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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 Nissan Maxima 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 Maxima doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
Both the CLA and the Maxima 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, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors 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 Maxima’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.
On the EPA test cycle the CLA 250 FWD Auto gets better fuel mileage than the Maxima CVT (25 city/35 hwy vs. 20 city/30 hwy).
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the CLA’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Maxima doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mercedes CLA higher (5 out of 10) than the Nissan Maxima (3). This means the CLA produces up to 16.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Maxima every 15,000 miles.
For better stopping power the CLA’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Maxima:
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 Maxima 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 Maxima’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
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 Maxima doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CLA is 1.1 inches wider in the front and .7 inches wider in the rear than on the Maxima.
For better maneuverability, the CLA’s turning circle is 2 feet tighter than the Maxima’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.1 feet).
The CLA is 8.2 inches shorter than the Maxima, making the CLA easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 38% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 17th.
Unlike the driver-only memory system in the Maxima SR/Platinum, the CLA has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
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 Maxima doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The CLA’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Maxima’s parking brake has to released manually.
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 Maxima’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the CLA offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Maxima 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’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the Maxima SV/SL/SR/Platinum.
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 Maxima 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 Maxima doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
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