2020 Nissan Maxima vs. 2020 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/30

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 Maxima 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 Maxima has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Maxima has standard Rear Automatic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The CLA doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Maxima and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 and available around view monitors.

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 “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Maxima its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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Nissan’s powertrain warranty covers the Maxima 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 almost 3 times as many Nissan dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Maxima’s warranty.

Reliability

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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 Maxima’s reliability 33 points higher than the CLA.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The CLA isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Nissan vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Nissan 7th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 12th, below the industry average.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 10 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

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The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 79 more horsepower (300 vs. 221) and 3 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Mercedes CLA:

Maxima

CLA

Zero to 60 MPH

6.5 sec

6.6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.9 sec

15.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.1 MPH

96 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The Maxima has 4.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the CLA (18 vs. 13.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The Maxima 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.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Maxima’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the CLA are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops shorter than the CLA:

Maxima

CLA

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

143 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the CLA (245/45R18 vs. 225/45R18).

The Maxima SR/Platinum’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA’s 45 series tires.

The Maxima 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.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Maxima’s wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the CLA (109.3 inches vs. 107.4 inches).

Chassis

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The Maxima SL/SR/Platinum 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.

Passenger Space

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

The Maxima has 9.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (98.5 vs. 89).

The Maxima has .9 inches more front headroom, 3.2 inches more front legroom, 1.6 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, .3 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

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The Maxima has a much larger trunk than the CLA (14.3 vs. 11.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/30

The Maxima’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.

Both the Maxima and the CLA offer available heated front seats. The Maxima Platinum Reserve also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/30

Consumer Reports® recommends the Nissan Maxima, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.

The Nissan Maxima outsold the Mercedes CLA by almost three to one during 2019.

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

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