2019 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2019 Fiat 500e

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

To maximize occupant safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Prius Prime have pretensioners to eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer pretensioners.

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 Fiat 500e doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Prius Prime has a standard Pre-Collision System, which uses 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 500e doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

The Prius Prime’s 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 500e doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Prius Prime Advanced has standard Intelligent Clearance Sonar to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 500e doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

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 500e 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 500e 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 500e 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 500e have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

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 500e has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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. Fiat doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the 500e.

There are almost 3 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Prius Prime’s warranty.

Reliability

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 Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 65 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The Prius Prime’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 10 more horsepower (121 vs. 111) than the 500e’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the 500e (145 city/121 hwy vs. 121 city/103 hwy MPGe).

The Prius Prime’s maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel and a full charge is 652 miles, after which it can be refueled at any gas station in minutes. The 500e’s range is only 84 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 4 hours. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 24 hours.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Prius Prime has larger tires than the 500e (195/65R15 vs. 185/55R15).

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

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Prius Prime 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 500e has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

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

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Prius Prime’s wheelbase is 15.7 inches longer than on the 500e (106.3 inches vs. 90.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Prius Prime is 4.8 inches wider in the front and 5.6 inches wider in the rear than on the 500e.

The Prius Prime’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55.5% to 44.5%) than the 500e’s (57% to 43%). This gives the Prius Prime more stable handling and braking.

Chassis

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 500e (.311) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the Prius Prime get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Prius Prime a Mid-size car, while the 500e is rated a Minicompact.

The Prius Prime has 19.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500e (91.5 vs. 71.6).

The Prius Prime has .5 inches more front headroom, 2.5 inches more front legroom, 5.9 inches more front hip room, 4.8 inches more front shoulder room, 1.7 inches more rear headroom, 5.8 inches more rear legroom, 9 inches more rear hip room and 6.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500e.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger trunk than the 500e (19.8 vs. 7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Prius Prime easier. The Prius Prime’s trunk lift-over height is 26.5 inches, while the 500e’s liftover is 28.1 inches.

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 500e doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Prius Prime 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 500e doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

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 500e doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Prius Prime’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Fiat does not offer a locking feature on the 500e’s standard power windows.

The Prius Prime’s front and rear power windows all 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 500e’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

The Prius Prime’s standard power window controls are mounted on the armrest for easy access. The 500e’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.

The Smart Key System standard on the Prius Prime allows you to unlock the driver’s door and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. (Prius Prime Premium/Advanced’s Smart Key System will also allow unlocking the trunk without taking your keys out). The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

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

The Prius Prime Premium/Advanced 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 500e doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

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

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 500e doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Prius Prime has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The 500e doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

For greater rear passenger comfort, the Prius Prime has standard rear heat vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500e doesn’t offer rear vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Prius Prime has a standard Dynamic 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 500e doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

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 500e 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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