By on September 16, 2016

2016 Fiat 500 1957 Edition, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

It’ll be easier to get into a Fiat 500 next year, but the question is: does anyone want to?

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has cut prices and reduced the number of trim lines of the 2017 500 as the tiny runabout’s popularity wanes, Bloomberg reports.

With no new models in the pipeline until a refreshed 500X in 2019, Fiat needs to do something to lure back buyers. A greater level of content, plus a price cut, is the only card Fiat has to play.

For 2017, a base “Pop” 500 will set buyers back $14,995, a grand lower than before, while the mid-range Lounge model sees its price slashed by $2,000. The turbocharged Abarth model sees the biggest reduction, with $2,580 erased from the sticker price.

Fiat hasn’t revealed if the 500X small crossover will see a similar price cut, but did say the mid-range version of the ungainly 500L wagon will see a 1-percent cut and additional high-end content. That means heated leather seats, an upgraded audio system and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with navigation.

Across the board, the brand is simplifying its lineup to three trims per model. The automaker brought some fresh blood to its lineup with the 124 Spider earlier this summer, but its existing models are sliding, pulling the brand down.

According to TTAC’s Timothy Cain, “Fiat USA is on track to sell 35,000 new vehicles in 2016. As the lineup grows, Fiat’s total U.S. volume shrinks. Fiat sold more than 40,000 new vehicles in each of the previous four years, including an all-time high of 46,121 in 2014 and 43,772 in 2012, when the 500 was the only car in the fleet. Year-over-year, sales Fiat’s U.S. sales have declined every month this year.”

Fiat’s clientele, at an average of 45 years of age, is younger than the industry average of 49. The automaker has been criticized for not offering a lineup that appeals to U.S. consumers.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

129 Comments on “Fiat Slashes Trims and Prices as Buyers Vacate Brand...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Why do I have this irrational desire for a 500X in that orange-red color?

    • 0 avatar
      MPAVictoria

      Because they are kinda cool looking! I think they are way nicer than their platform mate the Jeep Renegade.

      I also secretly lust after a 500 as a second car for city driving and getting to work.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I want a 500X Pop (1.4T/M) and a 500C (not the Abarth). I can’t help it.

    • 0 avatar
      northeaster

      FM, I imagine it’s because you’re not old enough to have owned a Fiat 128.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I owned a 74 128SL in college. It had all the beauty, character, and reliability of an Italian supermodel.

        One year was enough of that.

        Decades later, I’m ready to try again. :)

        • 0 avatar
          Willyam

          I had a 79 X1/9. Gorgeous in brown/tan and mostly immobile.

          I keep sitting in Abarths, just KNOWING I would be the exception and get the totally reliable one…

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            I bought a new 2012 Abarth in May of that year and now have around 35k totally trouble-free miles. I absolutely love the car. I also own an ’81 X1/9 with 203k miles, still running strong and looking great. I take good care of my cars.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yeah, if you fix everything that breaks, they’ll last forever.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Mine’s well sorted… it ‘s the sort of 35 year old car that you like to maintain, because it is so much fun to drive. If you haven’t driven one, you haven’t the first clue. Not that many other cars that can be said of, but maybe you own one and aren’t just popping off.

          • 0 avatar

            “yeah, if you fix everything that breaks, they’ll last forever.”

            Many Russians also own decades old Zhigulis a.k.a. Fiat-124 exactly for same reasons. And they fix thing every few thousand km. Never could imagine proud people of rich and prosperous (alas in the past) USA would do the same thing.

        • 0 avatar
          bills79jeep

          Just bought a ’75. It has its gremlins, but doesn’t seem to be any worse than any other 41 year old car.

          If you’re handy with a wrench and only want it as a fun car, go for it. One big thing they have going for them is that they are cheap. And, they are done depreciating.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Easy to work on and most parts are cheap. I bought one of my sons a ’76 X1/9 back in 2001 during his junior year in high school. It had been owned by an older gentleman in Santa Cruz and had been maintained by Fiat specialist Chris Obert. My son’s first car and he still owns it… along with a 2014 500GQ that he’s pretty much converted to an Abarth, only with a tad softer suspension. That’s a sweet little car, with Alcantara upholstery and top down driving.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          YOLO, go for it.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      New FIATs are pretty good reliability-wise. I used to have 2012 500 for about year and a half (had new baby and had to get bigger car). Honestly, it was a very good car, if size worked for you. Still probably best Bluetooth phone connection i’ve had in any of the cars. I had it for ~30K miles with 0 issues, other than slight paint peel in one tiny spot on the bumper. Those engines/manual transmissions are great. Seating position got knocked for being upright, but i actually liked “sitting on the chair” position, instead of semi-recline in so many other cars.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        “Seating position got knocked for being upright, but i actually liked “sitting on the chair” position, instead of semi-recline in so many other cars.”

