By now, almost everyone has encountered a Fiat 500 on the road. With its unmistakable, diminutive profile, retro Italian styling and cute mustached front end, it is hard not to feel some joy when you're looking at one. Now, more than five years since its U.S. launch, the car is no longer unique in its defining features, but there's no denying that the cinquecento (Italian for "500") still serves as a stylish, affordable runabout for a driver without older children.
For the 2017, the Fiat 500 family has gotten quite a bit smaller. Discontinued are the Easy, Sport and Turbo trim levels offered for the 500. Also gone is the super-retro 1957 Edition. That leaves the 500 with just three available trim levels: the bare-bones Pop, the more luxurious Lounge and the sporty Abarth. The most painful loss is perhaps the 500 Turbo (or 500T). It provided the car with the pep of the Abarth, but without the less-than-subtle risotto-rocket treatment. For those missing the characteristics of the other trim levels, many of those features still exist, thank goodness, as an option that you can add to a surviving trim level.
While the losses are many, there are some gains for the 500 in 2017. Notably, the six-speaker Alpine audio system and driver information display come standard across all trim levels.
Inside the 500, you'll find the same vintage-inspired and colorful interior, still surprisingly spacious enough for two (but not four). Under the hood is the exact 1.4-liter MultiAir engine as in prior years. It still delivers a zero-to-60 time from the 1960s, just like the first new 500, which arrived in the U.S. in 2011. (This is not the case if you go for the peppier Abarth, with its turbocharged version of the engine.) The convertible still annoyingly converts into an accordion, blocking any vision in your rearview mirror. Finally, the exterior is unchanged. Despite its iconic appearance, the 500 could use a face-lift after five years — something that's yet to be adopted from its overseas counterpart.
Though the 2017 Fiat 500 has some shortcomings and losses, it continues to provide people with a stylishly simple, affordable hatchback. There's enough cargo storage for a weekend trip or errand around town, delivered with a lot of personality and a fun driving experience. Let Edmunds assist you in finding the right cinquecento for your dolce vita.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.