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To maximize occupant safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Prius 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 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 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.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Prius LE/XLE/Limited has standard Parking Support Brake that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The 500e doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The Prius offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The 500e doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.
The Prius’ 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 LE/XLE/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 500e doesn’t offer a front parking aid.
To help make backing safer, the Prius LE/XLE/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 500e doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
The Prius’ 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 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 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 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 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 101 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 500e has not been tested, yet.
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Prius 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’ 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 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.
The Prius’ 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 10 more horsepower (121 vs. 111) than the 500e’s electric motor.
The Prius’ maximum EPA estimated driving range on a full tank of fuel is 655.4 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.
For better traction, the Prius has larger standard tires than the 500e (195/65R15 vs. 185/55R15). The Prius XLE/Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 500e (215/45R17 vs. 185/55R15).
The Prius XLE/Limited’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 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Prius XLE/Limited has standard 17-inch wheels. The 500e’s largest wheels are only 15-inches.
The Toyota Prius’ 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.
The Prius LE FWD has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 500e; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.
For superior ride and handling, the Toyota Prius 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 has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the Prius 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’ wheelbase is 15.7 inches longer than on the 500e (106.3 inches vs. 90.6 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Prius is 4.4 inches wider in the front and 5.2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 500e.
The Prius L Eco handles at .84 G’s, while the 500e pulls only .77 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
The design of the Toyota Prius amounts to more than styling. The Prius has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .24 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 get better fuel mileage.
Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Prius a Mid-size car, while the 500e is rated a Minicompact.
The Prius has standard seating for 5 passengers; the 500e can only carry 4.
The Prius has 21.5 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 500e (93.1 vs. 71.6).
The Prius has .5 inches more front headroom, 1.6 inches more front legroom, 5.6 inches more front hip room, 5.6 inches more front shoulder room, 1.9 inches more rear headroom, 5.8 inches more rear legroom, 9.3 inches more rear hip room and 6.6 inches more rear shoulder room than the 500e.
A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Prius easier. The Prius’ trunk lift-over height is 26.5 inches, while the 500e’s liftover is 28.1 inches.
To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the Prius 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 (except L/LE) offers an available heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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’ 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’ 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’ 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 Prius 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the 500e can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Smart Key System standard on the Prius 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 XLE/Limited’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 XLE/Limited’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.
To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Prius has a standard rear fixed intermittent wiper with a full on position. The rear wiper standard on the 500e only has an intermittent setting, so in a hard rain visibility isn’t as good.
The Prius XLE/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 500e doesn’t offer automatic headlights.
While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the Prius detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The 500e doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.
To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Prius (except L/LE) offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The 500e doesn’t offer cornering lights.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the Prius has standard extendable sun visors. The 500e doesn’t offer extendable visors.
On extremely cold winter days, the Prius XLE/Limited’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 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 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 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 LE/XLE/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 500e doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
Consumer Reports® chose the Toyota Prius as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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