        Yes, same here. The Taurus frequently gets knocked for the same thing, but I much prefer the seating position in my parent’s 2012 than I did their previous Grand Marquis. You don’t get tired and achy nearly as quickly, and for someone with a bad back like mine, that is a huge plus.

        Since you’ve said that, I should try a 500. I haven’t sat in one yet, maybe its worth considering.

      • 0 avatar

        Drive it for 10 years or say 140K miles – they we can talk. If you compare to Russian cars – its another story.

  • avatar
    pragmatic

    Well even Yugo had trouble at $3990. Who would want these at any price.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I sold Yugos. Fiats are not Yugos.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      Were GM/Fords/Mopars that much more reliable in 70s? Were Hyundais that much more reliable in 80s/90s? I don’t understand bringing up 40-50 year old history as an indicator of current reliability. Yes, you got screwed on your Fiat in 70s and want nothing to do with brand anymore. I can say same thing about Hyundai, with which i had terrible experience in mid 90s. I won’t buy that brand again, however i think they make fairly decent cars now.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it’s not even that, it’s that “unreliable cars” now are “unreliable” because the check engine light came on once, or the infotainment touchscreen didn’t respond to my tap. Or my phone didn’t connect. Up to the ’80s, an unreliable car wouldn’t start, or would strand you after puking its coolant or vapor-locking. Practically nobody buying a car made in the 2000s has an “unreliable car.”

        • 0 avatar
          Kenn

          There may not be many cars, these days, that strand you beside the road, but a car that requires returning repeatedly to the dealer for either drivability or electronic problems is quite inconvenient-enough to qualify as unreliable.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’ve had my Fiat 500 for nearly two years and it’s only been back to the shop once… for a cracked sunroof frame. It was a one-day fix and works perfectly because it was a simple, plug-and-play unit.

            Again, these things are not like their predecessors. They’re quick; they’re agile; they’re fun and they’re remarkably economical, getting at least 50% better economy than almost any larger car with the exception of a battery-electric and some hybrids.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Fiat gets poor rankings in both JD Power and Consumer Reports surveys.

        They are certainly more reliable now than they were 30 years ago. But so is everything else, and Fiat is still below-average.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          And if you bother to read the disclaimers on BOTH reports, the ratings come on non-essential and typically trivial stuff that few people even care about. To most drivers today, just as it was for my own father, a car is “just transportation”. We, here, are enthusiasts in one way or another so some things mean more to us than they would to others. But when it really gets down to the ‘nitty gritty’, it all comes down to whether it can get you there and back every time and both JD Power and CR have said these cars can do it.

          Today’s Fiat is not your grandfather’s Fiat.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Your ability to be consistently wrong is quite remarkable. Virtually nothing that you say is correct, ever, and this is no exception.

            If you had two brain cells to rub together or a gram of integrity, then you’d feel embarrassed for your failure to get anything right. It must be a disease that you can’t cure.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Like I was wrong about the popularity of mid-sized pickup trucks?

            The simple fact that you have to revert to personal insults shows I’m right.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Four brands of midsize trucks can’t outsell the Ram and barely outsell the Camry. The industry sells more minivans in the US than it does midsize trucks. But you go ahead and keep convincing yourself that you actually know what you’re talking about.

            The JD Power survey has no disclaimers. Fiat 500 reliability gets 2 stars out of 5, its lowest ranking. Consumer Reports puts it below average. Sorry if reality doesn’t work for you.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Vulpine appears to be under the impression that if he writes something, then it must be true.

          • 0 avatar
            GeneralMalaise

            Well said, Vulpine. Having the facts to back one’s opinion is a problem to some.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s simply a fact that the Fiat 500 gets a bottom-tier reliability ranking from JD Power.

            I wouldn’t expect a half-wit Mopar fanboy to do something as simple as look it up on the JD Power website, as “intelligent Mopar fanboy” would be an oxymoron.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @PCH101: Straw man arguments are far more telling about the one making the arguments than they are about the victim of such arguments. I suggest you keep that in mind.

            As to my being a “Mopar Fanboy” (yet another straw man), I’m not. Not in the sense you want to believe. I used to be a very strong GM “fanboy” because I felt GM could do no wrong with their cars; every one I owned was solid and a pleasure to drive… except one that destroyed its engine when a nylon timing gear shredded. My last GM vehicle was a 2002 Saturn Vue that carried me through to 2012, when I sold it to my father-in-Law, who drove it another three years before trading it on a newer Jeep.

