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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 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid 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 Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The CLA offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Malibu Hybrid only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.
The CLA’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the CLA and the Malibu Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, 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 rear cross-path warning.
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 Malibu Hybrid’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
The CLA’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Malibu Hybrid’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 6 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.
The CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 39 more horsepower (221 vs. 182) than the Malibu Hybrid’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.
For better stopping power the CLA’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Malibu Hybrid:
The CLA’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Malibu Hybrid’s standard 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CLA has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 17-inch wheels are available on the Malibu Hybrid. The CLA offers optional 19-inch wheels.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available 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 Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
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 Malibu Hybrid’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The CLA has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
The CLA’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For better maneuverability, the CLA’s turning circle is .9 feet tighter than the Malibu Hybrid’s (36.1 feet vs. 37 feet).
The CLA is 9.6 inches shorter than the Malibu Hybrid, making the CLA easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the CLA’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Malibu Hybrid’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Chevrolet. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 25% lower rating, Chevrolet is ranked 13th.
When three different drivers share the CLA, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions and outside mirror angle. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a memory system.
The CLA offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
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 Malibu Hybrid’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the CLA offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights. The CLA also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
The CLA offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Malibu Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the CLA keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the CLA offers an optional Active Distance Assist Distronic, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Mercedes CLA offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The CLA’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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