2012 FIAT 500 Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 FIAT 500 Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
FIAT 500 Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 1.4 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 101 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 27/34 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 FIAT 500

  • We'll have to wait and see about its reliability, but the 2012 Fiat 500 is yet another stylish subcompact that proves that small can be cool.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Adorable styling; Sport and Abarth models' capable handling; excellent fuel economy with manual transmission; surprisingly spacious for two people.

  • Cons

    Cramped front headroom with sunroof; lackluster acceleration; disappointing fuel economy with automatic; convertible's poor top-down visibility; wait-and-see reliability.

  • What's New for 2012

    The all-new 2012 Fiat 500 ushers in the return of the Fiat brand to North America.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews


4 of 4 people found this review helpful

500 lounge, with every option

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

car is fun to drive, gets really good mileage, steering tie rod end was loose after 30,000km, replaced under warranty. buy this car only for the fun and new factor, definitely a chick's car, but i see too many old italian guys driving it......



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Fiat 500 lounge

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

Bought my Fiat 500 Lounge loaded -4 months ago and love it! Everything is very easy to read/use. Lots of attention to details like digital mileage read out mpg,love the heated seats, Sirrus radio free first year, nice leather, Great turn ratio, easy to park, drive. Good recovery on wet freeway roads-experienced this! No problems, 4 years maintenance of everything, 8K oil changes. Gettting 31mpg average. Smooth ride for such a small car, quiet unless you open moonroof. Downsides:need tinting (Texas!)sun shade not solid, hard to get into backseat. Need "Sport" button for quick acceleration. 23,400K Great customer service. Very happy with purchase. Blows the competition on away!



19 of 48 people found this review helpful

Don't be fooled ... check

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

I bought my 2012 Fiat 500 Lounge in May 2011 and traded it in in July 2011. I continued to have problems with the vehicle since my purchase. Lemon? The service manager says it would take up to a year before it would even qualify as a lemon. I had 8 problems to be resolved at my first visit with the Fiat mechanic. Only one was resolved - the clicking noise on the driver door whenever opening. Apparently a loose screw. The other seven? The Fiat mechanic says for all seven, "Normal Condition. No Fix." The worst of the seven was being thrown around in a freeway lane, and not because of trucks or wind.



18 of 20 people found this review helpful

Wow--exceeded all expectations

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

We have the 500 Lounge; the retro interior is great. Very comfortable seats. The sport driving option changes the entire driving dynamic on curving & hilly back roads. For a small wheel base car, the ride, handle and power is superior. It is surprisingly very stably at freeway speeds.



14 of 14 people found this review helpful

You have to drive this

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

My first impression was to laugh at this car, it was tiny and looked 'different'. I never thought that I would Love driving it! The 6-speed Italian made tip-tronic automatic is a brilliant transmission! Shifts when you want it to & gives you a great power band. It's 101hp, so your not going to win any drag races... but you can throw this car into any corner, on ramp or off ramp almost at any speed and it will just go exactly where you point it! I was baffled by how amazing this car handled! In the sport mode, you will notice a difference in throttle response, shift points and steering feel. The Bose radio is amazing, the overall quality of the car is unparrelled in this price range!



8 of 32 people found this review helpful

Try it ,you'll like it

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Vehicle: 2012 FIAT 500 Lounge 2dr Hatchback (1.4L 4cyl 5M)

just got through driving the sport version and it was pretty good. the driving position was more comfortable for my 6'2" frame that either the corolla or fit and had a softer feel to the interior. the sport is , sporty ,with painted brakes,ground effect panals and bigger wheels. it handled so cal freeways, and it's big trucks ,with no problem and with 4 adults aboard it got around just fine. really, go drive one.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 27
  • cty
/
  • 34
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 FIAT 500 Review

What's New for 2012

The all-new 2012 Fiat 500 ushers in the return of the Fiat brand to North America.