            However, GM also screwed the pooch by killing two of its legacy and VERY popular brands; one with carbon-copy models almost impossible to tell one from its next-smaller sibling and the other by flat out destroying what originally made the brand great. The third brand, Saturn, had an incredibly loyal following because the cars seemed to last forever. As of today, GM doesn’t make a single model that appeals to me, though if I were forced to choose I would probably choose the Canyon.

            Ford has never managed to make me happy–EVER! I’ll admit I’m currently enjoying my ’97 Ranger for what it is but even it has its issues with poor design and reliability despite being practically showroom-new with only 23K miles on it. That Ranger is getting better as far as driveability, but certain design factors are not helping it as they seem made to generate unnecessary repairs. Funny thing is that it is sitting nose-to-nose with an ’04 F-150 and it looks tiny by comparison as the F-150 is more than a foot taller, a foot or more wider and at least three feet longer. One Ford I owned back in the ’80s got to where it was costing me $400/month on repairs alone, not even counting the fact that it got abysmal fuel mileage.

            I’m now on only my third Chrysler/FCA product. One, Daimler-designed, has had very real quality issues that come down to the materials chosen and outsourced electronics. Those problems now seem to be permanently fixed–AFTER FCA went out of its way to resolve them. Even then, I had to go around the dealership’s “Service Consultant” to talk to the technician directly to get that issue resolved once and for all. (FCA Corporate suggested I do so.) My first was a ’79 Dodge Aspen with a 318 c.i.d. V8 under the hood (solidly reliable engine) and my third is, of all things, a Fiat 500 which I never expected to like. I came into the brand highly skeptical, especially after that second vehicle, but so far FCA has proven the better-managed brand, even if their dealerships are thieves (I can only name one exception… so far.)

            So no, I’m not a “fanboy”. I came in with healthy skepticism and have been impressed by their new products across the board.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Aside from making it clear that you are obtuse and verbose, did you hope to prove anything with that last post?

            I didn’t bother reading it, since I’m sure that it would have been a waste of time. The fact remains that Fiat is ranked toward the bottom of reliability surveys, irrespective of the verbosity, obtuseness and earnestness of its fanboys. If you don’t like it, then go complain to Auburn Hills.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Gee, that lends itself so well to a conga line of mullets and beer bellies.

            Half-wit Mopar Faaaan BOY!

            Half-wit Mopar Faaaan BOY!

            I haz music in mah soul.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Pch,

          As you enjoy perusing JD Power surveys, you’ve probably noted that Fiat is mid-pack (just above Nissan) on their 3-year survey.

          Typically, the 90-day initial quality survey is a rating of minor issues and/or dealership satisfaction. That’s why it highlights issues that have to do with entertainment systems (which are usually very complex).

          The 3-year survey is probably a better representation of mechanical reliability.

          As you are a fan of statistics, you have probably also noted that the range from best to worst is quite small, and the difference between mid-pack brands is statistically insignificant.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/198053/jdpower-2016-vds-022416_large.jpg

            Aside from Ram, not exactly a sterling showing by FCA. Although you are correct that Fiat beat Nissan.

            How about GM though? Everything above average and Buick over Toyota.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A completely inaccurate post above.

            The Fiat 500 is NOT mid-pack. Reliability gets 2 stars out of five, on a scale that has no 1-star ratings.

            In the 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study, the Fiat brand was NOT mid-pack. The industry average is 152 problems per 100 vehicles; Fiat had 171. Of 32 brands on the list, Fiat was 26th.

            In the 2015 Vehicle Dependability Study, Fiat was dead last.

            Come on, folks, this stuff is easy to find. Don’t comment if you can’t get it right.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Pch,

            You skipped over my comment about what is a statistically significant difference.
            A difference of 10 points on that ranking means very little.

            Note that every car brand that is above average sells at much higher prices, save for Toyota and Honda. One could argue that Chevy is not a premium brand, but their most popular product is the Silverado which sells well north of $40K to consumers (I don’t know if JD Power tracks fleet satisfaction).

            The bulk of the small car market ranks between 161 and 181 problems-per-hundred, and Fiat is in the middle of that. They aren’t close to Lexus and Porsche, but they are very close to a lot of brands that actual consumers might reasonably compare them to.

            The 2015 numbers are less significant. The brand was exactly 3 years old at the time. I’m surprised they found enough owners that had 3 years of experience with the product.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Fiat is in the bottom quartile of the 2016 VDS (3-year survey.)

            That is not midpack. Three-quarters of brands outperform it.

            Fiat was at the absolute bottom of the 2015 VDS. Not only was it not close to midpack, but every single other car brand in the survey outperformed it.

            Meanwhile, Consumer Reports expects Fiat 500s to have 78% more problems than the average car.

            Don’t make stuff up.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Pch,

            Apples, oranges, look it up…

            Fiat is mid-pack among non-premium brands.
            People who spend two to five times more money expect and get better reliability (except for Land Rover customers), but that just shows that you get what you pay for.

