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  • 3/4 Front Glamour 2017 FIAT 500
  • 90 Degree Profile 2017 FIAT 500
  • Rear Profile  2017 FIAT 500
  • 3/4 Rear Glamour  2017 FIAT 500
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Expert's Rating

4.1Excellent | Details

MPG

30 City / 36 Highway
Contributing Editor -

Evolved from a lilliputian, Italian-built model that captured the heart of many a European-car devotee back in the late 1950s, the Fiat 500 might be dubbed a micro-size hatchback with rich Italian flavor. Fiat Chrysler revived the Fiat 500 (Cinqucento) for 2012, giving it retro-exotic looks and an abundance of equipment choices.

With six trim levels to choose from, configuring the 500 to meet personal needs and desires was quite easy, so long as a roomy backseat wasn't essential. Both Coupe and Cabrio (sliding fabric roof) body styles remain available, but three of the previous trim levels have been dropped. So has the lower-powered turbo engine.

In either body style, the back seat falls well short on roominess. More than most small cars, the Fiat 500 has drawn intense opinions: many folks consider the Italian design irresistibly cute and charming, while others fail to see the appeal.

What's New for 2017

FiatChrysler has simplified the 500 lineup, shrinking to three trim levels and two engine possibilities. Prices have been cut substantially. Options no longer are offered in Collections, but may be selected individually. All trim levels are available in the Cabrio body style for $1,495 more than the solid-roof coupe. Each Fiat 500 gets a Uconnect 5.0 system with 5-inch touchscreen audio, Bluetooth, and voice commands. Rear parking assist is now standard on Abarth models, which ride on new 16-inch forged aluminum Hyper Black wheels.

FIAT 500

Choosing Your FIAT 500

Each Fiat 500 model contains a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but with or without turbocharging.

  • In Pop and Lounge models, the non-turbo engine is rated at 101 horsepower, mated to a standard five-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic transmission.
  • A turbocharged, twin-intercooled version goes into the race-inspired Abarth, which comes across as remarkably energetic. With a manual gearbox, the Abarth engine develops 160 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque; the engine in automatic-equipped Abarth models produces 157 horsepower and 183 pound-feet.

Fuel economy is impressive, as expected in a micro-size car—at least with the non-turbo engine and manual shift. With the manual gearbox, a Pop or Lounge model gets an estimate of 31 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway (34 mpg combined). The automatic transmission drops the figures to 27/33 mpg (city/highway). With manual shift, the potent Abarth earns an EPA estimate of 28/33 mpg (city/highway), dipping to 24/32 mpg with automatic.

In Cabrios, the fabric top is power-operated, retracting all the way to the rear spoiler or only to a midway position. When folded all the way open, the roof tucks behind the backseat head restraints.

The Fiat 500 is now available in three trim levels:

Pop

Powered by the non-turbo 1.4-liter engine and priced at $15,990 (destination included) in coupe form, the base model carries all the expected equipment for this microcar class, including air conditioning and power windows/locks. The Pop offers several surprises, too, such as seven airbags, standard heated power mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio/cruise controls, plus Bluetooth phone and streaming audio with voice command. Painted aluminum wheels hold 15-inch tires.

An optional Sport Appearance Package includes sport fascias, side ground-effects components, a sport spoiler, 16-inch wheels, and black-trimmed lights.

Lounge

Equipped like the Pop in terms of performance, the Lounge edition contains an assortment of luxury upgrades including leather-trimmed front bucket seats, a fixed glass roof, automatic climate control, satellite radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, a 7-inch TFT display screen, polished aluminum 15-inch wheels, and chrome exterior trim (including mirrors). Pricing begins at $19,930.

Abarth

Inevitably drawing the most attention, the hot Abarth variant contains Fiat’s delightful 160-horsepower MultiAir turbocharged engine. Compared to a regular Fiat 500, ride height is lowered, brakes are bigger, and tires are wider. In addition to aggressive styling touches throughout, Abarth gets the firmest suspension tuning in the Fiat 500 lineup, along with Abarth-tuned brakes. A specially-tuned six-speed automatic transmission can replace the standard five-speed manual gearbox. Standard wheels are 16-inch cast aluminum, but you can get three-season performance tires on 17-inch forged aluminum wheels. An Abarth with manual shift starts at $20,990.

All three trim levels can be fitted with the optional automatic transmission, as well as Beats Audio premium sound, navigation, and a sunroof. Rear parking sensors also are available, but a rearview camera is unfortunately absent.

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CarsDirect Tip

From the start, FiatChrysler has touted the personalization possibilities of the Fiat 500. For many buyers, the standard 101-horsepower engine fails to deliver sufficient power, especially when equipped with the automatic transmission. For others, the nimble Fiat 500 is fun to drive regardless of engine. In fact, the reduced power may even be seen as a welcome challenge, especially with manual shift. Then again, the 160-horsepower Abarth is awfully easy to enjoy. A brief test drive should clearly tell you whether to upgrade. An Abarth could be an even more tempting choice, now that the price has been reduced by $2,580.

Fiat 500

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