2019 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2018 BMW 330e

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Prius Prime 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 BMW 330e doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

To help make backing safer, the Prius Prime Advanced’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 330e doesn’t offer a cross-path warning 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 330e doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Prius Prime and the 330e have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head 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.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Acceptable” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Prius Prime the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 330e has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Prius Prime 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than BMW covers the 330e. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 5 years or 60,000 miles. Coverage on the 330e ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

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

Reliability

The 330e’s redline is at 7000 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The Prius Prime has a 4000 RPM redline.

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 BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 7th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. BMW is ranked 8th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime gets better fuel mileage than the 330e:

 

 

Prius

330e

 

 

Running on electricity (MPGe)

145 city/121 hwy

66 city/78 hwy

 

 

Running gasoline engine

55 city/53 hwy

28 city/34 hwy

 

The Prius Prime’s maximum driving range in pure electric mode is 25 miles, almost twice as far as the 330e’s 13-mile range.

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 330e doesn’t offer a CVT.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Prius Prime’s turning circle is 3.7 feet tighter than the 330e’s (33.4 feet vs. 37.1 feet).

Chassis

The Toyota Prius Prime may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 550 pounds less than the BMW 330e.

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 330e (.29) 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 330e doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Prius Prime Advanced is quieter than the 330e:

 

Prius

330e

At idle

27 dB

30 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

73 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Prius Prime a Mid-size car, while the 330e is rated a Compact.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger trunk than the 330e (19.8 vs. 10.8 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 330e doesn’t offer a remote starting 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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