2020 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2019 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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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 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive offers an available collision warning system without the automated brake feature that would prevent or reduce the collision if the driver fails to react.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

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

The Prius Prime Limited’s blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.

To help make backing safer, the Prius Prime Limited’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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The Prius Prime 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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive 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 and rearview cameras.

The Toyota Prius Prime weighs 982 to 1012 pounds more than the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

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 88 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The ForTwo Electric Drive has not been fully tested, yet.


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

The Prius Prime’s corrosion warranty is 1 year and unlimited miles longer than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s (5/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

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. Smart doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the ForTwo Electric Drive.

There are almost 48 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Smart dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Prius Prime’s warranty.


The Prius Prime’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 41 more horsepower (121 vs. 80) than the ForTwo Electric Drive’s electric motor.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe (145 city/121 hwy vs. 124 city/94 hwy MPGe). The Prius Prime running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the ForTwo Electric Drive Cabriolet (145 city/121 hwy vs. 112 city/91 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 ForTwo Electric Drive’s range is only 58 miles, after which the minimum recharge time is 3 hours. A full recharge at a conventional charging station can take up to 16 hours and 30 minutes.

Brakes and Stopping

The Toyota Prius Prime has standard four-wheel disc brakes for better stopping power and improved directional control in poor weather. Only rear drums come on the ForTwo Electric Drive. Drums can heat up and make stops longer, especially with antilock brakes that work much harder than conventional brakes.

In an emergency stopping situation, many drivers don’t press the brakes with enough force to stop the vehicle in the shortest distance. The Prius Prime has a standard brake assist system to detect emergency braking situations (by how hard and how quickly the brake pedal is pressed) and then automatically apply maximum braking immediately in order to help prevent a collision. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a brake assist feature.

The Prius Prime stops shorter than the ForTwo Electric Drive:



60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

131 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Prius Prime has larger tires than the ForTwo Electric Drive (195/65R15 vs. 165/65R15). The Prius Prime’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ForTwo Electric Drive (195/65R15 vs. 185/50R16).

The Toyota Prius Prime’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 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 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive 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 ForTwo Electric Drive’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Prius Prime’s wheelbase is 32.6 inches longer than on the ForTwo Electric Drive (106.3 inches vs. 73.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Prius Prime is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 4.3 inches wider in the rear than on the ForTwo Electric Drive.

The Prius Prime LE handles at .79 G’s, while the ForTwo Electric Drive Passion Coupe pulls only .71 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.


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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Prius Prime has standard seating for 5 passengers; the ForTwo Electric Drive can only carry 2.

The Prius Prime has 46.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ForTwo Electric Drive (91.5 vs. 45.4).

The Prius Prime has 2 inches more front legroom, 8.3 inches more front hip room and 6.2 inches more front shoulder room than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger trunk than the ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe (19.8 vs. 9.2 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 ForTwo Electric Drive Coupe’s liftover is 28.7 inches. The ForTwo Electric Drive Cabriolet’s liftover is 29.2 inches.


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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

The Prius Prime Limited 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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Prius Prime’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children from operating them. Smart does not offer a locking feature on the ForTwo Electric Drive’s standard power windows.

The Prius Prime’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The ForTwo Electric Drive’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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 XLE/Limited’s Smart Key System will also allow unlocking the trunk without taking your keys out). The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The Prius Prime’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Smart charges extra for heated mirrors on the ForTwo Electric Drive.

The Prius Prime Limited’s standard rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The Prius Prime Limited’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 ForTwo Electric Drive doesn’t offer an automated parking system.


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

The Toyota Prius outsold the Smart ForTwo by almost 69 to one during 2018.

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

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