Before the 500, Fiat had not officially offered a car in the United States and Canada for nearly 30 years, so the diminutive two-door is a monumentally important vehicle for the brand as it hopes to reestablish itself as a player in the U.S. market.
For the last model year, Fiat has pared down the 500 lineup to just two trim levels. The Turbo model has been axed.
North American 500s
The 500 - or Cinquecento, as it is known in Italy - saw many changes during its journey across the pond to make it fit for American consumption.
Revisions include a redesigned body structure that resulted in additional strength, a re-tuned suspension that is sporty, but not overly firm, over 20 changes to reduce noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), a new ABS system, a larger 10.5-gallon fuel tank, upgraded heating and cooling, redesigned seats, re-tuned steering to increase stability and a new Bose energy Efficient Series audio system.
The 500 is powered by a 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque while returning 31 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy is rated at 27/34 mpg with an optional six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is the only configuration available.
Trim Level Breakdown
The 500 is available in two trim levels named Pop and Lounge, respectively.
If you want a 500 without frills (or added cost), the 500 Pop includes a manual transmission, 15-inch steel wheels with chrome-accented wheel covers and all-season tires, seven standard air bags, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 radio with auxiliary audio input, power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, speed control and reconfigurable Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) with trip computer, miles-to-empty, average fuel economy and tire-pressure monitoring display (TPM).
The 500 Lounge is the "Limited" model of the range, loaded with premium amenities including front- and rear-fascia chromed accents, chrome mirror caps, fog lamps, fixed glass roof, 15-inch aluminum wheels with all-season tires, premium cloth seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, Sirius satellite radio, Bose Energy Efficient Series audio system with six premium speakers and subwoofer, security alarm, Blue & Me Hands-free Communication technology with USB port and iPod control capability.
Standard safety items include dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.
Small, cute-as-a-button coupes like the 500 range from the truly small smart fortwo to the larger, fine-handling MINI Cooper.