            You can claim that Fiat’s four point deficit to Scion is significant, but it really isn’t from a statistical standpoint.

            Let me repeat: there is very little actual difference between Fiat’s score of 171 and Scion’s 167 or Nissan’s 173. Even Kia at 153 isn’t much better.

            What’s notable about the 2015 survey (rating 2012 cars) is the improvement Fiat made in their first year. The 2015 survey would have covered the first few US sales for the brand.
            Maybe you want to go back in time and shout from the rooftops that one shouldn’t buy a first-year brand if reliability is their major concern (you probably did, I don’t remember), but I doubt that you would be telling first adopters anything they don’t already know.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            “People who spend two to five times more money expect and get better reliability (except for Land Rover customers), but that just shows that you get what you pay for.”

            Fact is people who spend 2 to 5 times more often aren’t willing to admit that their status symbol is not reliable. Meanwhile the buyers of cheap automobiles are happy to tell you what a POS the car that they have trashed and neglected is.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            In the 2015 VDS, Fiat was ranked last. That isn’t the middle of anything.

            In the 2016 VDS, Fiat had 14 mainstream brands ranked above it and five mainstream brands ranked below it.

            The Fiat 500 gets below-average reliability scores for every model year in the JD Power survey. It also gets much worse than average reliability results in Consumer Reports.

            Enough already. You’re entirely full of crap, and anyone with basic literacy skills can see that you have no grasp of what “statistical significance” or “midpack” are.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @heavy handle
            They do include ” dealership satisfaction ” a bizarre measure,as regards quality of the vehicle itself

  • avatar
    JimC2

    Maybe they could briefly boost these things’ popularity with a short lived TV series centered around anthropomorphic versions of these cars. I’m thinking a forgettable Saturday morning cartoon, poorly written and poorly produced, something that would be a blatant 23-minute commercial behind a thin veneer of recycled storylines of archtype characters in everyday situations… except the characters would be variations of the Fiat 500 and other automobiles!

    Do I come up with great ideas or what?

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The 500 is rental car fodder in its home turf. Fiat never stood a chance here :(

    • 0 avatar
      JimC2

      It might be rental car fodder on its home turf, but stateside it is elusive, like the “Eleanor” of rental cars…

    • 0 avatar
      5280thinair

      I was in northern Italy a year ago, and 500s were *everywhere*. It was probably the most common car I saw there, and many were clearly driven by locals. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are common as rental cars, but the car’s popularity in its homeland goes much deeper than that. For that matter, I saw a surprising number of “Nuova” 500s (the 1957-1975 model of the Cinquecento that the modern version is styled after) still in use, two-cylinder engines clattering along.

      My rental was an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a pretty car with an absurdly large turning circle. It was a royal pain to maneuver in the tight confines typical of Italian towns. Strange for a car designed and built in that country.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I still giggle like a schoolgirl when I hear the exhaust note of an Abarth. But given I am not even remotely independently wealthy, have no winning lottery ticket or am the recipient of a small GoFundMe page, having a toy is completely out of the question (well, that…and having recently adopted a 10-year old…). They aren’t overly practical and make little sense here in America, but dang it would I love a Grigio over red Abarth sitting in my garage.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Third article in as many days about an automaker cutting down on trim lines. I’m not happy about the prospect of fewer options, but hopefully they will be offering more content for the money. VW seems to be, with the GTI.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    What a mess Fiat has become in the US. FCA completely wasted a golden opportunity to take-back some of the import market (something that neither Ford nor GM has ever managed to do).

    The 500 sold very well, and is still selling well for a 5-year-old specialty model, but then they flat-out refused to bring-in anything that would build a brand.

    What’s with the moronic obsession with making every new product look like a deformed 500? Because everyone wants to buy an ugly expensive car that looks like a cheap car…

    Then they priced the 500X like an Audi Q3 (if you want automatic, AWD, and a decent stereo).

    I don’t think it’s too late for them, but they need to swallow their pride and ship us a small pickup and a cheap/honest compact.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      I keep seeing the Tipo on their FB page, and it might work, particularly since Dodge and Chrysler no longer have a C-segment car to sell. So long as they keep the redesign investment on it to the minimum necessary to sell it here, just to give Fiat-Alfa dealers something else to sell until the Giulia and Stelvio show up.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        @npaladin2000

        The Tipo is on sale as the new Dodge Neon in Mexico. It may make its way across the border. If it were the lowest price C segment car, undercutting everyone else, it could do well. If the Dart was stupid cheap without incentives, it probably would’ve done better.

