Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2017 BMW 3 Series VS 2017 Mercedes CLA Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2017 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2017 Mercedes CLA

Safety Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The CLA doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan 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.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an optional Surround View 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.

Both the 3 Series Sedan 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 seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 3 Series Sedan the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 108 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The CLA has not been fully tested, yet.

Warranty Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the CLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the CLA.

Reliability Comparison

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the 3 Series Sedan’s reliability will be 61% better than the CLA.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 15th, below the industry average.

Engine Comparison

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The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 40 more horsepower (248 vs. 208) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 112 more horsepower (320 vs. 208) and 72 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 258) than the CLA’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road and Track the 330i is faster than the Mercedes CLA250 (automatics tested):

 

3 Series

CLA

Zero to 60 MPH

5.4 sec

6.5 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99.5 MPH

96.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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On the EPA test cycle the 328d gets better fuel mileage than the CLA250:

 

 

3 Series

CLA

 

RWD

Auto

31 city/43 hwy

24 city/36 hwy

 

AWD

Auto

30 city/40 hwy

23 city/32 hwy

 

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the CLA:

 

 

3 Series

CLA

 

AWD

320i/Auto

23 city/34 hwy

23 city/32 hwy

250 FFV/Auto

 

330i/Auto

23 city/33 hwy

23 city/31 hwy

250/Auto

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The CLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard fuel tank has a gallon more fuel capacity than the CLA (15.8 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the 340i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the CLA:

 

340i

CLA

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.6 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’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 3 Series Sedan stops shorter than the CLA:

 

3 Series

CLA

 

80 to 0 MPH

206 feet

211 feet

Road and Track

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

114 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the CLA’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The CLA’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 4.3 inches longer than on the CLA (110.6 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 1.1 inches wider in the rear than on the CLA.

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50% to 50%) than the CLA’s (61% to 39%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 340i xDrive handles at .94 G’s, while the CLA250 pulls only .90 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 340i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the CLA250 (25.6 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 26.4 seconds @ .69 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

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As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 330i is quieter than the CLA250:

 

3 Series

CLA

At idle

40 dB

43 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

76 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

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Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the 3 Series Sedan is rated a Compact car by the EPA, while the CLA is rated a Subcompact.

The 3 Series Sedan has 18.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the CLA (96.2 vs. 78).

The 3 Series Sedan has 2.1 inches more front headroom, 1.8 inches more front legroom, 2.3 inches more rear headroom, 8 inches more rear legroom and 1.9 inches more rear shoulder room than the CLA.

Ergonomics Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an available heads-up display which 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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The CLA doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The CLA doesn’t offer headlight washers.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) 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 3 Series Sedan offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The CLA doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The CLA doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the CLA offer optional heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the CLA.

On extremely cold Winter days, the 3 Series Sedan’s optional 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.

The 3 Series Sedan has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The CLA doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the CLA because it costs $324 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sedan than the CLA, including $289 less for an alternator, $86 less for front brake pads, $440 less for a starter, $105 less for a fuel pump, $320 less for front struts and $12 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations Comparison

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The BMW 3 Series Sedan has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

3 Series

CLA

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

FALSE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

Road and Track performed a comparison test in its June 2014 issue and the BMW 320i won out over the Mercedes CLA250.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 23 years. The CLA has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 21 years. The CLA has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Mercedes CLA by over three to one during the 2016 model year.

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