2012 FIAT 500 Review

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6.8
on a scale of 1 to 10
Styling
7.0
Expert Rating
Performance
6.0
Expert Rating
Comfort & Quality
6.0
Expert Rating
Safety
7.0
Expert Rating
Features
8.0
Expert Rating
Fuel Economy
8.0
Expert Rating
2017
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2012
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Best Car to Buy Nominee

The Car Connection Expert Review

The 2012 Fiat 500 pays big dividends for going small--in expressive styling and even in driving verve.

Americans bring muscle, the Germans engineering might, and the Asian brands, reliability. So...what's left for the Italians to bring back to the U.S. car party?

If you can indulge us one more stereotype, we'll go with style. Italian automakers may never have been known for world-class quality, or for brilliant marketing, but the eye for a finely turned turn signal, or a pure side-glass silhouette? That's all Italian, all the time from Ferrari right down to this pert little hatchback with the weight of Fiat's rebirth all on its very small back. Va bene? Va bene.

The 2012 Fiat 500 is out in the wild now, streaming out of more than a hundred new Fiat showrooms across the country, as Chrysler and Fiat firm up their alliance and find new, inventive ways to get high-gas-mileage cars to America quickly. The 500's been on sale for years in Europe; now it's been engineered to meet U.S. safety and marketing standards, and to be built in a North American plant, too.

It could hardly have arrived at a better time. Gas prices are over $3 a gallon, and the 500's nearly 40-mpg fuel economy gives it at least one convincing argument to park itself in the garages of small-car buyers everywhere. But unlike other subcompact buyers with big EPA numbers, the 500 has a heady dose of style, from its heritage-induced proportions to the mix-and-match color play of its pint-sized interior.

The hurdles it faces are pretty big ones, for a car so tiny, and for a brand that left the American market more than 20 years ago with a hideous reputation for build quality and reliability. The 500 is almost a two-seater, by American standards, and a small one at that. It's engaging to drive, if you're used to the subcompact drudgery of the Yaris or the Fit or the Aveo. And it comes packaged with the features that have become essential in our daily lives--stuff like Bluetooth and aux jacks.

No one can predict if this truly is the tide-turning moment for small cars in the States. And the 500 will thrive or not, based on a momentous swing in drivers' tastes.

But if they have great taste, the Fiat 500 will stand out from the likes of the Aveo and Yaris, even the Fiesta. It's a small piece of art, even more inside than out--with only a T.J. Maxx pricetag keeping it out of an industrial-design museum.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

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May 31, 2016
2012 FIAT 500 2-Door Convertible Pop

My Dream Car

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I love everything about my Fiat 500c Pop. It is small enough for me and and my little dog too. I have gone on road trips to Miami, New Orleans, and Arkansas. I love the fact that it tells me everything if... + More »
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May 28, 2015
2012 FIAT 500 2-Door HB Pop

The perfect match!

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I am in love with this car. I haven't had her for very long but I know that it's the perfect match for me. I am also looking forward to getting great gas millage. I am so excited to have my new FIAT!
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May 7, 2015
2012 FIAT 500 2-Door HB Lounge

FIAT 500, 'F' is for fun!

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For a little car by many measures my FIAT 500 has responded as well as any larger vehicle I've owned. I have been impressed with the responsiveness of driving in urban and highway conditions and never felt... + More »
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