        I think they need to make the Toro more Ram-like in appearance and sell it here. The Ram 700 in Mexico still looks too much like a Fiat sitting next to Ram 1500s. While they’re at it, the ProMaster doesn’t have to be so damned ugly, does it?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      “something that neither Ford nor GM has ever managed to do).”

      Is it fun to pretend facts don’t exist?

      Fusion competes very well with import-brand midsize cars, and although it doesn’t outsell all of them, it isn’t far behind and its safe to say it does indeed take a decent portion of their market share.

      GM has the biggest selling group of brands in the US, and Ford is the best selling brand overall.

      “Oh but its FLEET SALES!”
      Yep, Ford, Ram and GM trucks and vans do dominate fleet sales. That’s because their products are reliable, durable and cheap to repair/maintain. Camry, Corolla and Altima do dominate rental fleet sales, if that makes you feel better.

      “They have full size trucks that carry their brands!”
      Toyota and Nissan have full size trucks, it isn’t Ford, GM or FCA’s fault that they sell a small percentage of what F-Series, Ram and Silverado/Sierra sell…except for the fact that they collectively build better trucks, so I guess it is their fault. Lol.

      • 0 avatar

        JohnTaurus you are so right – last several years I was offered only Japanese brands when rented cars – Mazda, Toyota but most of the time – Nissan (Altima or Maxima, but mostly Altima). The thing is that half of population of USA, especially on the coasts, hates anything American.

    • 0 avatar

      I am quite sure there is a not invented here aspect. GM never really supported the Catera. Ford always tried to upsell you to Taurus away from Contour. Buick Opel ?

      If I were a dealer, I’d be wondering where my sport sedan, sports car, mass market four door (ok, high end mass), and lux mama-trux is …. I’d be done being Mini in a Tutu….I’d want actual product to fill my million dollar showroom.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      “What’s with the moronic obsession with making every new product look like a deformed 500? Because everyone wants to buy an ugly expensive car that looks like a cheap car…
      Then they priced the 500X like an Audi Q3 (if you want automatic, AWD, and a decent stereo).”

      Personally, I don’t want to know what an Audi Q3 is. However, I looked it up and the Fiat 500x in mid-level trim and AWD AND option package 4 still comes in at a full $5,000 LESS than a base Q3 in fwd according to their respective build sites. And I’m willing to wager that Fiat’s 9-speed automatic and 2.4L engine offers better on-road and off-road performance than the Q3’s 2.0L 6-speed. If you ask me, you’re just paying for the brand with Audi. It doesn’t even have a rear-view camera listed and yet it’s a full five grand more expensive than a 500x Trekking AWD.

      If you’re going to argue pricing in a comparison, at least get your numbers right!

  • avatar

    “No, darling, don’t look at it. Just keep walking.”

    “But Xavier, it’s going to be so alone here.”

    “It’ll be fine, my dear. The palms, the contemporary architecture…it’ll think it’s still home.”

    “But the help’s not even here yet. Manuel always kept it so clean.”

    “It’s for the best. No–I said don’t look! If we don’t see it, maybe it will ignore us.”

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I still gotta love and salute any company that offers body-colored steelies with dog dishes.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Side note in Fiat’s defense: they are still getting $5000 more for the 500 than anybody else can get for such a small car in the US. The engineering and tooling was paid-off years ago, so they probably make a huge margin.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    What’s interesting about this article is that it doesn’t dig deep enough into why the brand’s sales are so far down. Go to Tim Cain’s site and you’ll figure it out pretty quickly – the 500 and 500L are down, big time. The 500X actually appears to be holding its’ own, which is pretty remarkable given how badly the rest of the brand is doing.

    But the 500 coupe needs a redesign – badly (it had already been on the market for years when it came here five years ago).

    What this brand needs, probably, is for Marchionne to figure out who’ll be doing FCA’s small car production, and get them on a 500 replacement.

    I also see a niche possible for these guys with compact performance cars. GTIs, WRXs, and Focus/Fiesta STs are selling in decent numbers. Fiat has a decent rep for performance cars, and the 124 should be a solid seller. Abarth everything! Wouldn’t be a bad way to establish a beachhead.

    • 0 avatar
      npaladin2000

      I’m not sure they need to Abarth everything, that might dilute both Abarth and Alfa. They need to kill the 500L (preferably with fire) rather than make an ABarth version. I’d love to see a 500x Abarth version but rumor is that it’s been killed off already, maybe in favor of the Renegade Trackhawk (boooo!).

      Fiat just needs a couple of genericmobiles to serve the people looking for normalcy. The Giulia and Stelvio are on the way, that’ll help add product to dealer lots soon.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Fix it again, Tony… over and over…

    A friend owns a 500 and says it’s a blast to drive, but it has befuddled him with problems and is trying to sell it but no one wants to buy it.

    I wonder why.

