The 2018 Fiat 500 remains a stylish small car with a unique look, long list of available features and a robust color palette both inside and out. Although not big on passenger space, the 500 makes an ideal urban commuter. It’s fun to drive, sips fuel and doesn’t cost a lot to own.
You'll Like The 2018 FIAT 500 If...
If you’re looking for an inexpensive subcompact that doesn’t look like an inexpensive subcompact, the 2018 Fiat 500 makes an excellent choice. Bright colors and plentiful options make the 500 more appealing than the Honda Fit or Smart ForTwo, and it undercuts the Mini Cooper’s price by a few thousand dollars.
You May Not Like The 2018 FIAT 500 If...
The 500 isn’t as roomy or comfortable as a Honda Fit or Nissan Versa Note, and its reliability and resale figures also lag behind most rivals. The 500 doesn’t offer advanced driver assists like collision avoidance or adaptive cruise control, and offset crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are rather poor.
For 2018, the 500 gets a bump in horsepower thanks to the addition of a turbocharger on every model. Pop and Lounge models gain performance brakes and suspension, 16-inch wheels, a rearview camera, a rear spoiler, ground effects and fog lights.
Fiat’s subcompact 500 for 2018 is roomier up front than you might expect, and just as tight in back as it looks. The interior style lives up to the promise of the quirky but fashionable exterior, and we found the materials, build quality and seat comfort impressive for a car with a starting price around $17,500. As the athlete of the group, the Fiat 500 Abarth offers aggressively bolstered front seats, exclusive red stitching and a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel.
The subcompact 2018 Fiat 500 is a modern interpretation of 1957's tiny, rear-engined original. Although larger than the original, it's still seven inches shorter than today's Mini Cooper. The iconic sloping rear end embodies the 500’s personality, though it limits rear headroom. The Fiat 500 is available in a stretched 4-door model that alleviates many of the coupe’s shortcomings. The 500 is offered in Pop, Lounge and Abarth guises, all available in coupe or convertible form. The 500e electric is offered in coupe form only. Wheels, fascias and body trim differentiate the models.
With its newfound horsepower and lightweight body, the 2018 Fiat 500 is a much more enjoyable ride. The base 500 is no GTI (you can look to the 160-horsepower Abarth for that), but the 500 is now a competent road car capable of making short work of onramps, lane crossings and nervous passing maneuvers. The 500’s small size makes it ideal for city driving, and because it takes up no more than 140 inches, finding a parking space is child’s play. The 500’s steering is quick and precise and its new suspension provides less lean and bounce while still keeping the ride fairly comfortable. The 500’s excellent 5-speed manual is wonderful, but we know the realities of bumper-to-bumper traffic make the 6-speed automatic a more logical choice. However, if the enthusiast-oriented Abarth is more your thing, the manual is a must. For the environmentalist, Fiat builds the 500e, an electric version that can travel up to 87 miles on a single charge.
The 2018 Fiat 500 lineup sees a slight bump in pricing this year, with the Pop starting at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) right around $17,500. The Lounge climbs to just over $21,000, while the convertible version adds about $1,500 to any trim. The Abarth starts right around $21,750, a gain of just $750 over last year’s car. The California-and-Oregon-only 500e electric tops out around $34,240. However, incentives and tax credits can trim that price substantially. The 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop starts right around $22,500 and can top $35,000. Fiat includes a Mini-matching 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty with roadside assistance and a 3-year/36,000-mile no-cost maintenance package. Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price should reflect real-world transaction prices close to MSRP, so be sure to check them out before you purchase. Five-year projected residual values for the 500 fall considerably short of the Mini’s, but remain slightly higher than the Ford Fiesta’s.
For 2018 the Fiat 500 Pop includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 16-inch aluminum wheels, a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, cruise control plus power windows, power locks and power heated side mirrors. Also standard are Bluetooth, a rearview monitor and a 6-speaker 5-inch touch-screen audio system with a USB port for portable music players. The range-topping Abarth variant includes a 276-watt Alpine audio system, 16-inch hyper-black wheels, sport-tuned suspension and a leather-wrapped dashboard. Standard safety features include seven airbags and hill-start assist to help prevent vehicle rollback on steep inclines.
A fully loaded 2018 Fiat 500 Lounge includes a 6-speed automatic transmission, leather seats, heated front seats, rear parking sensors, navigation, Beats by Dr. Dre audio system and automatic climate control. The 500 Pop Cabrio Sport package adds 16-inch hyper-black alloy wheels and black-trimmed lights, while the Popular Equipment package brings dual-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The mighty Abarth offers larger 17-inch wheels, 2-tone leather-trimmed seats and your choice of either white or red body-side stripes.
INTELLIGENT POWER CONVERTIBLE TOP
Unlike most convertible tops that fully retract into a trunk well, the 2018 Fiat 500c utilizes a canvas roll-top that exposes occupants to the outside world without removing the protective metal frame around the windows and doors. The roll-top design permits operation even at speeds up to 60 mph.
There aren’t many nimble, lightweight cars that also offer the power of a turbocharged engine. The GTI and Mini have both grown in size and price, and the feisty Ford Fiesta ST is soon to be no more. In the 500 Abarth, you‘ll find an affordable performer that loves the curves.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive 2018 Fiat 500 subcompact is motivated by a small but sophisticated 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine using Fiat’s patented MultiAir technology, which varies intake-valve timing and lift. Fiat tunes this engine to two power levels: The 500 Pop and Lounge get a 135-horsepower version, while the Abarth cranks out 160 horsepower. The 500e electric is rated for 111 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. With the exception of the 500e, all of the 500s offer the choice of a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. We like the automatic for its extra ratio and responsive shifting though it does cut fuel efficiency by more than 10 percent. The 500e uses a single-speed automatic.
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Pop, Lounge)
135 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
150 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400-4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/33 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Abarth)
160 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/33 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
Permanent magnet electric motor (500e)
147 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 122/103 mpg equivalent
EPA range on a full charge: 87 miles
In a market growing increasingly difficult for small cars, the 2018 Fiat 500 and 500c cabrio try to lure buyers by offering a turbocharged engine on every model. Unfortunately for Fiat, buyers continue to gravitate toward compact SUVs, especially as gas remains relatively cheap. In its favor, this new 500 has a unique look, a bold color palette and plenty of available features. Although not big on passenger space, the 500 makes an ideal urban commuter. It’s fun to drive, sips fuel and doesn’t cost a lot to own. With the Ford Fiesta soon to be exiting the stage and the Mini Cooper getting up in price, the 500 Pop, Lounge and sporty Abarth trim may yet be able to exploit this niche market.