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 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."
By gosslu on Monday, November 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,700overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "Horrible quality that ruins the fun"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Here's my story: I just graduated from college and got a nice job, and I wanted a nice car to reward myself after 4 long and hard years in college. I thought a Fiat 500 Abarth was perfect - I don't need a ton of space, I wanted a car that was fuel efficient and fun. So I bought a 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth - fully loaded - in June 2014. And it is fuel efficient and fun. By the end of July I noticed the side skirts were coming unglued and there was a funky noise in the door when I was driving, and when I shut the door with the window partially open. I took to the dealership - fixed! Not quite, the door still made noise when I was driving, the window started ticking, the dealership still had to order and install the side skirts, also new noises developed in the rear of the car, the sunroof, and the dash. I took a few weeks after that first repair - when the side skirts were ready to be installed - and mentioned the new noises along with the stuff that needed to be fixed a second time. They said it was fixed, and it was for about 10 miles - then all the problems reappeared. The new side skirts were coming un-glued, the noises in the door and window were back, noises in the rear of the car, noises in the sunroof, and now water in the taillights - yay! Took it back to the dealership, they found that the rear seat frame was crooked (takes care of the noise coming from the rear), the taillights were replaced, they used foam tape to fix the noise in the dash, the screws that held the window were loose, the glass was replaced a second time, the side skirts were re-glued, the sunroof was re-aligned, and they found that the water shield inside the door was missing! They took 16 days to fix (got to drive a nice rental that smelled like a garbage truck), and I picked it up last week. Now the taillights still have moisture in them, there is a new noise coming from the a-pillar (yay!), and the original noise from when I shut the door is back. Please, please, please go buy yourself a Toyota or something else with quality. You may be bored, but you won't have $30,000 of regret in your garage."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Davecm203 on Sunday, November 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, good gas mileage, personality, style"
Cons: "Could be better MPG's highway, needs 6th gear."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I was tired of the expense of sports cars and wanted something with personality if I was going to get an economy car. My wife hated the Abarth and I hated the seats in it. The naturally asperated models had too little horsepower. The 500T was brand new and they just got their first two on the lot. The only option I don't have on it is a sunroof. I love the car! I get between 28 and 30 mpg in the city and in the low 30's on the highway (although the mid 30's can be achieved if you don't mind staying around 65). The car is surprisingly comfortable, the Beats audio sounds good, and it is a blast to drive. You can buy other cars cheaper, but none have the personality of the FIAT. Also, you will get lots of questions about it and lots of lookers. Especially with me being 6'2", 230 lbs. The Abarth is known for it's exhaust, but the Turbo has a great sounding exhaust also. It is aggressive without being as loud as the Abarth. The only complaints I have are that I wish it had a limited slip differential because it is easy to make the traction control flash when given gas while cornering somewhat aggressively (inside wheel wants to spin), that it could stream music via Bluetooth (fixed for 2015), and I wish it had a telescoping steering wheel, and the factory navigation is such an after thought (and not worth the extra cost). Otherwise I love it and it is one of my most favorite cars I've owned. And that is coming from a string of cars that cost twice as much. Oh, the 5 speed is fine for around town, but seems a bit low for highway. And I still look for 6th occasionally after 27,000 miles. Oh, and we had heavy snow (for NC) and the car went everywhere I wanted it to without any problems. Even around stuck cars."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful