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2013 Fiat 500 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Fiat 500c by LittleJohnny

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Introduction

A love and not quite satisfied relationship.

Reviewed: 2013 Fiat 500

2dr Convertible 101-horsepower 1.4L I4 6-speed shiftable automatic FWD

Why the 2013 Fiat 500?

Exterior styling

These Fiat 500c are great looking cars to me! I love the fact that they are loaded with small details that you only notice when you study the car. Also I really like that they are the opposite of the huge pickup trucks and SUV's everyone else seems to drive! SHEEP!

Interior styling

The interior is both a blessing and a curse: the front seat room is surprisingly good if you do not weigh 300 pounds or more, and the rear seats are so short in both headroom and leg room that they are close to a joke. They are only slightly worse than many 2+2 sporty cars but if you need four people at a time the rear two better be small kids or midget! Interior styling is mostly cute and in keeping with the retro look. The single integrated speedometer and tachometer in the 2012-2015 raises scorn with most professioal car reviewers but once you drive the car a little bit the gauge cluster become second nature. If you have an automatic, you only need the tachometer once in a while and in a manual transmission, you shift mostly by ear unless you need to get up to red line - and then you are paying more attention to the tach and very little to the speedometer. It works surprising well - but not the first drive or two. If you want the same two dial, hooded dashboard in 99% of today's cars and trucks - go elsewhere; you will not like this.

Color choices

Wow! A car that comes in some other colors beside white, black, and shades of gray! If you like different colors in your car (and I know most of you don't), the Fiat is one of the few choices if you want something other than token red. One of the reasons I got rid of my perfectly fine Mazda was the all black interior got really depressing after a couple of years. Kept my previous Mazda for nine years (lite tan interior color) but dumped the new one in three for the mat black everything interior. Picked up a 500c with brown leather with white trim and headliner and it is very open and airy feeling. this is not what most people want these days based on the small slit windows and cave like interiors on most new cars and SUVs.

Powertrain performance

The standard Pop, Sport, or Easy Fiat 500 all use the same power train; a 1.4 liter of 101hp and 98 of torque. This is perfectly fine with either transmission and I can keep up with normal traffic - but not the macho folks that run hard from one red light to the next. The base engine with the manual gearbox is a fun around town or back roads car! You can run hard and have a lot of fun with it yet not kill yourself easily. The base engine with auto is less fun. It makes the car feel dead and slow, not light and perky. A sad combination in my view. When you factor in the steep hit in fuel economy of the auto, it is not something I would do again! Surprisingly, the auto is faster to sixty than my manual Pop. If you nail your foot to the floor from a stop, the transmission does a great job of running thru the gears at redline without your doing anything. Buy the way, this 500c has seen 105 in fifth of six gears when I ran out of safe, empty road. It will stay with highway traffic at 80mph all day if you want, but if you keep it between 70-75mph it gets a true 40mpg,

Fuel economy

My auto trans Fiat 500c gets 35mpg average over the first year of ownership (done on my computer spreadsheet, not from my head or the car trip compute). I do not do a lot of true city driving (I live in a small town of less than 10,000 folks) nor a lot of true highway driving at high speeds (75-80mph). But when I do go on two or three hour dives (one way) the car does better getting 40mpg. My normal drive one way is 19 to 20 miles with 16 complete stops required (yes, I make full stops not "roll-thru"). On these drives the car computer shows an average of 34-36mpg and that proves to be pretty accurate so I stopped working mpg on a separate spreadsheet. It does take premium fuel so there are better cars for pure mpg than this. But you do get some style for the extra cost.

Why Not the 2013 Fiat 500?

Cargo capacity

My 500c has the optional Beats audio system. This is NOT a great sound system and not worth the money for sure. It takes up a lot of real estate in what is already a joke of a trunk. There is very little storage space in the car since the desgn of the folding cloth top means you lose the practical hatchback as well as extra trunk space. What little is left is hard to use and reach. The rear seats fold down but the pass thru is small and therefore pretty useless. I have a 500 hatchback and I have almost never lacked space when needed. This 500c is the opposite. I am always short on space or forced to dump things behind the front seats that are then a pain to get back out! I like the open air motoring of the 500c but would not do it again. To many compromises.

Dealer practices

I really like most things about both my Fiat 500's. What I hate most are the arrogant people at the Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, and Jeep dealerships. the fact that you own some tiny car seems to only raise their ire and flagrant distain for you as a customer. If you are not "in the bucket" to the dealership to the tune of forty K or so, they feel duty bound to make it up in service costs. Like $50 oil changes, hundreds for tire rotation, and every repair is at least $500 if they can con you into it being "not covered" when it clearly is! I have not seen such terrible sales and service people in thirty plus years, and thought most of them were dead and gone when American Motors went bust. Nope! They survived and went to work at Chrysler/Dodge.

Depreciation

Between the poor reviews non-owners provide and the bigger is better mentality of most Americans, there really is no resale value in a used Fiat. You can spend over $30K in list price for a 500 but you would be nuts to do so. If you can not get $3-5K off a new one, do not buy it, the dealers are forced to take some as the parent Fiat company runs Chrysler these days and they are dumping them at the end of every month. Even if you get a good deal, it is not a good deal due to the high loss of value the moment you sign the papers. Buying a used one from a private party is slightly smarter but even then the only way to limit your expense or asset loss is to drive it till the wheels fall off and hope that is well past the warranty period when it gets too bad to keep up.

Brand reputation & image

One of the really sad things about the Fiat 500 is the way FCA is handling the brand here in the US. The Fiat 500 is actually many different cars, some good and some not good at all, but to most American buyers a Fiat 500 is just a Fiat 500. Nobody really knows if you are talking about the 500 hatchback (a true retro economy car), the 500L sedan/wagon (the dual clutch gearbox has not worked any better for Fiat than for Ford in the Focus/Fiestia), the Abarth (a real fun car for drivers only), or the 500X (Built on Jeep running gear With more style than off-road performance). Only the Abarth stands slightly apart since it is devoid of Fiat badges and costs a good deal more than most other "500" models.

Conclusion

You should buy this car if you like standing out in a crowd not for your smarts as much as just dying to be away from the crowd of sheep the average American has become in most everything - not just vehicle choices. It is different and you have to be willing to BE different to enjoy one. The rewards are a great fun car that is surprisingly capable in most ways.

You should not buy this car if you are happy with your Corolla, Civic, Versa, Kia, or whatnot.

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