2012 Fiat 500
We’ll have to wait and see about its reliability, but the 2012 Fiat 500 is yet another stylish subcompact that proves that small can be cool. Pros: Adorable styling, highly customizable, fuel-efficient, surprisingly spacious for two people. Cons: Wait-and-see reliability, limited dealer network, less cargo room than rivals, cramped for four people. There was once a car so small it made the Mini seem like a Big. A car so cute the animators of the movie Cars did little to transform one into the adorable “Luigi.” A car that if you saw one on the streets, you’d swear it was a child’s scale replica. That car was the Fiat 500, or Cinquecento en Italiano, and it left such an indelible impression during its 18-year lifespan that Fiat performed a Mini-like resurrection to it three years ago. Now, with Fiat purchasing Chrysler last year, the 500 has been chosen to be the pioneer model to reintroduce the Fiat brand to North America.
The 2012 Fiat 500 certainly has the potential to be the next big (or rather, small) thing. While the original 500 was the size of a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, the nuova 500 looks far more like a regular car — albeit a tiny one. Compared to a Mini Cooper, it’s 6 inches shorter in overall length and 2 inches narrower. However, it is also more than 4 inches taller, allowing for an elevated seating position that not only increases visibility but creates more interior legroom. The result is a cabin that is surprisingly spacious, with more rear legroom on hand than its British nemesis (not that that’s saying much).