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The Mazda 6 has standard Whiplash Reducing Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Reducing Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Mazda 6 Signature has a standard 360-degree View Monitor 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 Mazda 6’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 Mazda 6 and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, its standard vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its standard headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Mazda 6 its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA is not even a standard “Top Pick.”
Mazda’s powertrain warranty covers the 6 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.
There are over 45 percent more Mazda dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 6’s warranty.
A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Mazda 6’s reliability 18 points higher than the CLA.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda second in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 21st.
The Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4-cylinder produces 42 more horsepower (250 vs. 208) and 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.
An engine control system that can shut down some of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 6 (except Turbo)’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 Mazda 6 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature for maximum performance). The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Mazda 6 has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA (16.4 vs. 14.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature has standard 19-inch wheels. The CLA’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.
The Mazda 6 has a standard 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.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mazda 6’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the CLA (111.4 inches vs. 106.3 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Mazda 6 is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 1.4 inches wider in the rear than the track on the CLA.
The Mazda 6 (except Sport) offers available 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 Mazda 6 Touring is quieter than the CLA 250:
70 MPH Cruising
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Mazda 6 a Mid-size car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.
The Mazda 6 has 21.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (99.7 vs. 78).
The Mazda 6 has .2 inches more front headroom, 2 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 11.6 inches more rear legroom and 1.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.
The Mazda 6 has a much larger trunk than the CLA (14.7 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).
The Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature 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 CLA doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
Consumer Reports rated the Mazda 6’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the CLA’s headlights, which were rated “Fair.”
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 Mazda 6’s headlights were rated “Good” to “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the CLA’s headlights are rated “Poor.”
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Mazda 6 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The CLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The CLA doesn’t offer cornering lights.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Mazda 6 has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.
Both the Mazda 6 and the CLA offer available heated front seats. The Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature 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 Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature 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 Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature’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.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Mazda 6 is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $475 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Mazda 6 than the CLA, including $252 less for a water pump, $269 less for a muffler, $765 less for a starter, $77 less for fuel injection, $158 less for a fuel pump, $11 less for front struts and $314 less for a power steering pump.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Mazda 6, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.
The Mazda 6 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 2 of the last 7 years. The CLA has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.
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