2019 Toyota Rav4 vs. 2019 Fiat 500L

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Rav4 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 Rav4 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 500L doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Rav4 (except LE) offers optional Rear Cross-Traffic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 500L doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Rav4 offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500L doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Rav4’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 500L doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The Rav4 Limited offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The 500L only offers a rear monitor and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the front or sides.

To help make backing safer, the Rav4’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 500L doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

The Rav4 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 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 Rav4 and the 500L have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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, rearview cameras and available blind spot warning systems.

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 Toyota Rav4 is safer than the 500L:

 

Rav4

500L

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

1 cm

14 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

POOR

Femur Force R/L

.8/.8 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

.63/.36

.88/.82

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Rav4 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 167 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500L was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

Toyota’s powertrain warranty covers the Rav4 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.

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Rav4 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 500L.

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 Rav4’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the Rav4’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 500L’s camshaft. If the 500L’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

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 Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 141 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Engine

The Rav4’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 43 more horsepower (203 vs. 160) than the 500L’s 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Toyota Rav4 is faster than the Fiat 500L:

 

Rav4

500L

Zero to 60 MPH

8.1 sec

8.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

22.5 sec

23.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

8.5 sec

9.5 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

88 MPH

86 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Rav4 gets better fuel mileage than the 500L:

 

 

 

MPG

Rav4

 

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

AWD

LE 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

27 city/34 hwy

 

 

2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/33 hwy

500L

 

FWD

1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Toyota Rav4 uses regular unleaded gasoline. The 500L requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The Rav4 has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the 500L (14.5 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Toyota Rav4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the 500L.

Brakes and Stopping

The Rav4 stops shorter than the 500L:

 

Rav4

500L

 

70 to 0 MPH

161 feet

169 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Rav4 has larger standard tires than the 500L (225/65R17 vs. 205/55R16). The Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500L (235/55R19 vs. 225/45R17).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Rav4 LE/XLE has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 500L Pop. The Rav4 XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’s 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the 500L Trekking/Lounge.

The Toyota Rav4’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

For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Rav4 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 500L has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The Rav4 has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Rav4 flat and controlled during cornering. The 500L’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Rav4’s wheelbase is 3.1 inches longer than on the 500L (105.9 inches vs. 102.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Rav4 is 2.8 inches wider in the front and 3.6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 500L.

The Rav4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58% to 42%) than the 500L’s (60% to 40%). This gives the Rav4 more stable handling and braking.

The Rav4 Adventure handles at .84 G’s, while the 500L Lounge pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Rav4 Adventure executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1 seconds quicker than the 500L Lounge (27.5 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.5 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Chassis

The front grille of the Rav4 Adventure/Limited uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The 500L doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Rav4 has 1 inch more front legroom, .5 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 1.1 inches more rear legroom and 1.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500L.

Cargo Capacity

The Rav4 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the 500L with its rear seat up (37.6 vs. 22.4 cubic feet). The Rav4 has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the 500L with its rear seat folded (69.8 vs. 68 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the Rav4 (except LE) offers an optional power cargo door, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button or, optionally on the Rav4 Limited, by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The 500L doesn’t offer a power liftgate.

Towing

The Rav4 has a 1500 lbs. towing capacity. The 500L has no towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The Rav4 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 different drivers share the Rav4 (except LE/XLE/Adventure), the optional memory seats make it convenient. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The 500L doesn’t offer memory seats.

The Smart Key System standard on the Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited allows you to unlock the driver’s door, cargo door 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 (Rav4 Limited’s optional Smart Key System will also allow unlocking the passenger doors without taking your keys out). The Fiat 500L doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’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 Rav4 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 Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited 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 500L doesn’t offer automatic headlights.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Rav4 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500L doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Both the Rav4 and the 500L offer available heated front seats. The Rav4 Limited also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the 500L.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Rav4 Adventure/Limited keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 500L doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Rav4 XLE AWD/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited’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.

Both the Rav4 and the 500L offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Rav4 XLE/XLE Premium/Adventure/Limited has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The 500L doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Rav4 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 500L doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Recommendations

The Toyota Rav4 outsold the Fiat 500L by over 302 to one during 2018.

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

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