    I was quite skeptical when Fiat returned to the U.S. market and the record appears to have justified my doubts. That’s too bad, as I wanted them to succeed because they were a bit different from the pack.

    My biggest issue with the 500 is that it looks like a tin plate toy from the front end.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Fiat hasn’t had their trim levels and options right in the U.S. since they launched.

    When the 500 first got to showrooms, they were loaded up with expensive Lounge models that only came with automatics. Their sales ended up being mostly lower-level manual transmissions. Duh, they were attracting Euro-intenders and at Lounge price levels there were simply better and more practical cars. Pop models were hard to come by and inventories were stacked up with overpriced cars.

    As for the L, a friend has one and loves it, but I think the styling just put off most potential buyers.

    The 500 Abarth is still the best grin-inducing car for the money, but I’m biased, I had one.

    Now the 500X is available, it looks good, but if one wants ANY options he’s stuck with the Chrysler 4 cyl and 9-speed auto. The 1.4T manual can’t be had even with AWD, unlike the Renegade which can be had in two trim levels and FWD or AWD with that engine.

    Who do they think their buyers are?

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I really like the 500 Abarth. Fun little car that I’d purchase used. I suppose that’s part of the problem. Another maybe the ADM stickers my local dealer has affixed to every new Abarth in inventory.

    Still, the Abarth would make a great around town car for me and I’m excited to drive the 124.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The picture looks like the oft-used illustration of a young couple, with the man signing the financing papers. They have turned their back on the Fiat, and are walking away.

    Or, they are oblivious pedestrians exploring a mid-century section of Los Angeles, and are about to be run over by a paid assassin in a speeding Fiat 500.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    I don’t like the general population to suffer but some time I wish gasoline would go back up to $3.50 to put FCA (including Jeeps and whatever SRT/Hellcat models they have) out of their misery. I agree wholeheartedly with Marchionne the auto industry has excess capacity so questionable companies like FCA need to go away.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Where is the 500 facelift that has been out in Europe for the past 2 years?

    Fiat still does not understand that to keep up with competitors you need to invest in facelifts and redesigns. This is especially true in the fast-moving US market.

    Aside from an updated colour display, the North American 500 has been stale since 2012.

    The current 500 has been sold in Eurasia since 2007. And it was great in 2007, but it’s nearly 2017 now.

    The 500L was introduced with awkward looks and the wrong automatic (DDCT) transmission, prejudicing most of its American market. A couple vocal users burning up their clutches further sealed its fate. Then Fiat introduced the 6AT and then let the model go stale. IMO this is actually Fiat’s most practical product and I actually have one, even with the DDCT.

    The 500X got a better introduction and is Fiat’s best hope at the moment. It looks good and has the right equipment at the right price. It is significantly less spacious than the 500L, however.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    With rebates, the 2016s are selling for way under these prices anyhow. I doubt the ATP will really change by much.

    Just like the Nissan Leaf, why buy a new one when nearly-new ones sell for 40% off?

    I will be tempted by the first 500c I see below $10k.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I want to say the last Consumer Reports I saw rated the Fiat 500 as the single most unreliable car you could buy according to their surveys.

  • avatar
    z9

    I love my 500e — for $129 a month lease, it’s an amazing deal. Obviously it’s not a car for a long-distance commute but for what we use it for it is perfect. Nothing has gone wrong except for occasionally having to “reboot” the electronics via disconnecting the 12V battery. Then it’s all good for another few months. And this hasn’t been needed since a recent software update. I’m 6’4″ and I have no problem fitting inside, except that for the minor annoyance that for first time ever in a car, the rear-view mirror doesn’t quite tilt high enough. There is great and unexpected luxury in a vehicle that fits in any parking space, leaves you massive amounts of room in your garage, and basically feels as if you could invite it inside for dinner.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      It’s such an amazing deal that Sergio would rather you not lease it at all.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/marchionne-claims-10000-loss-on-each-fiat-500e/

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Too bad the 500e is a compliance car. I’ve only seen a 500e once here in PA; it must have been towed here from a distant land.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The 500e is a peach. Compared to the gasoline 500, it rides better, handles better, is quieter, accelerates (much!!) faster, and can actually cost less to lease.

        Downsides: no DC quick charge option, so road trips are out of the question (like you’d want to do that in a 500 anyway); quirky under-baked software (it throws a temper tantrum if you power it down for only a few minutes—so you learn to lock it and leave it running while you go into 7-11)…and you can only buy it in California.

