12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Fiat 500 Sport - Leaving the Box

July 5, 2012
2012 Fiat 500 Sport Front Left View
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Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Update - SUMMER 2012 (2 OF 3)
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.
2012 Fiat 500 Sport Front Right View
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

Long-Term 2012 Fiat 500 Reviews to Date:

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