2019 Ford Mustang vs. 2018 Fiat 500

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Mustang offers optional Pre-Collision Assist, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The 500 doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Mustang’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 500 doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the Mustang Premium’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 500 doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Mustang’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The 500 doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Mustang has standard 911 Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get turn-by-turn driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500 doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the Mustang and the 500 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

The Ford Mustang weighs 966 to 1399 pounds more than the Fiat 500. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

Ford’s powertrain warranty covers the Mustang 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500 ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 8 times as many Ford dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Mustang’s warranty.

Reliability

The camshafts in the Mustang’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The 500’s camshaft is driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the 500’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

The Mustang has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The 500 doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

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 Mustang’s reliability 18 points higher than the 500.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Mustang first among midsize sporty cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The 500 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford 16th in reliability. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Mustang has more powerful engines than the 500:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Mustang 2.3 turbo 4 cyl.

310 HP

350 lbs.-ft.

Mustang GT 5.0 DOHC V8

460 HP

420 lbs.-ft.

Mustang BULLITT 5.0 DOHC V8

480 HP

420 lbs.-ft.

500 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

135 HP

150 lbs.-ft.

500 Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

157 HP

183 lbs.-ft.

500 Abarth 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

160 HP

170 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Mustang GT is faster than the 500 Abarth (manual transmissions tested):

 

Mustang

500

Zero to 60 MPH

4.3 sec

7 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

9.7 sec

19.2 sec

Quarter Mile

12.6 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

115 MPH

88 MPH

Top Speed

155 MPH

129 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Mustang EcoBoost’s standard fuel tank has 5 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (15.5 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Mustang GT’s standard fuel tank has 5.5 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500 (16 vs. 10.5 gallons).

The Mustang has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The 500 doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

A six-speed manual is standard on the Ford Mustang, with closer gear ratios for better performance and a lower final drive ratio for quieter highway operation, less engine wear and better fuel mileage. Only a five-speed manual is available for the 500.

The Mustang Manual’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The 500 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Mustang’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500:

 

Mustang

Mustang GT

Mustang GT opt.

500

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

13.9 inches

15 inches

11.1 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

13 inches

13 inches

9.4 inches

The Mustang’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the 500 are solid, not vented.

The Mustang stops much shorter than the 500:

 

Mustang

500

 

70 to 0 MPH

164 feet

195 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

104 feet

117 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Mustang has larger standard tires than the 500 (235/55R17 vs. 195/45R16). The Mustang Premium’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500 (265/35R20 vs. 205/40R17).

The Mustang Premium’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 500 Abarth’s optional 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Mustang has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500. The Mustang Premium’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels optional on the 500 Abarth.

The Ford Mustang’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500 only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The Mustang 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 500; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Ford Mustang has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Fiat 500 has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Mustang has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The 500’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Mustang has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Mustang flat and controlled during cornering. The 500 base model’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The Mustang offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The 500’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Mustang’s wheelbase is 16.5 inches longer than on the 500 (107.1 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Mustang is 7 inches wider in the front and 10.1 inches wider in the rear than on the 500.

The Mustang GT Premium Fastback handles at 1.00 G’s, while the 500 pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Mustang GT Premium Fastback executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 4.4 seconds quicker than the 500 (24 seconds vs. 28.4 seconds).

For better maneuverability, the Mustang’s turning circle is 1.1 feet tighter than the 500’s (36.5 feet vs. 37.6 feet).

Chassis

The front grille of the Mustang (except Performance Pack) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The 500 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The Mustang uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The 500 doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The Mustang Fastback has 7.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500 (82.8 vs. 75.5).

The Mustang Fastback has 4.4 inches more front legroom, 7.1 inches more front hip room, 6.9 inches more front shoulder room, 4.8 inches more rear hip room and 5.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500.

Cargo Capacity

The Mustang Fastback has a much larger trunk than the 500 with its rear seat up (13.5 vs. 9.5 cubic feet).

A standard locking glovebox and optional locking center console keeps your small valuables safer in the Mustang. The 500 doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

The Mustang has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The 500 has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the Mustang is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the 500. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The Mustang Auto offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The 500 doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Mustang has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 500 doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

When three different drivers share the Mustang Premium, the optional memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, suspension setting, power steering assist and outside mirror angle. The 500 doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Mustang Premium’s optional easy entry system 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 500 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Mustang’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 500 does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Mustang’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The 500’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Mustang’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500’s available power window controls are spread out on the center console where they can’t be seen without the driver completely removing his eyes from the road.

On a hot day the Mustang’s driver can lower all the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 500 can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

Intelligent Access standard on the Mustang allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Fiat 500 doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Mustang’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The 500’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

The Mustang has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Mustang detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500 doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Mustang has standard extendable sun visors. The 500 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Mustang Premium keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 500 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Mustang Premium’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The 500 doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Mustang’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500 doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Mustang offers an optional Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The 500 doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Mustang owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Mustang with a number “3” insurance rate while the 500 is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Mustang is less expensive to operate than the 500 because it costs $27 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Mustang than the 500, including $193 less for a water pump, $117 less for a starter, $196 less for fuel injection and $338 less for a fuel pump.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Mustang third among midsize sporty cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The 500 isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Ford Mustang outsold the Fiat 500 by over six to one during 2017.

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

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