New Car Reviews

2012 Fiat 500 Sport – Leaving the Box

Miles to date: 19,437

Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Update: Summer 2012 ( 3 of 5 ) Miles to date: 19,437

“The Fiat 500 gets a piece of just about everything we throw at it.”

It would be easy to leave the Fiat 500 in the box it was built for, labeled “a-freaking-dorable city car,” but we keep things interesting by pushing the little critter to do tasks outside of its intended regimen.
Senior web editor Phil Floraday recently adopted a 105-pound American bulldog with a head the size of a hippo’s. Floraday decided to show his new pet off at work and brought Duke — that’s the pooch’s name — to the office in the 500. Duke fit snuggly in the back half of the car once the rear seats were folded flat. “He didn’t care for the liftover height of the rear hatch, but he loved the rear windows because they let him size up other drivers on the expressway,” laughed Floraday.

With the rear seat upright and two child safety seats strapped into place, copy editor Rusty Blackwell turned the Fiat into a family hauler for a trip to a Detroit Tigers game. “As tricky as it is to get the seats in through the front doors and to pull the anchor straps tight, it’s much easier in this car than it is in our Four Seasons Nissan Juke, a car that should seemingly be much more spacious,” said Blackwell. While two, front-facing child seats will fit side-by-side in the Fiat’s back seat, Blackwell faces one seat forward and one backward. “I like doing this partially for safety reasons but more for the onlooker shock value.” Yep, pulling an 18-month-old child through the hatch of a Fiat sure is shocking.
The Fiat 500 gets a piece of just about everything we throw at it. It can hug turns up and down back roads, eat up miles on the highway, and handle a whole lot of cargo, be it your kids or your giant dog. But while some of the things you can do in the Fiat are truly astonishing for a car of this size, we don’t think that Fiat 500 is an astonishing car on the whole. Instead, we think senior editor Eric Tingwall’s take on the 500 is pretty accurate: “Consider all of the challenges in building a car this narrow, this short, and this tall, and the Fiat 500 is simply amazing. The ride quality, the stability, and the body control are excellent. I’ve previously spoken out against the seating position, but it shouldn’t take an engineer to recognize that the upright buckets are a necessity for Fiat to include rear seats. The Fiat 500 really is a competent car — not just a competent small car.”


  • Body style: 2-door hatchback
  • Accommodation: 4-passenger seating
  • Construction: Unitized steel body
  • Base price: (with dest.) $18,000
  • As tested: $19,850


  • Engine: 1.4-liter MultiAir I-4
  • Displacement: 1.4 liters
  • Power: 101 hp @ 6500 rpm
  • Torque: 98 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
  • Transmission type: 5-speed manual transmission
  • Drive: Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 30/38/33 (city/hwy/combined)


  • Steering: Power rack and pinion with electric power steering column
  • Lock-to-lock: 3
  • Turning circle: 30.6 ft
  • Suspension, front: Sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs
  • Suspension, rear: Sport-tuned shock absorbers and springs
  • Brakes f/r: Vented disc/solid disc
  • Wheels: 16-in. aluminum wheels
  • Tires: Continental ContiProContact
  • Tire size: 195/45R16


  • Headroom f/r: 37.6/35.6 in
  • Legroom f/r: 40.7/31.7 in
  • Shoulder room f/r: 49.4/46.4 in
  • Wheelbase: 90.6 in
  • Track f/r: 55.4/55.0 in
  • L x W x H: 139.6 x 64.1 x 59.8 in
  • Cargo capacity: 9.5 cu ft
  • Weight: 2363 lb
  • Weight dist. f/r: 64/36
  • Fuel capacity: 10.5 gal
  • Est. fuel range: 346 miles
  • Fuel grade: 91 octane (premium unleaded)


  • standard equipment

    • 1.4-liter MultiAir I-4 engine
    • 5-speed manual transmission
    • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes
    • 16-in. aluminum wheels
    • Electronic stability control
    • Power windows w/one-touch-down
    • Power locks
    • Remote keyless entry
    • Speed control
    • Hill start assist
    • Tire pressure monitoring system
    • Rear window defroster
    • Rear window wiper/washer
    • Sport suspension
    • 12-volt auxiliary power outlet
    • Air conditioning
    • Driver height adjustable seat w/memory
    • Bose premium audio system
    • Leather-wrapped sport steering wheel
    • Steering wheel-mounted audio controls
    • Auxiliary audio input jack
    • Tilt steering column
    • Front floor mats
    • Chrome shift knob
    • Halogen projector headlights
    • Power heated exterior mirrors
    • Fog lamps
    • Rear spoiler
    • Chrome exhaust tip
    • Red brake calipers
    • Tire service repair kit


  • Safety and Convenience package
  • $400
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Security alarm
  • Compact spare tire
  • Safety and Sound package
  • $200
  • Sirius XM satellite radio w/one-year subscription
  • Power sunroof $850
  • TomTom navigation w/BLUE and ME $400