Vehicle layout: 1.4-liter inline 4 (101 hp), 6-speed automatic, FWD
MSRP base price: $15,990 (as tested: $19,120)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 27/33/29
Some cars put a smile on your face when they take off like a startled deer as you punch the throttle. Some bring a smile when you dive into a corner and they stick to the pavement like a slot car. And the Fiat 500? This cutie will make you smile by just looking at it—especially if it’s painted Spitfire-Orange or one of the other sunny colors in Fiat’s palette.
The “cinquecento” (500 in Italian) is the modern rendition of the affordable, little car that put Italians back on the road after the devastation of World War II. Though larger than the original, today’s 500 is still small. However, providing they’re not too portly, adults can ride in the rear seat without need of a chiropractic adjustment afterward. And the trunk can accommodate a couple of airline carry-on bags without folding down the rear seat backs.
To be clear, the 500 is no sports car. The steering is numb, acceleration is merely adequate, and the little tires don’t provide a lot of grip. But it’s a great urban vehicle.
It turns almost in its own length, the ride is comfy, and outward visibility is excellent. Moreover, the controls couldn’t be simpler to use, and you could probably park three 500s in your garage.
Maybe best of all, it doesn’t cost much, even with a few goodies like navigation. And if you’re concerned about Fiat’s “Fix It Again, Tony” reputation, know that it comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty.
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 4 stars overall. IIHS: good except for small overlap front (poor)
Spare tire: Tire-inflator kit
Final assembly: Mexico
Photographs courtesy of FCA US LLC.
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