2018 Fiat 500e

2018 FIAT 500e Review

The 500e is stylish and affordable, but its short range is a significant drawback.
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

When it was introduced in 2013, the Fiat 500e fit right in with the electric vehicles of the time. The 500e was small, inexpensive and had a range that we called "an above-average number for an EV." But with the advent of cars such as the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, the bar has been raised. Without any significant changes to its battery technology over the last five years, the 2018 Fiat 500e is no longer as competitive as it once was.

The 500e does offer some things that other EVs don't. It has an expressive design and excellent handling characteristics, and its short wheelbase and narrow track make it ideal for city dwellers who have trouble finding roomy parking spaces. The 500e has also been one of the most affordable EVs to lease over the past few years.

However, the 500e's diminutive stature makes for a compact cabin and cargo area, and the small battery pack only offers 84 miles of range. As an affordable runabout, it's worth considering, but know that rivals such as the Bolt, Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf are superior EVs overall.



What's new for 2018

A rearview camera is now standard. Otherwise the 2018 Fiat 500e is unchanged from last year's model.

We recommend

Choosing which 2018 Fiat 500e to buy is easy because it only comes in one trim. The only options are a sunroof and the eSport package, which gives the 500e a distinctive look for a negligible extra cost.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Fiat 500e is a two-door, pure electric hatchback sold in a single, well-equipped trim level (the gasoline-powered Fiat 500 is reviewed separately). The 500e is powered by an 83-kilowatt electric motor (111 horsepower, 147 pound-feet of torque) channeled to the front wheels through a single-speed automatic transmission. A rechargeable 24-kWh lithium-ion battery pack powers the motor. The EPA estimates the 500e can travel up to 84 miles on a full charge. Fiat claims a 24-hour charge time from empty using a typical 120-volt outlet, while a Level 2 charger will do the job in about four hours.

Standard features for the 500e include 15-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, remote locking and unlocking, automatic climate control, a driver information display, full power accessories, cruise control, manually adjustable heated front seats with driver-side height adjustment, premium vinyl upholstery, a leather-wrapped and tilt-adjustable steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 50/50-split folding rear seats, floor mats and a cargo cover. Standard technology features include Bluetooth, navigation, voice commands, a 5-inch touchscreen, and a six-speaker Alpine audio system with satellite radio, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.

The only options are a sunroof and the eSport appearance package, which includes darkened exterior lamp bezels, orange exterior trim pieces, and special 15-inch wheels for a more customized look.



Driving

The 500e is an entertaining electric vehicle, with good moves at every turn. It's actually quicker to 60 mph than the regular Fiat 500. Driving that enthusiastically will greatly reduce range, however, so it's best to keep a light foot.

Acceleration

Copious electric-motor torque imparts a good drive-away feel from a stop. Our 500e scooted to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, which is above average in the EV world and even bests the gasoline-powered Fiat 500.

Braking

The brake pedal is firm and reassuring, and routine in-town stops feel, well, routine. Our panic stop from 60 mph took 129 feet — a little long, but not alarmingly so.

Steering

The steering wheel feels oddly heavy when driving straight, but it wakes up nicely and gives good feedback when turning through corners. Strangely, the 500e is more responsive than the standard Fiat 500.

Handling

The 500e stands apart from other electric vehicles with its great balance and an eagerness to turn. It's one of the more entertaining electric vehicles on the market.

Drivability

Smooth is the order of the day, but we wish the Fiat 500e had a mode you could set to enable extra regenerative braking force.

Comfort

The Fiat 500e is quiet, but its suspension delivers a busier and more unsettled ride on uneven surfaces than we'd like.

Seat comfort

The front-seat adjustments are fairly basic, but the cushion and backrest provide adequate support.

Ride comfort

The Fiat 500e pitches and bucks on its short wheelbase more than expected. A standard 500 rides better.

Noise & vibration

In true EV fashion, the 500e glides around in silence, at least when it comes to noise from the motor. Tire noise is noticeable, but mainly because there's no noise from anything else.

Interior

Like a regular Fiat 500, the 500e suffers from two things: form over function and, to a greater degree, a back seat that isn't terribly practical for family use. Think of it as a two-seater and you'll get along with it much better.

Ease of use

We've never liked the 500's window switch controls, trip computer reset buttons or seat-height adjuster. Add a weird push-button shifter with no enhanced EV regen mode to our list of gripes.

Getting in/getting out

The wide doors offer easy entry to the front seats, but the rear seats are hard to wriggle into. This is not the right car if you plan to haul adults or even teens in the back seat.

Roominess

There is good head- and legroom up front, but the rear seat isn't something you'd want to depend on unless the driver is short.

Visibility

It's easy to see out the front, but the center door post seems to be in the way when checking your blind spot. Rear visibility is about average for this kind of car.

Utility

There isn't much room for cargo behind the rear seats if someone is sitting there. They need to be folded to get much utility. The 500e works best in the two-seat configuration.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.