Minor updates abound for the 2014 Fiat 500. There is a new Avorio (ivory) accented interior; revised five-spoke, sixteen-inch wheels on the 500 Sport; and Hyper Nero (black) sixteen-inch aluminum wheels on the Turbo. The passenger seat also now sits one inch lower to increase front headroom...
American consumers looking for a little bit of la dolce vita were able to purchase the button-cute Fiat 500 starting in 2011, when the Italian brand relaunched in America. The 2014 Fiat 500 -- which was introduced to much acclaim in Europe in 2007 -- was one of the first fruits of the then-still-new acquisition of Chrysler Group by Italian auto giant Fiat. The reincarnated Fiat 500 blended the iconic design of the original Fiat Cinquecento with a thoroughly modern minicar. Although the 2014 Fiat 500 wasn't tasked with putting a nation on wheels like the original one, the 500 helped to fill Fiat's coffers and reinvigorate what was otherwise a bit of an also-ran in the European market. In the United States, the Fiat 500 helped to breathe new life into the minicar segment, which had long been the realm of vehicles commonly referred to as "penalty boxes."
Unlike the 2014 Fiat 500 sold in Europe, the car we receive here in the U.S. is made at Chrysler's plant in Toluca, Mexico. (European models are built at a facility in Poland jointly owned by Fiat and Ford.) Also built in Toluca are the Dodge Journey crossover and its rebadged Fiat Freemont twin.
Fiat offers a slew of different 500 variants. Buyers first need to choose between the Fiat 500 hatchback and the 500C droptop, the latter of which has a rollback cloth roof that leaves the pillars intact and is reminiscent of the original cloth-top 500. After body style, it's a matter of power: there are two engine options with three different outputs among the Fiat 500, the 500 Turbo, and the 500 Abarth. There is also an all-electric version (the 500e), which is rated by the EPA for 87 miles of driving range but is available only in California.
The base Fiat 500/500C uses a 1.4-liter four-cylinder MultiAir engine good for 101 hp. It has to move only about 2400 pounds, so the 500 has relatively brisk performance. Manual-transmission, non-turbo models achieve 40 mpg on the highway. For drivers who don't want three pedals, the optional six-speed automatic has both manual-shift and sport modes.
The 500 Turbo and the 500/500C Abarth models are available only with five-speed manual transmissions and a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir I-4 engine. The Turbo produces 135 hp to the Abarth's 160 hp, and it has the underpinnings of the normally aspirated Sport model instead of the Abarth's uprated suspension, wheels, differential, and transmission.
Although the 500 is designed to seat four passengers, rear legroom measures less than 32 inches, which means space is tight. The benefit is that, at 139.6 inches long, the 500 will fit almost anywhere and makes parallel parking a breeze. Inside, you'll find modern technology with a retro feel. Behind the two-tone dashboard is a voice-activated, hands-free Blue&Me infotainment system as well as an optional TomTom portable GPS navigation unit. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has rated the 2014 Fiat 500 as a Top Safety Pick.
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