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To maximize occupant safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell 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 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell 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.
Using vehicle speed sensors and seat sensors, smart airbags in the Clarity Fuel Cell deploy with different levels of force or don’t deploy at all to help better protect passengers of all sizes in different collisions. The Clarity Fuel Cell’s side airbags will shut off if a child is leaning against the door. The 500e’s airbags don’t have smart features and will always deploy full force.
The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard Collision Mitigation Braking 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 Clarity Fuel Cell’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 Clarity Fuel Cell has standard HondaLink Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to 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 Clarity Fuel Cell 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 and rearview cameras.
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell weighs 1154 pounds more than the Fiat 500e. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.
There are almost 3 times as many Honda dealers as there are Fiat dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Clarity Fuel Cell’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 16th in reliability. With 103 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 31st.
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s electric motor produces 63 more horsepower (174 vs. 111) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 147) than the 500e’s electric motor.
As tested in Car and Driver the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell is faster than the Fiat 500e:
Clarity Fuel Cell
Zero to 60 MPH
5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start
Passing 50 to 70 MPH
Speed in 1/4 Mile
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s maximum driving range on a full tank of hydrogen is 360 miles, over four times as far as the 500e’s 84-mile range. After it exhausts its hydrogen, the Clarity Fuel Cell can then refuel in minutes, while the 500e has to recharge for 4 hours. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 24 hours.
For better stopping power the Clarity Fuel Cell’s brake rotors are larger than those on the 500e:
For better traction, the Clarity Fuel Cell has larger tires than the 500e (235/45R18 vs. 185/55R15).
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 500e’s standard 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard 18-inch wheels. Only 15-inch wheels are available on the 500e.
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell’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.
For superior ride and handling, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell 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 Clarity Fuel Cell has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Clarity Fuel Cell 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 Clarity Fuel Cell’s wheelbase is 17.7 inches longer than on the 500e (108.3 inches vs. 90.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Clarity Fuel Cell is 6.8 inches wider in the front and 7.5 inches wider in the rear than on the 500e.
The Clarity Fuel Cell handles at .79 G’s, while the 500e pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Clarity Fuel Cell a Mid-size car, while the 500e is rated a Minicompact.
The Clarity Fuel Cell has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500e can only carry 4.
The Clarity Fuel Cell has 30.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500e (102 vs. 71.6).
The Clarity Fuel Cell has .2 inches more front headroom, 1.5 inches more front legroom, 7.8 inches more front hip room, 10.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, 9.1 inches more rear legroom, 13 inches more rear hip room and 10.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500e.
The Clarity Fuel Cell has a much larger trunk than the 500e (11.8 vs. 7 cubic feet).
The Clarity Fuel Cell 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 Clarity Fuel Cell 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.
When two different drivers share the Clarity Fuel Cell, the memory seats make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position. The 500e doesn’t offer memory seats.
The Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard heads-up display that projects speed 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 Clarity Fuel Cell’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The 500e has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.
The Clarity Fuel Cell’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 Clarity Fuel Cell’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 Clarity Fuel Cell’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.
If the windows are left open on the Clarity Fuel Cell the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the 500e can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
Smart Entry standard on the Clarity Fuel Cell allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk 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. The Fiat 500e doesn’t offer an advanced key system.
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The 500e’s power mirror switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. 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 Clarity Fuel Cell 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.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard extendable sun visors. The 500e doesn’t offer extendable visors.
Both the Clarity Fuel Cell and the 500e have standard heated front seats. The Clarity Fuel Cell also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the 500e.
The Clarity Fuel Cell 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.
The Clarity Fuel Cell’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 500e doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.
For greater rear passenger comfort, the Clarity Fuel Cell has standard rear a/c vents to keep rear occupants more comfortable. The 500e doesn’t offer rear vents.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Clarity Fuel Cell has a standard Adaptive 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.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Honda Clarity outsold the Fiat 500 by almost four to one during 2019.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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