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The Avalon has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats (WIL), which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the WIL system allows the backrest to travel backwards to cushion the occupants and the headrests move forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.
The Avalon has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The CLA doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Avalon Limited/Touring offers optional Rear Cross-Traffic 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.
The Avalon Limited/Touring offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera 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 Avalon’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 Avalon 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 and rear seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Avalon its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 46 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.
Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Avalon 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.
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Avalon for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CLA.
There are over 3 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Avalon’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 Avalon’s reliability 40 points higher than the CLA.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Avalon second 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 Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 4 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 Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 17th.
The Avalon’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 93 more horsepower (301 vs. 208) and 9 lbs.-ft. more torque (267 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.
As tested in Car and Driver the Toyota Avalon is faster than the Mercedes CLA:
Zero to 60 MPH
Zero to 100 MPH
5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start
Speed in 1/4 Mile
The Avalon XSE/Limited/TRD/Touring’s standard fuel tank has a gallon more fuel capacity than the CLA (15.8 vs. 14.8 gallons).
An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Toyota Avalon, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the CLA.
For better stopping power the Avalon TRD’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA:
For better traction, the Avalon XSE/TRD/Touring’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA (235/40R19 vs. 225/45R17).
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Avalon XSE/TRD/Touring has standard 19-inch wheels. The CLA’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.
The Avalon 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 Avalon’s wheelbase is 6.7 inches longer than on the CLA (113 inches vs. 106.3 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Avalon is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 2.7 inches wider in the rear than the track on the CLA.
The Avalon 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.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Avalon a Mid-size car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.
The Avalon has 26.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (104.3 vs. 78).
The Avalon has 1.9 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more front shoulder room, 2.1 inches more rear headroom, 13.2 inches more rear legroom and 3.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.
The Avalon has a much larger trunk than the CLA (16.1 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).
The Avalon uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The CLA uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.
The Avalon Limited/Touring’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The CLA doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Avalon Limited/Touring 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.
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 Avalon’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the CLA’s headlights are rated “Poor.”
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Avalon 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 avoid possible obstacles, the Avalon Limited/Touring has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. 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 Avalon has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Avalon has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the CLA. The Avalon Limited/Touring 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 Avalon Limited/Touring 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 Avalon Limited/Touring’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.
Insurance will cost less for the Avalon owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Avalon will cost $3205 to $5355 less than the CLA over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Avalon is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $409 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Avalon than the CLA, including $69 less for a water pump, $239 less for a muffler, $458 less for a starter, $203 less for fuel injection, $222 less for a fuel pump and $403 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota Avalon will be $1834 to $4404 less than for the Mercedes CLA.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Toyota Avalon, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.
The Toyota Avalon outsold the Mercedes CLA by 49% during 2018.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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