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$4,838 - $6,830
$15,500 - $23,500

Pros & Cons

  • Nimble handling
  • Easy to park
  • Limited cargo space
  • Slow highway acceleration
  • Awkward USB interface




Critics' Rating: 7.8
Performance: 7.6
Interior: 6.4
Total Cost of Ownership: 9.4
Safety: 7.8
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2012 Fiat 500 Overview

When it was new, test drivers said the 2012 Fiat 500’s base four-cylinder engine is extremely smooth and offers plenty of power for darting around the city. However, several test drivers noted that due to its slow acceleration at higher speeds, highway merging and passing maneuvers require careful planning. They preferred the 500 Abarth model’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine for its added power. Test drivers said that the standard five-speed manual transmission is fun to shift, while the available six-speed automatic shifts quickly and smoothly. The 2012 Fiat 500 gets up to an EPA-estimated 30/38 mpg city/highway, which is exceptional for a subcompact car. Auto writers said the Fiat 500 is a joy to drive, with sharp steering and agile handling that’s rare for a subcompact car. Still, some noted that it’s not quite as nimble as the Mini Cooper. They also said it has a relatively smooth ride, and noted that the 500 is extremely easy to park and maneuver in tight spaces thanks to its tight turning radius.

Test drivers generally liked the 2012 Fiat 500’s retro-inspired interior style. They said the cabin is made with mostly hard plastics, which is typical for the class, but some reviewers found that seat controls and other buttons on the center stack particularly cheap. Reviewers wrote that the cockpit is quite spacious for the driver and front passenger, with plenty of leg- and headroom, provided you don’t choose a model that has a sunroof. While some test drivers said the 500’s back seat is adequate for shorter adults on quick trips, others noted that it’s practically unusable. Cargo space is limited as well, particularly when the rear seats are in use, they added. The base Fiat 500 comes with a six-speaker audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary jack, cruise control and keyless entry. Available features include rear park assist, a Bose premium audio system, satellite radio, heated front seats, leather upholstery and FIAT’s voice-activated Blue&Me system, which includes Bluetooth and a USB port. Test drivers said the voice controls don't work well and it is hard to program the optional audio system.

Other Cars to Consider

Reviewers said the 2012 Volkswagen Golf has one of the highest-quality interiors in the class thanks to upscale materials. They were also impressed with its athletic handling and powerful base engine.

 According to reviewers, the 2012 Ford Fiesta is one of the best-driving cars in the class thanks to its peppy engine and crisp handling. They liked the fit and finish of the Fiesta’s cabin and the number of available features, including leather seats.

Compare the 500, Golf and Fiesta »


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