By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The Fiat 500 heralds the Italian automaker's return to the U.S. market, and so far things seem to be going well. Though many will draw comparisons between the 500 and the Mini Cooper, in truth the two are very different cars. Where the Mini is about performance, the 500 lures buyers with an attractive price and miserly fuel efficiency. Those wanting more power can opt for the 500 Turbo or the high-performance Abarth, while those seeking to pay nothing for gas can opt for the all-electric 500e. Being Italian, the 500 of course comes with a variety of designer trims, colors and equipment, all aimed at helping this small car make a big splash.
The Fiat 500 is hip, happening and a must-have for style-conscious city dwellers. Not as pricey as a Mini Cooper, but far more fun than a Toyota Yaris or Honda Fit, the 500 serves up a big dose of Italian attitude in a little body.
A new 1957 special edition is added, bringing a retro look that defined the original car. Other changes include a new Ivory interior color, new wheels and a revised passenger seat that sits an inch lower to the floor.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Fiat 500 employs a lightweight body to maximize its 101 horsepower, which is a good thing because flat-out speed isn't the 500's strong suit, at least in non-turbocharged...... form. What the 500 does well is deliver a comfortable ride, go-kart-like handling and a sense of style and fun absent in most small cars. From the centered steering to the firm brakes to the smooth shift controls, everything about the 500 looks and feels of quality. The 500's 6-speed automatic is surprisingly efficient and responsive, but we still love the feel of the manual in this car. It just feels more European. Those seeking more power may want to split the difference between the base car and the tautly sprung Abarth model by opting for the 135-horsepower Turbo trim. Or, if distance driving isn't a concern, the 500e's electric motor and battery pack can carry you up to 87 miles on a single charge.
INTELLIGENT POWER CONVERTIBLE TOP
Unlike conventional convertibles, the 500c employs a dual-layer retractable soft top that slides on a track leaving the metal door frames and C-pillars in place. The top can be deployed at speeds up to 60 mph and takes just 15 seconds from start to finish.
Using a USB port hidden in the glove box, the Fiat 500 can upload a variety of information to a memory stick including carbon-dioxide-emissions data and trip information. When plugged into your laptop, the data can be used to help you learn how to drive more efficiently.
The Fiat 500 is roomier up front than you might expect, and just as tight in back as it looks. The interior style lives up to the promise of the quirky but fashionable exterior, and we found the materials, build quality and seat comfort impressive for a car with a starting price around $17,000. As the athlete of the group, the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth offers aggressively bolstered front seats, exclusive red stitching and a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel.Exterior
The 2014 Fiat 500 is a modern interpretation of 1957's tiny, rear-engined original. Although larger than the original, it's still seven inches shorter than today's Mini Cooper. The iconic sloping rear end is a big part of the 500's personality, though it limits rear headroom. For 2014, the Fiat 500 is available in a stretched 4-door model that alleviates many of the coupe's shortcomings. The hatchback offers Pop, Sport, Lounge and Turbo trim levels, while the soft-top 500c comes in Pop and Lounge. The Turbo, Abarth and 500e electric are their own packages. Wheels, fascias and body trim differentiate the models.
The 2014 Fiat 500 and 500c Pop include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 15-inch covered steel wheels, a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, power window/locks/mirrors, Bluetooth, and a 6-speaker audio system with a USB port for portable music players. The range-topping Abarth variant includes a Bose premium audio system, 16-inch alloy wheels, sport-tuned suspension and a leather-wrapped dashboard. Standard safety features include seven airbags, hill-start assist to help prevent vehicle rollback on steep inclines and seemingly all the other advancements we're seeing on new cars in this price range and beyond.
A fully loaded 2014 Fiat 500 Lounge includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, Bose audio system and automatic climate control. The 500 Sport model is differentiated by a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch wheels and a variety of aesthetic touches including red brake calipers and a subtle rear spoiler. The Turbo model adds larger front brakes and more serious suspension tuning to go with its specific 16-inch wheels and identifying trim. The mighty Abarth offers larger 17-inch wheels, 2-tone leather-trimmed seats and your choice of either white or red body side stripes.
The front-wheel-drive 2014 Fiat 500 is motivated by a small but sophisticated 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine using Fiat's patented MultiAir technology, which varies intake-valve timing and lift. Fiat tunes this engine to three power levels: The base hatchback and cabriolet get 101 horsepower (naturally aspirated), the Turbo makes 135 horsepower and the Abarth, also turbocharged, crank out 160 horsepower. The 500e electric is rated for 111 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. Most of the 500s offer the choice of a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, but the turbocharged engines get only the 5-speed manual gearbox. We like the automatic for its extra ratio and responsive shifting though it does cut fuel efficiency by more than 10 percent. The 500e uses a single-speed automatic.