        Fiat goes to some lengths to keep it that way (threatens that they won’t service it outside California, won’t let you swap your lease to another person, etc.), but people find a way. Lurk on the Google 500e group you’ll see owners towing them out of state, used-EV dealers flatbedding off-lease ones out of state, etc. There’s even a guy importing crashed ones to Europe (because it’s legal to import a wreck), rebuilding them and getting them road-certified (because you can individually certify a car), and selling them…apparently there’s enough demand to justify this byzantine loophole-threading.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Personally, I’ll question the, “…accelerates (much!!) faster” statement; the base 101hp model already surprises a lot of people with how quickly it accelerates (when running on the recommended 90-octane fuel.)

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            Car & Driver clocked 0-60 at 9.9 seconds in the manual hardtop gas 500, 11.5 in the droptop automatic, and 8.4 in the electric.

            But that doesn’t capture the experience. Driving a 500e is like driving a 500 Abarth that’s stuck permanently in second gear, but without the noise. It’s a little pokey to 10mph, then crap-your-tweeds quick to 50 mph, and then peters out at highway speed.

            Or to put it another way: you’re driving a Hyundai Accent, which suddenly turns into a baby Lamborghini, which suddenly turns back into an Accent. In suburban traffic, you’re usually in the Lamborghini part of the powerband, in a tiny car that can dart into any opening in traffic. If that sounds like fun…it is!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            While C&D may have clocked the Fiat 500 at 9.9 seconds or worse, it certainly doesn’t feel it. I have a hardtop 500Pop with 6-speed manual and that thing squirts off the line. If mine clocks 11.5 seconds, to 60, I’ll be surprised.

            BUT… I will admit I haven’t driven a 500e; it’s not available here… yet. I do know people in much more powerful cars are surprised when the little Fiat is able to keep up with them (and often lead them) up to highway speed from a dead stop.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            What if it sounds like the opposite of fun?

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    My complaint with Fiat is that they made Americanized versions of other existing models with the ‘500’ look rather than just building American versions of those other models. I, for one, would FAR prefer a Fiat Panda Panda Cross ( http://www.fiat.com/# ) than a Fiat 500x, even though the two are essentially identical except for their nose clip. The 500L comes across more like the Qubo. Fiat has some nice looking models but relying on the 500 name and trying to make them all versions of the 500 isn’t helping them. And honestly, the Tipo is not a bad-looking little car.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      A new nose clip isn’t going to help 500X sales.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        If it carried the name Panda and stopped pretending to be a 500, then I believe sales would improve.

        • 0 avatar
          npaladin2000

          The only thing that will help 500x sales is to build more FIAT dealers. They sell more per dealer than Jeep does with the Renegade. That was expected and planned for, as there are many more Jeep dealers than FIAT studios.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I suggest you look at those sales numbers again. The Renegade is selling FAR more units than the Fiat 500.

            I would also note that SOME of those Fiat dealers •are• Jeep dealers. I am personally aware of at least two.

          • 0 avatar
            npaladin2000

            I’d suggest you take Reading Comprehension 101 again. I stated the 500x sells more units PER DEALERSHIP than the Renegade. That’s accurate. The Renegade does sell more total units, that was expected. But when you device the total units sold by the number of dealers in the US, you see that the Jeep dealers are selling fewer Renegades each than the FIAT dealers are selling 500x models. I think the numbers worked out to each FIAT dealer selling 5 500x per month while each Jeep dealer was only selling 3 Renegades per month. Something like that. I’d have to go back and check.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Ok, npaladin, let’s say I accept your figures. Might I note that as I said earlier, some of those Jeep dealerships are also Fiat Studios? They’re selling both vehicles off the same lot. Yet the Renegade is still selling more.

            I would also note that most, if not all of those Fiat “Studios” are the only one serving each of their respective cities and typically don’t have a competing dealership within 40-50 miles. Having more dealerships would increase costs and I will guarantee you that for every doubling of dealerships in a region, sales would probably only rise about 10% overall. Fiat is still, as proven by so many comments right in this forum, fighting an old reputation that refuses to die.

            But even worse, have you bothered to research Fiat in the rental car market? Want to know why you don’t see that many rental Fiats? Go take a look; I dare you.

            That’s right. Every single rental agency is renting the Fiat 500 Pop for almost FIVE TIMES the rate you pay for a Ford Fiesta! Again, it is an almost organized effort to BLOCK Fiat visibility from the general market and some of that is driven by FCA dealerships themselves. My local “Studio”, despite being physically separated from an associated Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership by more than a half-mile, has all of its service work done by that CDJ dealership instead, even though it has obvious service bays of its own. Moreover, that CDJ dealership itself goes out of its way to entice Fiat customers to trade in their 500(*) for one of the Jeep models instead. The problem is, corporate management has almost no control over how those dealerships operate and those dealerships are doing as much damage as the old reputation itself.

