2012 Fiat 500: Surviving the Desert
September 15, 2011
I drove the 2012 Fiat 500 on the first leg of our fourth-annual Fuel Sipper Smackdown comparison test. This portion of the trip took us through Death Valley, where temperatures soared past 110 degrees. I'm not much of a cap wearer and I hadn't thought to bring one for this trip. I was going to be cooped up in a car all day and I wasn't driving a convertible, so what was the point? But after a few hours under the Fiat's mesh "sunshade," I was feeling like an ant under a magnifying glass. I reached into my bag and grabbed the first thing that would provide me with shade. This t-shirt wasn't the most elegant solution, but it worked.
Sunroof issues aside, the Fiat 500 was a pleasant car to drive on a road trip. It was not only capable of handling the desert heat, but also of putting up some impressive fuel- economy numbers. The 1.4 liter engine struggled a bit on some of the steeper grades, but it eventually made its way through Death Valley and the rest of the trip.
If I was in the market for a Fiat 500, I'd opt for the convertible with an automatic transmission. I commute in heavy stop and go traffic. And I'd get the convertible. Ironically, the convertible top provides better protection than the sunshade in the coupe.
Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Associate @ 7,850 miles