With up to $14,000 in credits or rebates available, the 500e is fun and engaging city car that many can afford.
Fiat is a founding brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) with a large global but limited US presence. After a long hiatus, the company returned to the US in 2011 with the 500, which has since spawned a high-performance Abarth variant, a 500e electric model, and two compact crossovers, the 500L and 500X.
It might be based on the new Mazda MX-5, but its styling and character is unmistakably Italian.
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Fiat's cute little 500 model is big on style but short on space, so now we have the 500X, a compact SUV that delivers on cargo and cabin room while offering a surprisingly good ride.
Though big for a Fiat model, the 2014 Fiat 500L is still small for a wagon or crossover that boasts so much interior volume. However, limited tech and performance have us reconsidering the competition.
The pure-electric 2013 Fiat 500e has the looks, the range, and the power to be city-car practical, but competing models offer better dashboard tech.
A turbocharger, closer gear ratios, and suspension tuning make the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth ridiculously fun to drive, but it takes the TomTom navigation option to overcome problems with the cabin tech interface.
The tiny 2012 Fiat 500C is the best-looking car among the new economy set, but it doesn't edge anyone out based on its cabin or performance technology.
"Thanks for the chassis we couldn't build by ourselves, Mazda. Now we're going to steal your sales."
It might not be the merger the company needs, but it's definitely an interesting development.
You'd think that would be a make-or-break part of the test drive, before it ever left the lot.