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The Corolla has standard Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats, which use a specially designed seat to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats 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 Corolla 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.
Both the Corolla and the CLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front 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, driver alert monitors 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 vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system, its standard vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Corolla the rating of “Top Pick” for 2020, a rating granted to only 30 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA does not qualify as a “Top Pick.”
Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla’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 Corolla’s reliability 34 points higher than the CLA.
J.D. Power and Associates rated the Corolla second among compact 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 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Mercedes is ranked 21st.
On the EPA test cycle the Corolla SE/XSE SE CVT 2.0 4 cyl. gets better fuel mileage than the CLA 250 FWD Auto (31 city/40 hwy vs. 24 city/37 hwy).
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Corolla uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on Corolla SE/XSE for maximum performance). The CLA requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The Corolla 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.
The Corolla offers an optional 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 better maneuverability, the Corolla’s turning circle is 1.9 feet tighter than the CLA’s (34.1 feet vs. 36 feet).
The Toyota Corolla may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 to 350 pounds less than the Mercedes CLA.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Corolla a Compact car, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.
The Corolla has 10.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (88.6 vs. 78).
The Corolla has .1 inches more front headroom, 2.1 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 7.7 inches more rear legroom and 1.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.
The front step up height for the Corolla is .5 inches lower than the CLA (14.5” vs. 15”). The Corolla’s rear step up height is 1.2 inches lower than the CLA’s (14.8” vs. 16”).
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 Corolla’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the CLA’s headlights are rated “Poor.”
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Corolla 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 Corolla XLE/XSE 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 Corolla has standard extendable sun visors. The CLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Toyota Corolla comes in sedan and four door hatchback bodystyles; the Mercedes CLA isn’t available as a four door hatchback.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Corolla is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $728 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Corolla than the CLA, including $192 less for a water pump, $215 less for a muffler, $573 less for a starter, $310 less for fuel injection, $232 less for a fuel pump, $62 less for front struts and $363 less for a power steering pump.
Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Corolla as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes CLA isn't recommended.
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