2013 FIAT 500 Comfort & Quality

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Comfort & Quality

The 2013 Fiat 500 maxes out its interior space, but the passenger package isn't quite as roomy as a Ford Fiesta--which means all kinds of compromises on whom and what you bring along for the ride.

Take the back seats, for instance. They are very, very close to the front seats. The best daily use is as a parcel shelf, with the rear seatbacks in their lowered position. If you absolutely must, however, the rear seats can, technically, hold two smallish humans. For a short time.

It's small, short, and a bit tight on cargo and passenger space, but the 2013 Fiat 500 still manages to deliver a comfy ride.

If you're more than moderately American in height and girth, you just won't fit in the 500's back seat. It's a space that confines even more than the not-much-larger space in a Ford Fiesta, since there aren't extra doors to fudge the entry and exit. Of course, if you've paid the price for fashion with Italian shoes, squeezing in here will seem less cruel. Briefly.

Behind the rear seats, there's an equally small cargo space. The "500" figured hatch latch opens onto a space that's so compact--just 9.5 cubic feet--and oddly shaped that you're only really equipped for transporting scale models of pyramids and obelisks.

Fortunately, the front seats are significantly more spacious, though there are still compromises for the 500's sub-compact form factor. The seat position places the driver unnaturally high in the cabin, limiting headroom for taller drivers when the optional sunroof or glass roof is equipped. Shoulder, hip, and knee room are also more limited than you'd expect, or than you'd find in the Fiesta.

Once you're used to the 500's cramped cockpit, the colorful trim lightens the mood and the seats earn valuable feel-good points. They're much better shaped and fitted than the barstools in the Fiesta--and the 500 makes the best of cheap headrests by molding the plastic pieces into clever circles. And if you end up using the driver-side armrest from the passenger seat, you won't feel any more crowded than in the average coach-class 757, now, will you?

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