2016 Fiat 500

Overview: If you’re an urban dweller who follows fashion trends more than car culture, the 2016 Fiat 500 just might be your car. Small and tidy, the 500 first came to our shores for 2012, marking the return of the Fiat brand to the U.S. market after a nearly 30-year absence. Initially introduced only as a hatchback, the 500 lineup has expanded over the past four years to include the 500C convertible, the electric 500E, and the high-performance, turbocharged Abarth. Although they’re not based on the pint-size 500, the larger but similarly styled 500L wagon and the 500X crossover-utility vehicle still share its name and showroom space.

Little has changed under the hood of the standard 500 since its introduction here, where the same iron-block four-cylinder continues to produce 101 horsepower from 1.4 liters of displacement in the Pop, Easy, and Lounge trims as well as the hatchback-only Sport and the retro-chic 1957 Edition. This Multiair engine is unusual in that it has a hydraulic variable intake valve lift system aimed at reducing pumping losses and improving gas mileage. Unfortunately, this engine is quite pokey, especially when teamed with the optional six-speed automatic transmission (a five-speed manual is standard) or the extra weight of the 500C’s power-folding top. That top, by the way, is more like a big cloth sunroof than a traditional convertible top, since the 500’s roof rails and B- and C-pillars all remain in place.

For more power-hungry consumers, there’s the 500 Turbo. Offered only in the fixed-roof body style, the Turbo includes a detuned version of the high-performance Abarth model’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With 135 horsepower making its way to the front wheels via the standard five-speed manual or the optional six-speed automatic, the Turbo is still no speed demon. However, it provides enough power to get the sub-2600-pound Fiat to highway speeds with relative confidence.

Starting prices range from $17,990 for the 500 Pop to $25,490 for the 500C Lounge. For this review, we drove a 2016 Fiat 500 Easy with the automatic transmission ($1350) and the Easy Collection 2 package ($1200), which includes a Beats premium audio system, SiriusXM satellite radio, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and automatic climate control. The total price for our Rhino gray example: $21,290. Read more...

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17 Jan 2017