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SAFETY | 7 out of 10
2013 Fiat 500: four stars frontal impacts and rollover resistance
Not yet rated
The chassis received stiffening and a few extra parts to meet U.S. crash standards, enough so that a 500 that had gone through a 40-mph offset test could easily open and close its doors.
Fiat offers a six-speed manual gearbox in Europe, but chief engineer DiMuro tells us that he was not able to package it in the U.S.-spec 500 without sacrificing a vertical linkage between the horizontal crash-protection beams.
Despite its size, the 2012 Fiat 500 is loaded with safety gear. Stability control and ABS are standard, along with Brake Assist, seven airbags and substantial structural revisions wrought for the U.S. market.
Yes, the 2013 Fiat 500 is very, very small. How it rates for safety remains an open question to industry and federal agencies, but Fiat has gone out of its way to fit in safety technology to ensure the subcompact 500 protects passengers well.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has only partially crash-tested the 2013 Fiat 500, rating it at four stars for frontal crash and rollover resistance, but unrated in side-impact and overall scores. The largely identical 2012 Fiat 500 scored three stars overall, however. The 2013 500c and Abarth have not yet been crash tested by the NHTSA.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2012 Fiat 500 a Top Safety Pick rating, but hasn't yet scored the 2013 model.
Like any modern car, the Fiat 500 offers standard dual front, side and curtain airbags, with the "sometimes Y" addition of a driver knee airbag. The 500 also offers standard anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and a hill-hold device--handy in hilly urban environs.
Things you won't find in the low-cost Fiat 500 are the more advanced safety gadgets, like lane-departure warning or adaptive cruise control. On Lounge models, however, you can add rear parking sensors. For hands-free driving, Bluetooth is also standard on the top models, and an optional extra even on the base 500.
While it's not yet fully crash tested, the 2013 Fiat 500 has the equipment it needs to put buyers at ease.