            FCA can’t, by law, open a company owned dealership anywhere in the US. Worse, they can’t even guarantee that a supposedly independent dealership is not associated with another FCA dealership guaranteed to reside within a mile or two of that Fiat studio. FCA’s hands are tied even tighter than Tesla’s, believe it or not. It’s going to take decades of hard work by Fiat itself to prove their vehicles are as good as the rest of FCA’s lineup before the average consumer realizes they have a viable alternative to those high-priced European imports from Germany and Sweden. GM gets away with it by re-badging their German-built imports as American brands; Opel died in the States as a brand just about the same time Fiat did. Renault and Peugeot from France disappeared just about the same time.

            All those brands carry the same stigma of “cheap and unreliable”, yet they’re still commonly seen all around the world, except here. Peugeot itself supports numerous highly competitive and race-winning WRC cars, yet the only ones we hear about in the US is the Japanese Subaru which goes so far as to add WRC to their sport model. Fiat has been in WRC pretty much all along, typically with the Punto model, not a 500L or X. Maybe not the fastest, but they almost always have at least one car in the field and the new 124 Abarth is slated to compete in ’17.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’d advise Sergio to convert the Dart to a Fiat “saloon”, but the factory that makes them is converting to all-Jeep assembly. Too bad the better Brazilian Fiat models are European compliant, or they could be imported to fill out the sparse Fiat lineup.

  • avatar
    plee

    Every time I see a Jeep Renegade on the road I would like to ask the owner if he knows that he is driving a Fiat 500. I bet Jeep salesmen never mention that fact. I do not think this is going to end well for the Renegade owners in the years to come, whether FCA is around or not. So many clueless buyers out there.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Just looked out my window, saw a 500 in this very color (with the matching dogdish hubcaps). It was the retractable roof version though. Saw another in olive green earlier too. Fiat really does have the best color palette, by far.

  • avatar
    GeneralMalaise

    The 500 is a niche car, not for everyone. But in my experience – and I’d say 95% of the owners that I know or come into contact share that experience – I am thoroughly pleased with my 2012. But it’s an Abarth… so there’s that. If I was looking to purchase something in the 500X segment, I wouldn’t hesitate for an instant to consider one.

  • avatar
    r129

    I just saw an ad in this Sunday’s paper from the local Fiat dealer advertising “last chance” deals on brand new 2015 Fiat 500s. Even the Mitsubishi dealer stopped advertising 2015s a couple of months ago.

  • avatar
    Cobrajet25

    I’d hoon the hell out of an Abarth…for about $18k new. But for $25k? Eh…I’ll take a Miata.

    I think the biggest problem is that the 500 is day-old-eggs. Cool in 2012, tired in 2016. Plus, “Old Fiat” is rearing it’s ugly head as far as build quality and reliability are concerned.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      ” Plus, “Old Fiat” is rearing it’s ugly head as far as build quality and reliability are concerned.”

      No, it isn’t. The new ones tend to be even better than the older ones.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    Now wait a minute—Fiat total sales haven’t topped 50,000 since FCA formed and are expected to reach only 35,000 this year while they sold almost 90,000 Dodge Darts last year and have sold 35,000 through August of this year. But the Dart has to go and Fiat gets to stay. Puzzling.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    I’ve owned my 500 Abarth since 2012. It been a better car than any of my MINI Coopers…2002 & 2004 both S’s. Broken windscreens, bad trans, bad motors, bad leather seats, bad dealers

    The few problems I’ve had with the car are 1. trunk shelf was cracked when I got the car 2. the dealer had to replace the Bluetooth. 3. three battery jackets… I’ve given up on that and now run without one. 4. the area between the glass of the sunroof and the top of the windscreen started to bubble so they replaced the whole sunroof. This cost me nothing nor did I have to fight them to get it done.

    Two other items have happened 1. the car stopped running. had it towed to the Chrysler dealership, my Fiat Studio closed, they found a loose something or other and I was out of the place in 1 hour. 2. if the outside temps are over 99º the sunroof pops up when I try and close it… take 5 tries to get to stay closed… but the new sunroof has seemingly fixed that.

    The car uses NO oil in between oil changes, gets mediocre MPG.. 26-28. My only real problems with the car is dealers closing and the car is worth nothing as far as resale oh and the leather seats are miserable for long runs.

    Was hoping for a 500 X Abarth but now not sure what to do.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Baskingshark: In the original Avengers TV series, Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) drove two Lotus Elans; a white one in her...
  • SoCalMikester: i bought a “broadway” JDM clip on convex mirror years ago and i love it. i can see out the...
  • Lorenzo: Do what I do – use the lighted mirror on the passenger side visor.
  • eyeofthetiger: I am happy that I managed to find one of the last 2017 1.0 Ecoboost Fiestas, and for a very nice...
  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT: Devilsrotary-rent a Ford Fusion, Sonata, or even a Chevy Malibu for your next road trip and come...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States