Introduction

There was once a car so small it made the Mini seem like a Big. That car was the Fiat 500, or Cinquecento en Italiano, and it left such an indelible impression during its 18-year lifespan that Fiat performed a Mini-like resurrection to it three years ago. Now, with Fiat purchasing Chrysler last year, the 500 was chosen to be the model that reintroduces the Fiat brand to North America.

While the original 500 was the size of a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, the 2012 Fiat 500 looks far more like a regular car -- albeit a tiny one. Compared to a 2012 Mini Cooper, it is 7 inches shorter in overall length and 2 inches narrower. However, it is also more than 4 inches taller, allowing for an elevated seating position that not only increases visibility but creates more interior legroom.

Should you want some sun, the 500C convertible (a.k.a. Cabrio) may be to your liking. It maintains the 500's side roof structure, but the center portion is replaced by a power-sliding cloth piece that stacks atop the flip-up trunk. Imagine a cross between a Porsche 911 Targa and an automatic pool cover. The upside is reduced wind and the ability to lower the roof at speeds up to 60 mph -- the downside is horrible rear visibility with the roof lowered.

At the start of this model year there was just one engine offered: a 1.4-liter 101-horsepower four-cylinder attached to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic. No, that doesn't sound like a lot of power (and it isn't), but at only 2,350 pounds, the Fiat weighs 218 pounds less than the 121-hp base Cooper, which manages to be reasonably sprightly. Those looking for more mechanical joy in their little Italian should consider the hot-rod 500 Abarth, which debuted later in the model year. Wielding a 160-hp turbocharged engine, a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes and sport seats, the 500 Abarth has the goods to give the Cooper S competition a good run.

Like the Mini Cooper, the 2012 Fiat 500 promises lots of character and personalization in a price category not usually known for those traits. It's also competitively equipped, with a base 500 listing for about four grand less than a base Mini Cooper hatchback, and more practical than choices like the 2012 Scion iQ and 2012 Smart Fortwo. While you might want to check out more traditional choices like the 2012 Ford Fiesta, 2012 Honda Fit, 2012 Hyundai Accent and 2012 Mazda 2 as they offer more room for similar money, the Fiat 500 is a solid pick for a (very) small car with lots of personality.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Fiat 500 is a two-door subcompact hatchback available as a hardtop or 500C convertible. Both body styles are available in Pop and Lounge trim levels, while the hatchback adds a Sport midgrade trim.

Standard equipment on the 500 Pop includes 15-inch steel wheels and chrome-trimmed wheel covers, keyless entry, full power accessories, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-only steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The Convenience package (standard on the 500C) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Fiat's Blue&Me Bluetooth phone connectivity and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Bose Premium Audio package adds satellite radio along with an upgraded six-speaker system and subwoofer.

The Fiat 500 Sport gains 16-inch alloy wheels, firmer suspension tuning, retuned steering, slightly different styling, a roof spoiler, foglamps, sport seats, cloth/vinyl sport upholstery and the Pop's two optional packages. Satellite radio is a separate option, however. The Safety & Convenience package (automatic transmission required) includes automatic climate control, a compact spare tire and heated front seats.

The 500 Lounge reverts to the Pop's mechanical tuning and includes its optional packages as well. Also included are 15-inch alloy wheels, exterior chrome accents, foglamps, a fixed glass roof (hatchback only) and upgraded cloth upholstery. The Convenience Group adds rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and heated front seats. The Luxury package adds leather upholstery and upgraded trim. A sunroof and an integrated TomTom navigation system are optional on both the Sport and the Lounge. Dealer-installed accessories like interior ambient lighting and exterior graphics are also available.

The 500 Abarth is for the most part equipped similarly to the Sport but ups performance with a turbocharged engine, an electronic limited-slip differential, adjustable stability control, firmer suspension calibration, quicker steering and a tuned exhaust. The Abarth also has the expected exterior and interior tweaks, including unique front and rear fascias, Abarth graphics/emblems, aggressively bolstered sport seats, a sport steering wheel and red accent stitching throughout the cockpit. Options essentially mirror those of the Sport, as leather seating and a navigation system are among the Abarth's available features.

