2019 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The Prius Prime has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The Prius Prime’s 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 A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Prius Prime Advanced has standard Safety Connect™, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Sportback e-tron 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 Prius Prime and the A3 Sportback e-tron have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

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 headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Prius Prime the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A3 Sportback e-tron has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Prius Prime 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Audi covers the A3 Sportback e-tron. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the A3 Sportback e-tron ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Prius Prime for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A3 Sportback e-tron.

There are over 4 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Prius Prime’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Prius Prime’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the A3 Sportback e-tron’s camshafts. If the A3 Sportback e-tron’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 17th in initial quality. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Audi is ranked 7th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime gets better fuel mileage than the A3 Sportback e-tron:

 

 

Prius

A3

 

 

Running on electricity (MPGe)

145 city/121 hwy

81 city/86 hwy

 

 

Running gasoline engine

55 city/53 hwy

34 city/39 hwy

 

The Prius Prime’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 25 miles, 56% further than the A3 Sportback e-tron’s 16-mile range.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Prius Prime uses regular unleaded gasoline. The A3 Sportback e-tron requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Prius Prime has almost a gallon more fuel capacity than the A3 Sportback e-tron (11.4 vs. 10.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

The Prius Prime 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 A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a CVT.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Prius Prime’s wheelbase is 2.8 inches longer than on the A3 Sportback e-tron (106.3 inches vs. 103.5 inches).

For better maneuverability, the Prius Prime’s turning circle is 2.4 feet tighter than the A3 Sportback e-tron’s (33.4 feet vs. 35.8 feet).

Chassis

The Toyota Prius Prime may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 250 pounds less than the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron.

The design of the Toyota Prius Prime amounts to more than styling. The Prius Prime has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .25 Cd. That is significantly lower than the A3 Sportback e-tron (.32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Prius Prime get better fuel mileage.

The front grille of the Prius Prime uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Prius Prime has .7 inches more front headroom, 2 inches more front legroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Sportback e-tron.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger trunk than the A3 Sportback e-tron with its rear seat up (19.8 vs. 13.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Prius Prime Advanced has a standard 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 A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Prius Prime Advanced has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

On extremely cold winter days, the Prius Prime Advanced’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Prius Prime Advanced’s Intelligent Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Toyota Prius Prime, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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