March 30, 2012
This is the Fiat 500's interior.
March 30, 2012
This is the driver seat-height adjustor lever that Magrath broke the first month we had the Fiat 500. Or, actually, this is the replacement lever.
Near as I can tell, our experience with this car wouldn't have been any different if we'd left the broken lever as is, because the lever is useless for adjusting the height of the seat.
March 16, 2012
This is a very good likeness to the rear three-quarter view I have when driving the Fiat 500, at least on the driver's side. That's one cumbersome blind spot, to say the least. Certainly not what you want to deal with when making the type of quick lane changes that are required while commuting on L.A.'s overcrowded highways. Or anywhere, really.
I think part of the problem is that I have shorter-than-average legs, so the driver's seat is fairly far forward. Because of that, I basically can't see anything out of the rear-seat side window at all.
In sum, what do I have the best view of? The B-pillar.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,682 miles.
March 13, 2012
Caroline used one word to describe driving our just-visiting 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth. I have a similar word for the interior surfaces: Ooooh.
The "nero/rosso" leather surfaces are wickedly contrasty without being garish (unlike the execution I saw in a 2011 BMW 328i. Even the saleswoman said it evoked a bordello).
I also like the red accent stitching. All in all, It's a nice step up from our workaday 500. Unfortunately, as kitted out, this is a $27,000 car.
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor
March 12, 2012
Four simple knobs: that's what our 2012 Fiat 500 brings to the HVAC party. At first I found it odd that the little Fiats aren't level with the horizon, as the fan speed numbers and airflow icons are, but I've gotten over it. I'll take classic rotary controls every time.
But I can't help seeing an "ouchless" Band-Aid bandage, complete with air holes in the wound area. Maybe now your perception will be altered forever, too. You're welcome a lot.
In actual fact it's either the microphone for the Bluetooth handsfree phone hookup (possible) or an air sampling port for the optional automatic climate control system that our 500 doesn't have (probable.) I know I'm sticking my neck out by saying this, but the manual is mum on the subject.
Rip it off and give it some air, already. No, not slow. Do it fast. It hurts less that way.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,430 miles
March 09, 2012
I hadn't been in the 500 for awhile, and started missing it ever since that Super Bowl commercial. I vowed I'd grab the keys at the next opportunity. I remember not liking it much the first time and needed to remember why. I recently signed it out for an evening, but before calling it a day, I drove Jacquot to retrieve the Camry from service.
Josh mocked my initial attempts to praise the half-pint, but then I saw the futility. Where's my seat recliner? Left, lean, look, reach. Huh? Oh, right. It's on the inboard side of the seat.
It's stuffy in this car. Where are the window controls? Aside the shifter, of course. Perfectly logical place. Man, this late afternoon sun is bright. Adjust the sun visor. Why won't it snap back into place? Oh, the open receiver tab faces the windshield, so you first have to clear the tab, then pull it back to snap into place. Makes sense.
February 22, 2012
Seven-hundred twenty-two miles of solo driving provides ample time to reflect on a car's faults, not to mention my own faults, and the faults of my close friends and family. But today I'll just tell you about a couple issues I noticed in our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport during my Vegas road trip with a detour through Death Valley.
The first concerns the sun visors.
February 17, 2012
Here's something I didn't expect from our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport: Serious comfort over 9 hours of driving. Nine hours. That's how long it took me to make it back from Vegas using back roads, stopping for photos, stopping for lunch, stopping for coffee and detouring onto California Highway 58 after Highway 14 closed near Mojave (overturned 18-wheeler, a Cal Trans officer told me, which was sad news but not surprising -- it was 38 degrees and windy and a wintry mix was falling).
If you'd told me before the trip that I'd last that long in the Fiat without getting all kinked up, uncomfortable and generally grumpy, I wouldn't have believed you. But this car turned out to be a great pick for 450 slow miles -- at least in the comfort department. Seriously.
January 06, 2012
Ok, what the heck does cheese have to do with cars? Well, lemme tell you...
Besides my abiding love for all things motorized, I also have an obsession with food and drink. And that's not at all unique, as I've found through the years.
Case in point: The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. It's one of my favorite places on the planet, right up there with Laguna Seca, Big Sur or pretty much anywhere in Italy. I've been fortunate to befriend the owner, Norbert, who turns out to be a bit of a car nut as we all are. Whenever I get a cool car, I make a point to drop by to see how he reacts. Besides Norbert, there are plenty of other car folk to chat up, one of whom set up the Kulinary Mille that I ran in our long-term Mustang.
