2012 Fiat 500
We'll start things off small, with the return of the Fiat brand to America and our first U.S. drive of the 500. So how does this tiny Italian take to American roads? Well except for somewhat lagging throttle response, we found the 500 very entertaining to drive. Much more Mini Cooper than Nissan Cube. Steering is quick with good feedback, which makes darting through traffic fun.
Your darting will be limited though, as the noisy 1.4-liter 4-cylinder puts out only 101-horsepower. So we expected better fuel economy numbers than the estimated 27 city and 34 highway. But we didn't expect the 500 to feel this roomy inside. It's a real packaging miracle. Front passenger room is especially spacious, though things do get tight in the back seat.
We like the overall layout of the interior, with its mix of modern color and design with old world switchgear. Unlike the Mini, the speedometer is right in front of the driver. The exterior look is funky and Euro-chic with a friendly, bulldog nose and a sloping rear hatch. Front and rear overhangs are minimal with 15 and 16-inch wheels available.
"I was most impressed with the back-road manners. Quick, firm shifts, good clutch feel, sporty exhaust car burble and sharp steering with plenty of feedback. It's a twisty road, fun-lovin' commuter car all day long." – Ben Davis
Three distinct models of 500 are available: Pop, Sport, and Lounge, with each having their own unique personality. The Mexican-built Fiat 500 is available now with prices starting at $16,000.
Engine: 1.4-liter 4-cylinder
Price: Starting at $16,000