1.4-liter inline-4 (500)
101 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
98 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/40 mpg (manual), 27/34 mpg (automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (500 Turbo)
135 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 mpg
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Abarth)
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 mpg
Permanent magnet electric motor (500e)
147 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 122/108 mpg equivalent
EPA range on a full charge: 87 miles
The 2014 Fiat 500 lineup starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $17,000 for a hatchback Pop and climbs to just over $32,500 for the California-only 500e electric. However, incentives and tax credits can trim that price substantially. These can total as much as $14,000, according to Fiat. The 2014 Mini Cooper Hardtop starts at just over $20,000 and can top $35,000. Fiat includes a Mini-matching 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 3-year/36,000-mile no-cost maintenance package. Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price should reflect real-world transaction prices close to MSRP, so be sure to check them out before you purchase. Five-year projected residual values for the 500 fall considerably short of the Mini's, but remain slightly higher than the Ford Fiesta's.
By gary on Saturday, December 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive!"
Cons: "It is small and not good for more than 2 people"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My choice of the Fiat was initially made because it was a small car that could be towed behind my RV. Since then, the car has completely won me over. I attended the Abarth experience at the Fontana Race Track, and since that day I no longer miss my Harley. This car has true racing capabilities, yet most of the time it can be driven in a sensible manner and achieves great mpg's. It is always a pleasure when I pull into a parking lot and easily find appropriate parking for the small car. The ride is rougher because of the race tuned suspension, and the exhaust noise is a bit much when I want to carry on a conversation. Nevertheless, I have begun to love the little car, and I find my Lexus just sits in the garage. I guess I never grew up; I love the sports car aspects of the Abarth!"
15 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By MjA on Friday, November 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good MPG, Fun, Easy to do your own maintenance"
Cons: "Othe drivers don't like to be behind a Fiat"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It has been almost 2 and half years since purchasing my 2012 Fiat 500 Pop. So far, the capabilities have been impressive and including the value for the money and how easy it is to find parking, due to its small stature. Unlike other small cars that I have driven that felt as if I was riding on top of a noisy beehive when cruising the highway, that is not the case for the Fiat, engine noise is minimal and so is road noise if the surface is smooth. The features of the Fiat are impressive. The last new car I purchased was my wife’s “luxury car” in 2005 without blue tooth, 3.5mm audio jack, tire pressure monitor, a USB port that can be used to charge a phone, manipulate your portable music player with steering wheel mounted controls or plug in a thumb drive to record and monitor the efficiency of your driving habits. That was all included in the base model, no extra options added, and speaking of value, the price I paid for the Fiat new is almost three thousand dollars more than what I have spent in the total repairs and maintenance of my wife’s “luxury automobile” since 2005. Economy is better than predicted by the EPA; my daily commute average has been 38.6 mpg (according to the Eco Dirve data I download on a regular basis by inserting a USB “Thumb-Drive” in to the USB Port in the dash, which can also be used to play music or charge a cell-phone). On a 175-mile road trip to visit family, the Fiat averaged 38.8 miles per gallon and despite the small 1.4-liter engine; I was able to make it up some steep mountains at highway speeds, requiring downshifting into fourth gear when the speed dropped below 70 mph (about 2,900 rpm). There are many things the car can do, get me around comfortably, (I'm 6’1”) when driving by myself, and if necessary I can carry a real person behind me at the expense of some comfort (only two, the Fiat is a four seater). The fun factor with the manual transmission makes this car a joy to drive, I don’t care to go fast in a straight line, but going around corners and down shifting into second gear pulling the car around the corners has been, to put it mildly, fun and assuring that this car is sure footed and nimble. After a couple of years of driving the base Fiat, I can only think of three things that I can say negatively about the car. First, do not plan to win any drag races with the Fiat, unless you are racing against a hybrid or another smaller and less capable car. Secondly, road noise is pervasive on rough roads. Finally, my last complaint are the other drivers who do not like to be passed by a Fiat (even when I’m doing the speed limit!) and will speed up to pass you. I say to them “don’t be crass, this little capable car can really go this fast.”"
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By leiden on Thursday, November 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Everything. This is a great car."
Cons: "None, really."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It's zippy, it's reliable, and I can park ANYWHERE. The design is spectacular, everything is within reach and easily visible. Very fuel efficient, as well. I haven't had any issues with this car, despite others telling me it's a bad car or I shouldn't have bought it. I couldn't be happier. It's really fun to drive, easy to shift, and steering is a charm. It handles very well. There are only a couple things I would change, and those are very minor. i would have the windshield wipers be more of a variable speed, and I would add a mirror to the passenger visor. That's really it. It's tiny, so the noise is louder than other cars, but it's also lighter. So there is the tradeoff. If you like small cars and being able to park anywhere, definitely consider this Fiat."
9 people out of 18 found this review helpful