November 16, 2011
I've driven our longterm 2012 Fiat 500 numerous times now, so now it can come out -- I don't like it. I gave it the ol' college try several times and I've reached this conclusion every time. And I've found I don't like it even before it moves an inch under its own power.
I don't fit; it's as though the seat doesn't ratchet down far enough so I bonk my head on the roof near the door. I'm not that tall (6' 1"), either.
Go ahead, try to stick the key into the ignition. What are you waiting for? Right, the dash crowds the ignition slot, so it's always a bumfight between hand, key and dash.
Succeed at starting it and you're rewarded with the shrillest, most piercing seatbelt alert in the history of personal transportation.
Scramble for the seatbelt. Find it's snagged on the lower part of the seat plastic. Always. Every time. Open the door to un-snag the belt.
All this, and the actual driving experience is pretty ho-hum. Power is fine, really, especially once you really explore the throttle's reach (don't forget to hit the Sport button... every time). It's that the controls -- steering, clutch, shifter -- are all too light and feel artificial.
Fans of small, light cars deserve better than the Fiat 500.
--Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
November 16, 2011
Shallow blog entry alert, shallow blog entry alert... and what are you going to do about it? I'm covering an auto show for the rest of today and unable to respond to any retorts, even the witty ones.
It probably goes without saying that an Italian car would have adequate facilities for securing a cappuccino, and indeed our long-term 2012 Fiat 500 does it well. OK, so for the sake of this photo, I left the sippy top off -- something I wouldn't do while the car is moving. But that doesn't change the fact that this cupholder really anchors a coffee cup in place.
I thought to mention this, because the Mini Cooper we used in the comparison test with our Fiat did a poor job in this department. Even with a lid, no cappuccino was safe.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 9,604 miles
November 15, 2011
I like this door handle/door lock design in our 500. To unlock the car from the inside, you just pull on the door handle in the usual fashion. To lock the car from the inside, you push on the handle and that little red stripe indicates it's locked. No buttons. Very clean and simple. And shiny.
Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 9,606 miles
November 13, 2011
Several of our 2102 Fiat 500's controls take some getting used to, and some seem almost intentionally hidden -- even the ones we all use quite often. Resetting the trip meter is a bit frustrating until you learn its unique location on the end of the windshield wiper stalk. It's labelled, but only in a manner the front passenger can see.
The dash-mounted volume and tuning buttons for the stereo are particularly galling in that they are styled to look like protruding twist-knobs at a glance, but they're really just buttons. I've reached up to crank up the volume (and we all say crank for a reason) with a twisting grasp already pre-loaded on more than one occasion. Psyche!
Thankfully, and to a caertain extent secretly, Chrysler's corporate standard steering-mounted audio buttons sit hidden on the back face of the main steering wheel spokes at 9 and 3 o'clock. Thery're not marked in any way, but they are there if you hunt around.
At the head unit, the volume controls (such as they are) are on the left and the tuning controls sit to the right. This matches every single car stereo I've ever owned, every two-stem radio I've ever removed from a car and every aftermarket stereo I've ever bought from Crutchfield and installed myself.
Compared to this the steering wheel buttons seem backwards: the volume one is on the right at 3 o'clock and the tuning/preset scan one is on the left at 9 o'clock. In more than one Chrysler product of recent vintage -- and now this Fiat -- I've accidentally changed the station when I wanted to up the volume.
At least they're there. And I suppose I'd eventually get used to it if this was the only car I drove every day. But I still don't see the point of swimming upstream of 50 years of standardization: left = volume, right = tune.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
November 10, 2011
There are very few things I'd change about our Fiat 500. I like how it has just enough power to have fun and bumper-car footprint. I also like the concentric gauges. And that's one place where the 500C (convertible) has an edge.
While I like the design of the gauges, the thinner "Univers" font can be a little hard to read.
October 17, 2011
Had to take my dog Mya to the vet this weekend to get the staples in her tail removed. For weeks she had to sport that cone of shame all dogs love. But this past Saturday was the big day she was going to be able to shed that ignominious garb. But since I had the 2012 Fiat 500 Sport, I couldn't get her in the backseat without first removing the cone. Not so much an issue since her tail was already healed up so the chances of her going after it were probably nil. But it's just a good thing I had something with easier entry to the back than the Fiat when we first got her tail stitched up.
