For the latest model year, Fiat has deep-sixed the 500's naturally-aspirated engine. It's now all turbo, all the time.
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 an available Bose energy Efficient Series audio system.
The 500 is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder gasoline engine that produces 135 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 150 pound-feet of torque between 2,400 and 4,200 rpm. Front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual transmission come standard, and a six-speed automatic is available at an extra cost.
Fuel economy checks in at 28 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg in a mixed cycle with the manual transmission. Going automatic lowers mileage to 24, 32, and 27, respectively.
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, 16-inch alloy wheels, 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.
The 500's most direct rival is the MINI Hardtop. It's more expensive than the Fiat. It's also bigger, newer, and markedly better to drive.