FIAT Buying Guide
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Fiat sold its first car in 1899, making it one of the oldest automotive nameplates. Now one of several brands under the umbrella of Stellantis (a conglomerate that also includes Chrysler, Jeep, and Maserati), the Italian marque was absent from the U.S. market for decades before returning in 2012 with the 500, a two-door city car that borrows its charming looks from its 1950s namesake. Other popular Fiats include two larger models with similar styling, the 500L, a four-door hatchback, and the 500X, a subcompact SUV. Fiat also has its own version of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider.
If Fiat has a modern flagship vehicle, it's got to be the 500: a compact, dexterous passenger vehicle with a trim for every need and style. You've got the Fiat 500 coupe, convertible and hot rod as well as a four-door Fiat 500L family vehicle, the 500x crossover SUV and the Fiat 500e electric vehicle for the energy-conscious driver.
Performance and Dependability
In 2013 and 2015, Fiat won the J.D. Power and Associates Performance Award for having the highest performance and design owner ratings in its class after three months of ownership. In 2013, Fiat also won the J.D. Power Dependability Award for having the least number of issues reported per 100 drivers of a three-year-old vehicle over a 12-month period. The front-wheel drive 2019 Fiat 500 has 111 to 160 horsepower and gets 24 to 28 mpg in town and 32 to 33 mpg on the highway.
Agile handling and deft maneuverability make driving Fiat vehicles a true delight. The engine is eminently cooperative and accommodating while the manual transmission shifts smoothly and cleanly. The intuitive Uconnect entertainment system with two USB ports, six speakers, Bluetooth capability and a 5-inch touch screen only adds to the enjoyment. Fiats also zip around speedily, especially in towns and cities, grip the road tightly and park with ease, helping keep the focus on fun.
A common complaint about pretty much all Fiat models is that their cabins are cramped and offer limited space for passengers or cargo. Tall drivers and riders, in particular, may have a difficult time finding a comfortable position in a Fiat. The cockpit is a bit narrow and the steering wheel is not adjustable, making for an awkward driving position. The back seats are particularly tight, and the rear seats don't fold down to increase cargo capacity. This gives most Fiats less than 10 cubic feet of cargo space.
Bumpy, Noisy Ride
The insubstantial cabins of Fiats lend to a bumpy and noisy ride. From the 124 Spider Sport to the 500L, a ride in a Fiat is particularly loud and rough on highways and over choppy pavement.
Despite their attractive, Italian-designed appearance, the hard plastic materials in the interiors of Fiats like the 500L feel a bit cheap and outdated, although leather trim upgrades are available. The absence of modern driver safety assistance tools only adds to the insubstantial and unsupportive feel of the interior, whether the standard or electric 500, though many newer Fiats do have Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a low tire pressure warning system.