In any case, check her out in the backseat. Within petting (and doggy breath smelling) distance. Only thing was that the only way to get her air back there quickly is to roll down our windows since the air coming through the vents on the dash weren't cutting it.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 8,847 miles
October 11, 2011
Apparently I had our 2012 Fiat 500 right after a
tall short-torsoed editor because its driver seat was a bit too high for my comfort so I tried to use the seat height adjuster to fix this. But when I pushed down on it, nothing. When I pulled it, nothing. Not wanting to have a repeat of what happened when we first got the Fiat, I just left it alone and moved my seat closer to the pedals.
So I read the owner's manual to see if I was doing it wrong and sure enough it said that the lever needs to be pumped upward to raise the seat height and downward to lower it. I tried doing this instead but still got nothing. Hmf.
In a past Fiat post when we had Tweeps (Twitter people) test-drive the 500, one of them complained about the adjuster, too: "The seat height adjuster didn't seem to raise or lower the seat at all and felt cheap."
So now I'm wondering if any other Fiat 500 owners have experienced this issue. I mean, we just got this fixed.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
October 06, 2011
My iPhone and parking card usually end up in a car's cupholders. If I'm using my iPod, it could end up in there too. Should I be going a longer distance and have a bottle of water, things get tricky.
That's why I like the tri-cupholder dealy bob in the 500. Its narrow forward bin in particular keeps my iPhone or iPod secure and easily reached. From a cupholder perspective, you could put two smaller cups/cans in it and/or one jumbo gulp. Sure, the unit could be mounted a little higher, but it's a simple, yet thoughtfully designed feature that makes a difference.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,765 miles
October 03, 2011
The house of Gucci is revered around the world, known for fashion -- and handbags. Oh, I know you're gonna be devastated that this post isn't about handbags.
It's about the new Fiat 500 by Gucci. If the regular 500 doesn't have enough style, or if you love luxury brands and like to flaunt it, maybe this is for you.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the JLo video of her driving the Gucci machine. So you'll have to make do with the two others vids that showcase Gucci's oh-so-cool style.
October 03, 2011
I filled the fuel tank of our long-term 2012 Fiat 500 Sport for the first time over the weekend. We keep track of fuel economy here so I had to reset the trip odo. I struggled with the Menu buttons in the lower right of the above pic for a good 10 minutes, then gave up and did some RTFM.
It turns out the trip reset is on the end of the right stalk. Our long-term Chevy Cruze also has the trip reset at the tip of the stalk.
September 27, 2011
So there I am. I've got a car for the weekend, and I'm stoked. But as I stand ready to hop in, I look down and see a weird pattern on the driver's seat. Now, the lighting is a little random, so I move my head back and forth trying to cancel out any lighting anomalies, but it's no use.
That's a stain.
Is there any other way to say it? The stain looks to have emanated from the crotchal region of someone who drove the car.
I told myself it was just sweat. Tell me I'm right. Please. But we've had such a cool summer...
And another thing, take a look at the fabric. Your eyes do not fool you - the fabric has a metallic quality, see the right side bolster? That's light reflected off the seat cushion. I would expect a metallic surface to have less... absorbent qualities.
Someone give me a towel. And some denatured alcohol.
And please, tell me it's sweat.
Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 8,449 miles
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.
August 29, 2011
I signed out the 500 for the weekend and knowing that temps would hit triple digits and that the Fiat's transparent sunroof shade was about as effective as a screen door in a submarine, some Yankee ingenuity was in order.
August 25, 2011
Subcompacts like the 500 don't offer lots of opportunities for in-cabin storage. That's the price you pay for getting a car that never saw a parking space it couldn't squeeze into.
August 17, 2011
This weekend my parents were in town but I forgot they were visiting and had signed out our short-termer Fiat 500C. Oops. So I ended up having to shuttle them around town in the backseat of the small car. Surprisingly, even though Mom and Pops (both 5'5") are about 160-170 pounds each they fit nicely back there. They still had elbow room and comfortable-enough legroom even with the front seats allowing enough room for the front passengers. Then again, my folks DO have short legs.
Since that was the drop-top 500 I wanted to see if it was any different from our regular 500 in terms of rear space.
August 04, 2011
Well, if youre expecting some sort of pocket-size GTI, then youll just have to wait for the Abarth. Just saw an ad on the back of this weeks Autosport and there are three of them in Britain, all in pretty zippy specification. The U.S. version will be introduced at the L.A. auto show.
But theres no sense acting all surprised that the Fiat 500 isnt exactly the drivers car of your dreams. Its more like a Nissan Cube than a Mini Cooper, and it looks silly when its posing on a rural road instead of on a city street. When it comes to driving fast, it steers a little too quickly, reacts a little too much when you get into the brakes, and the suspension calibration has more springing than damping.
