With only 101 hp, the 500 is one of the slowest cars we've tested (0-60 in 10.8 sec). But its 1.4-liter MultiAir 4-cylinder is smooth, and the 5-speed manual gearbox has positive, if long, throws. We averaged 30.3 mpg; EPA rating is 30/38.
The 500 Sport, which has stiffer suspension and grippier tires, is agile to the tune of 68.4 mph through the slalom. Well-weighted electric steering helps, but the 500 is nervous and even darty on straight highways. The brakes are firm and sure.
The 500's short wheelbase and relatively stiff suspension give a pretty choppy ride, whether on two-lane roads or highways; firm but comfortable front sport seats lessen the effect.
Even though the 500's little four-cylinder is smooth, it still makes a fair amount of racket at high revs. Wind noise is minor, even at elevated speeds. Tires offer a minimum of thumping over concrete slabs, despite performance intent.
Oddities: the tachometer-within-the-speedometer instrument panel; complete lack of knobs in cabin; power window buttons on opposite sides of shifter. The driving position may be too high for some, but the shifter falls readily to hand.
The 500's high driving position gives an excellent view out the front and sides, aided by huge door windows. But rear three-quarter vision is poor, especially on the driver side, due to the car's huge B-pillars.
Seat Access & Space
Headroom is an issue, front and rear. The driver's seat is height-adjustable, but cannot be positioned low enough for most. Easy to get in and out of front seats; rear's more difficult, but front seat does return to its original position.
Cargo & Storage
Narrow but long door pockets; no center armrest storage bin; cupholders have anti-tip knobs. Luggage capacity is minimal, but good for such a small car, at 9.5 cu ft. Hatchback and fold-down rear seats make it easy to haul large items.
There are many hard-touch plastic surfaces and the steering wheel stalks feel cheap, although the sport seats and steering wheel exude quality. We did find a few large exterior panel gaps, but in general the 500 feels reasonably well made.