Powertrains and Performance

Apart from the Abarth, all Fiat 500s are powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 101 hp and 98 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the Pop and the Sport. A six-speed automatic is standard on the Lounge and optional on the other trims.

In Edmunds performance testing, a manual-equipped Fiat 500 Sport went from zero to 60 mph in 10.5 seconds with the manual transmission -- about 1.5 seconds slower than a base Mini. An automatic-equipped 500C hit 60 mph in a rather slow 12.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at an excellent 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway and 33 mpg combined with the manual transmission. This drops to 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway with the automatic, which is still thrifty, but worse than almost every competitor.

The 500 Abarth is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four that makes 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual is the sole transmission offered. In Edmunds testing, the Abarth sprinted to 60 mph in a quick 7.1 seconds.

Safety

The 2012 Fiat 500 comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, a driver knee airbag, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a 500 Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in an impressively short 115 feet. Oddly enough, the 500 Abarth took longer at 123 feet (though in fairness that was on a slightly damp test day) while a 500C Lounge stopped in a still solid 124 feet.

In government crash tests, the 500 received three (out of five) stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for overall frontal protection and a disappointing two stars for overall side protection. However, it should be noted that side protection for the driver was five stars -- it was the rear side rating of two stars that dragged down the overall score.

Interior Design and Special Features

While the Fiat 500's retro styling screams "Mini fighter," its interior raises the decibels even further. It doesn't possess as many customization options and accessories as its British archrival, but the 500 does offer snazzy two-tone color schemes and plenty of neat little design cues. It also has a more straightforward control layout than the form-over-function Mini. However, the available "Blue & Me" voice-activated iPod control is practically unusable, leaving you to use the standard auxiliary jack.

As for interior quality, the Fiat is not quite up to the Mini's level. There are more hard surfaces, but compared to other cars in its modest price range, they are pleasingly textured and generally higher in quality.

Other than the Smart Fortwo, the Fiat 500 is the smallest car sold in the United States. Nonetheless, the high-mounted front seats allow for an impressive amount of legroom even for tall drivers. Sadly, however, those same tall drivers will find their heads grazing the headliner should they get a car with the available sunroof. Headroom is always tight in the backseat, as is legroom. Unlike most other convertibles, the 500C does not suffer diminished interior space. Rearward visibility with the top fully retracted is poor, however.

Behind the hatchback's backseat you'll find 9.5 cubic feet of luggage space, considerably more than what's offered by the Mini. Lower the backseat in the hatchback and although the load floor isn't completely flat, you'll have 30.2 cubic feet of space available, or about 25 percent more than you'll get in a Cooper hatchback.

Driving Impressions

It may be one of the slowest cars on sale, but the non-Abarth Fiat 500 is willing and eager to pull its weight (especially with the easy-to-drive manual transmission), and exhibits more pleasing noises than other underpowered subcompacts. The steering is rather devoid of feel and numb on center, but press the Sport button on the dash and the 500's steering firms up pleasingly. This is especially true for the 500 Sport, which we think is the model to get given its more responsive handling and ride quality that still betters a Mini Cooper's.

A burbling, snarling exhaust note and a slick gearbox add to the fun of blasting around in the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. Its turbocharged engine's robust power band translates into plenty of usable oomph in the real world. Although a 6th gear would be nice, powering past freeway dawdlers is a breeze -- step into it and the Abarth scoots past. Driven briskly on a winding road, the Abarth takes the corners eagerly, aided by its quick steering and sticky tires. But when pushed harder, it's not as buttoned-down and composed as a Cooper, as it tends to bob around a bit during quick transitions over undulating pavement. As with the other 500 models, however, it also provides a more compliant ride than its archrival.

Talk About The 2012 500

Read more about the 2012 FIAT 500

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