Instead this is a car that just takes you places. And this is way more relevant to the way real people really live than some wacky quasi-Italian hot rod with a stinger exhaust. (Abarths signature is the scorpion, you know.)
August 02, 2011
When I climb into Fiat 500, I look like this. Yes I'm tall, but it's quite rare that I find myself into a car's roof like this. Now, this is a result of two things. The first is the tall seating position, which creates more than enough legroom. The second is the 500's sunroof (optional on our Sport model), that robs a few valuable inches of headroom. I fit without any problem in 500s without the sunroof.
Yet, since we annoyingly ordered our 500 with the sunroof, I've been forced to cope in these following ways...
July 28, 2011
There's a dinky little nylon loop on the inside of our long-term 2012 Fiat 500's hatch. It's really only big enough to grab with your right index finger, but the hatch is so small and light that you actually can get the leverage you need to close it in one motion.
More importantly, the loop is riveted securely onto the hatch, so unlike with our Volvo S60's grab handle, I haven't broken it yet.
July 25, 2011
Take a look at these chairs -- plump and shaped to properly support one's legs and torso. With their generous padding (especially under the knees), they make the Fiat 500 comfortable on longer drives as I discovered during a cruise up the coast.
However, a few of the taller staffers feel that the 500's seating position is just too high (even with the adjuster cranked down). At a towering 5'-5", I'll admit that was my initial feeling too. But after I'd logged some miles in Luigi, the seat height seems spot on. In a little runabout like the Fiat 500, sitting up and seeing over the stubby hood just adds to the car's nimble feel when you're dicing with city traffic or swinging it into a small parking spot.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
July 20, 2011
So I know the 500 is smaller than the Mini Cooper, but when I saw a Cooper parked on Wilshire the other day, I couldn't resist the urge to get the little cars parked next to each other for a visual comparison.
The Cooper is obviously longer and wider. Relative to the Cooper, though, the 500's cabin is roomier than you might think, in certain respects.
June 23, 2011
When I got our Fiat yesterday, the first thing I did was show it off to my friend Dana, a fortysomething teacher, jewelry maker and gourmet cook. She gravitates to small, sporty cars: Her recent auto history includes her current 2004 Mini Cooper Hatchback and before that, a Honda Civic del Sol. That's why I thought she'd like the Fiat.
I was wrong.
She loved it. As in full-tilt, take-my-breath-away, oh-my-god-it's-so-cute loved it. We drove around for a few minutes and she cooed as she ran her hand over the red dash panel. She perched in the passenger seat, found it comfortable, stretched a bit to check the full legroom and had me put the car in Sport mode. More fun, we decided.
June 17, 2011
So we've already established that the interior door handle in the 2012 Fiat 500 looks like a toilet flusher. Moving on?
The inspiration for this video was when I tried to unlock the door in the Fiat 500 and had absolutely no idea how to do it. Turns out, it's via the door handle. Push it in and the doors lock, pull it out to the detent and they unlock. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
June 17, 2011
Our Fiat 500 has a blind-spot mirror on the driver side. It's a bit odd to look at initially since it's such an uncommon feature, but I happen to like it. It seems like a good idea, actually, so I'm curious why more automakers haven't adopted it over the years. (Ford is the major exception.) Of course more cars are coming out with electronic blind-spot monitors, but the mirror seems to work just as well.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
June 11, 2011
...in too small a display area. I generally like the interior design of the 500, but can't give them a pass for this ergonomic faux pas. Having a singular instrument binnacle is retro and cute and all, but its display is a mess visually and makes "at a glance" reading a bit tough.
Although you can eliminate the clutter and leave just the odometer display by pressing the "menu/esc" button, it'd be nice if said button instead allowed you to scroll through each display individually so that they could be shown on their own and in a larger format.
As it is, it seems that the designer was inspired more by his bowl of Alpha-Bits than by the goal of user friendliness.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor
June 06, 2011
The Fiat 500 is all-new (for America, anyway) and comes after a 27-year absence for the company. You might think that the driving experience would be pretty novel. It is. But if you've spent any time with a Smart ForTwo or VW New Beetle, you'll also find some similarities.
Like the Smart, the 500 is petite in the way that only a European city car can be. If you've got a passenger, hopefully you won't mind sharing personal space. Also like the Smart, people are always staring at you when drive it, as if you warped in from Veridian III. They're also always staring down, because they're invariably driving comparatively gargantuan Chevy Suburbans and full-size pickups.
