2019 Mazda CX-3 vs. 2019 Fiat 500L

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mazda CX-3 are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The CX-3 has standard Smart City Brake Support, 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 500L doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The CX-3 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500L doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The CX-3’s optional lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane. The 500L doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

To help make backing safer, the CX-3’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 500L doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The CX-3 has standard E911 Automatic Emergency Notification, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The 500L 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 CX-3 and the 500L have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Mazda CX-3 is safer than the 500L:

 

CX-3

500L

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

135

228

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

14 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

22 cm

22 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Femur Force R/L

.5/.3 kN

10.1/3.9 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

63%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Tibia index R/L

.44/.49

.88/.82

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the CX-3 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500L was not even a standard “Top Pick” for 2018.

Warranty

Mazda’s powertrain warranty covers the CX-3 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Fiat covers the 500L. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 500L ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

There are over 38 percent more Mazda dealers than there are Fiat dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the CX-3’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the CX-3’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500L’s camshaft. If the 500L’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 48 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

As tested in Car and Driver the Mazda CX-3 is faster than the Fiat 500L:

 

CX-3

500L

Zero to 30 MPH

2.8 sec

3.5 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

8.1 sec

8.9 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.3 sec

9.5 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.9 sec

4.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

5.7 sec

5.8 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.9 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CX-3 gets better fuel mileage than the 500L:

 

 

 

MPG

CX-3

 

FWD

2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

29 city/34 hwy

 

AWD

2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/32 hwy

500L

 

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Mazda CX-3 uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500L requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Brakes and Stopping

The CX-3 stops shorter than the 500L:

 

CX-3

500L

 

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CX-3 has larger tires than the 500L (215/60R16 vs. 205/55R16).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-3 Grand Touring/Touring has standard 18-inch wheels. The 500L’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.

The Mazda CX-3’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 500L only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

Suspension and Handling

The CX-3 Grand Touring AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the 500L Lounge pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The CX-3 Grand Touring AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the 500L Lounge (27.6 seconds @ .66 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Chassis

The Mazda CX-3 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 450 pounds less than the Fiat 500L.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the CX-3 Touring AWD is quieter than the 500L Lounge:

 

CX-3

500L

At idle

39 dB

45 dB

Full-Throttle

78 dB

79 dB

Ergonomics

The CX-3 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 500L doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the CX-3 Grand Touring, the optional memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The 500L doesn’t offer memory seats.

The CX-3 Grand 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 500L doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Pushbutton Start standard on the CX-3 Sport allows you to start the engine without removing a key from pocket or purse (CX-3 Touring/Grand Touring’s Advanced Keyless Entry and Start will also allow unlocking the driver’s door and cargo door without taking your keys out). The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The CX-3 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The 500L doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The CX-3’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The 500L’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the CX-3 has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 500L only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.

The CX-3 offers an optional automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the CX-3 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the CX-3 Grand Touring has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The 500L doesn’t offer cornering lights.

On extremely cold winter days, the CX-3 Grand Touring’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the vehicle heater warms up. The 500L doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the CX-3 offers an optional Radar 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 500L doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the CX-3 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the CX-3 will cost $345 to $1320 less than the 500L over a five-year period.

The CX-3 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the CX-3 will retain 45.65% to 46.16% of its original price after five years, while the 500L only retains 33.98% to 34.52%.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Mazda CX-3 will be $4725 to $7399 less than for the Fiat 500L.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Mazda CX-3, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

The Mazda CX-3 outsold the Fiat 500L by over 11 to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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