2020 Toyota Camry Hybrid vs. 2019 Mercedes CLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The Camry Hybrid 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 Camry Hybrid 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 Camry Hybrid XLE offers an optional Rear Cross Traffic Braking that use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The CLA doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Camry Hybrid XLE 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 Camry Hybrid’s optional 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 Camry Hybrid 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, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

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 front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Camry Hybrid its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 54 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

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Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Camry Hybrid 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 Camry Hybrid 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 Camry Hybrid’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 Camry Hybrid’s reliability 13 points higher than the CLA.

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.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the Camry Hybrid CVT gets better fuel mileage than the CLA FWD SMG (51 city/53 hwy vs. 24 city/37 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Camry Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Camry Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

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The Camry Hybrid 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.

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Camry Hybrid SE/XLE’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the CLA (235/45R18 vs. 225/45R17).

The Camry Hybrid 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.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Camry Hybrid’s wheelbase is 4.9 inches longer than on the CLA (111.2 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Camry Hybrid is 1.7 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the CLA.

The Camry Hybrid’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (57.3% to 42.7%) than the CLA’s (61% to 39%). This gives the Camry Hybrid more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

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The front grille of the Camry Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The CLA doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Camry Hybrid XLE is quieter than the CLA 250:

Camry Hybrid

CLA

At idle

38 dB

43 dB

Full-Throttle

72 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

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

The Camry Hybrid has 21.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (99.9 vs. 78).

The Camry Hybrid has .1 inches more front headroom, 1.9 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front shoulder room, 2.2 inches more rear headroom, 10.9 inches more rear legroom and 2.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Cargo Capacity

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The Camry Hybrid has a much larger trunk than the CLA (15.1 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

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The Camry Hybrid 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.

Ergonomics

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The Camry Hybrid XLE offers an optional 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 Camry Hybrid’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The CLA’s cruise control switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

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 Camry Hybrid’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 Camry Hybrid 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 Camry Hybrid XLE offers optional 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 Camry Hybrid has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Camry Hybrid XLE 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.

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Camry Hybrid owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Camry Hybrid will cost $2965 to $5025 less than the CLA over a five-year period.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Toyota Camry Hybrid will be $12849 to $12871 less than for the Mercedes CLA.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Camry Hybrid as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Camry Hybrid first among midsize cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The CLA was rated second in its category.

The Toyota Camry outsold the Mercedes CLA by almost 25 to one during the 2019 model year.

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

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