The staring can get awkward (maybe I should just flip them off; would that be the Italian thing to do?), so instead I just keep my eyes ahead. Here, the 500 reminds me of the New Beetle. It has a deep dashboard and rounded greenhouse evocative of the Beetle, and the climate controls are similar. Oh, and there's that whole cute vibe thing going on.
May 23, 2011
I took my dog Mya for a spin in our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport and loved how easy it was to pet her on the head from the front seat as well as get a hold of her to buckle her in that backseat. But getting her in and out of the car was another matter. Since the front seats don't fall forward enough and she's a bit portly (65 pounds), I had to have her step on the front seat to get in and out. Not my favorite option since that means I have to cover the seats so she doesn't muss them up. Plus she has a difficult time squeezing between the two seats. Oh well, Mya, we at least have the Juke for a fun city car you can ride in.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
May 20, 2011
Since it was a gorgeous day, I decided to open up the sunroof of our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport. Yeah, I dislike the fact that there's only a screen instead of an actual sliding panel to cover your head, especially on oppressively sunny days, but I do like how the screen, when the sunroof is open, makes me feel less exposed to the elements, bees, etc.
I had to drive with the windows down a bit instead of merely cracked a smidge to prevent that interior air thump but not a big deal. And the screen doesn't reverberate with the wind, so that's something of note.
May 16, 2011
There's a lot to like about our Fiat 500. One of them is the interior door handle. You give the handle a little push and it exposes a little red indicator, locking the doors. Unlocking and opening the door is accomplished with one tug of the handle. Nice. Another reason I like it is because it gives me a chuckle, because it looks like...
May 13, 2011
Sorry, kids, when I posted the "hey, we got the Fiat 500's seat adjuster fixed and it was free and easy and the dealership is still as friendly as it was before Fiat" blog, I did not post a picture of the fixed lever. Uhm, it was my first day at this? Sorry, bad move.
Anyway, here it is. And you'll notice, it's not some skimpy thing, it's actually fairly solid and if you look where it actually broke, it's a little surprising. It's not on the bend, or where there's a seam or a detail. Nope, it just snapped in the middle of what could be the thickest part.
May 11, 2011
What do you think of this display on our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport? Too much info crowded into a small space? FYI, you have the option to display the speed or not. And the trip info has to be clicked to as it's not readily shown. In any case, I was surprised how easy this was to read. Sure, it's a lot of info all over the place but you get it after awhile, I credit Tweetdeck (Twitter platform for those who don't know).
By the way, that digital speedo actually matched the speed displayed on the regular speedo. So that's something.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
May 11, 2011
The first few times I drove our 2012 Fiat 500 Sport, it took some getting used to what with all its quirky ways of doing things. For instance, I don't want to admit how long it took before I gave up looking for the tripmeter button and grabbed the owner's manual instead. For the record, you can't even see that stalk sitting behind the steering wheel like that, so I don't care how clearly marked it is. So there. Heh.
May 10, 2011
Last night I drove our Fiat 500 Sport for the first time.
Today I want to buy one.
I've had terrible lower back problems for the past couple of years, and I after a few miles even the most plush seats in super luxury cars can make me squirm uncomfortably.
Not so with the little Fiat. It was as if the seat was fashioned out of a weight-absorbing sling, while the seating position allowed me perfect access to the pedals, steering wheel and center-console controls.
Can't tell you the last time I did my 100-mile round-trip commute in such comfort.
Crazy, no? I hardly believe it myself.
Better drive it again tonight, just to make sure...
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 2,436
May 06, 2011
"We're sorry you had to drive all the way down here, but..." I've been at the new super Fiat / Chrysler / Dodge dealership, Motor Village LA (unfortunately close to USC) for less than ten minutes and things already aren't going well, "...we can't find your part. We don't even know where the Fiat parts are stored yet."
The seat lever for our 2012 Fiat 500 broke early in our testing and took about two weeks to get in. Shorter, actually, than I thought. But when I got to the dealership on that Saturday, the part was nowhere to be found and, surprise, the parts manager doesn't answer his cell on weekends.
May 06, 2011
Judging from your comments in the intro post of our 2012 Fiat 500, a lot of you believe it's a "girl's car." Well, considering they came out with this pink "ode to Barbie" version in January and the Fiat 500 by Gucci this week, you may be on to something. Squeee! It's so cute and stylish!
The Fiat 500 by Gucci is available in white or black and has chrome accents, 16-inch alloy wheels, and the signature Gucci green-and-red stripe wrapping around its sides. In the interior there are two-tone leather seats, glossy black trim and Gucci badges galore. One of the models is even equipped with Gucci green rear brake calipers. The designer brand also sells a line of clothing and accessories to complement the car.