The 2012 Fiat 500 has earned Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), signifying that it’s scored a rating of “good” (the agency’s highest) in frontal offset and side impact crash testing, as well as in roof strength testing.
Top Safety Pick models must also have sufficient head and neck protection in rear-impact crashes, and must be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). Prior to the 2011 model year, electronic stability control (which can minimize the chance of a rollover accident) wasn't mandated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but all 2012 and later model year cars must be equipped with ESC.
Only 2012 Fiat 500 models built after July of 2011 are Top Safety Pick rated, as earlier models used a different driver’s seat structure. This assembly was changed beginning with August 2011 production to increase occupant safety in both frontal and rear crashes.
The 2012 Fiat 500 joins the 2011 and 2012 Ford Fiesta as the only minicars earning the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation. While you can’t rewrite the laws of physics (and force still equals mass times acceleration), the award is proof that even small and fuel efficient cars can be safe.