 to $11908 less than for the Mercedes CLA.

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

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