• (4.3) 78 reviews
  • MSRP: $4,988–$14,080
  • Body Style: Hatchback
  • Combined MPG: 31-34
  • Engine: 160-hp, 1.4-liter I-4 (premium)
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual w/OD
2013 FIAT 500

Our Take on the Latest Model 2013 FIAT 500

What We Don't Like

  • Highway ride
  • Body roll
  • Front-seat comfort
  • Visibility
  • Backseat and cargo room

Notable Features

  • New 500 Turbo version
  • Regular 500 and high-performance Abarth also available
  • Newly available Beats audio
  • Two-door hatchback or 500c (convertible)
  • Improved gas mileage on regular 500

2013 FIAT 500 Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

The 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo is the best chapter in an otherwise forgettable book — a compelling version of a flawed car.

Introduced for 2013, the new Turbo version of the Fiat 500 hits a middle ground between the base 500 and the rowdy Abarth. It's a strong version of the Fiat hatchback, which was introduced in early 2011, but before you pop the Prosecco on your Italian not-so-supercar, you'll want to consider the limitations.

The 500 Turbo is the fifth version of the 500, which now comes in Pop, Sport, Lounge, Turbo and Abarth editions. Though it's priced between the Lounge and Abarth, the Turbo's features align more closely with the non-turbo Sport trim. Compare the whole group with the 2012 Fiat 500 here, read our review of the 500 Abarth here or check out our take on the regular 500 here. The soft-top 500c (cabrio) does not offer a Turbo edition; we cover it separately on Cars.com.

Bite Without the Bark
Like the regular and Abarth versions, the 135-horsepower 500 Turbo takes off modestly. Once its turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder overcomes some initial turbo lag, however, acceleration feels lively and the car scoots along. The drivetrain's peak torque, 150 pounds-feet, comes from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm, and it suits the Fiat better than the regular 500's; that car's peaky, naturally aspirated 1.4-liter makes do with 34 fewer hp and 52 fewer pounds-feet of torque. The Turbo redlines 400 rpm earlier, at 6,500 rpm, but it rarely feels necessary to wind it out that far.

The Abarth scurries more quickly thanks to its 160 hp and 170 pounds-feet of torque, but it's accompanied by a blatty exhaust that will have the neighbors shaking their fists faster than you can say "noise violation." There's no blat from the Turbo, where Fiat showed welcome restraint.

The Turbo shares the Abarth's heavy-duty five-speed manual and 3.35:1 axle ratio. Some editors found the shifter clumsy; others liked the hefty throws and oversized leather handle. The gearing feels short enough that we didn't want for a six-speed manual — except on the highway, where the drivetrain buzzed loudly above 3,000 rpm. An extra gear also may have helped eke out better gas mileage than the Turbo's modest EPA-estimated 28/34/31 mpg (city/highway/combined). That's the same as the Abarth despite having less power, but it's ahead of the 29 mpg (combined) Mini Cooper S. It falls short of the base, manual 500's 34 mpg combined, as well as other entry-level hatchbacks, including the stick-shift, turbocharged Chevrolet Sonic (33 mpg). (Compare the group here.) Another pocketbook nuisance: In the Turbo, as in other 500s, premium gas is recommended for full performance.

The Turbo shares suspension calibrations and a similarly firm ride with the 500 Sport, though it's better than the brittle sport suspension in Mini's Cooper and Cooper S. With just a 90.6-inch wheelbase, Fiat's setup sometimes responds erratically to expansion joints and other bumps. The 500 Turbo's highway isolation trails the Abarth, whose unique selective-damping shock absorbers filter out broken pavement better. The Turbo bobs up and down. Other entry-level hatchbacks manage to settle into a highway groove reminiscent of bigger cars — the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic and Toyota Yaris come to mind. The 500 just isn't there.

It's no handling champ, either. The linear brakes and engaging steering hint at agility, but the top-heavy 500 still tends toward body roll, and limited seat bolstering heightens the sensation. One editor preferred the Turbo to the Abarth, which he deemed too top-heavy for its sporty pretensions, but no 500 can emulate the Cooper's go-kart fun. At least the Turbo improves on one area: the turning circle, which shrinks from the Abarth's SUVlike 37.6 feet to a city-friendly 30.6 feet — the same as other 500s.

Unresolved Issues
Check out our review of the regular 500 for a broader overview of the interior. Suffice it to say the Turbo has the same issues: B-pillars that barricade the view over your left shoulder, plus overstuffed seats with flimsy adjusters that left some editors awkwardly positioned against a steering wheel that didn't telescope. The tiny backseat sits ahead of an afterthought of a cargo area. The wipers have but a single intermittent speed (in a $22,350 car!) that's too fast for light rain. The optional heated seats have but one stage: scorching. The power window switches flank the gearshift, too far apart to operate at the same time with one hand.

A new, optional Beats stereo thumps out clear enough sound to overcome road and wind noise, but editors agreed the bass underwhelmed despite a trunk-mounted subwoofer. The radio has tiny buttons instead of simpler dials to surf stations and change volume, and the 500's standard Bluetooth streams only phone calls, not music. The latter convenience is fast becoming ubiquitous among new cars.

Inventive styling remains a hallmark of the car, with enough creativity to help you overlook stretches of old-school, subcompact-grade materials. The shelflike dashboard leaves plenty of room to stretch out, and there are strategic portions of door padding where knees come to rest.

Value & Safety
The 500 Turbo starts at $20,200, including destination. That's an affordable $2,000 upgrade over the similarly equipped 500 Sport and a worthwhile stopping point before the rambunctious 500 Abarth, which runs another $2,500 beyond the Turbo.

Standard equipment includes keyless entry, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a USB/iPod-compatible stereo, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise and audio controls. A moonroof, heated leather seats, Beats audio, automatic climate control and a plug-in TomTom navigation system are optional. Check all the boxes, and the Fiat 500 Turbo tops out around $25,000.

Top crash-test scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have earned the 500 status as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, but IIHS has yet to conduct its latest small-overlap frontal test on the car. (Read more about the test here.) In crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 500 earned four out of five stars overall. Seven airbags, all-disc antilock brakes and an electronic stability system are standard. Click here for a full list of safety features.

500 Turbo in the Market
The Fiat 500 ended 2012 with nearly 45,000 sales. That's better than the Toyota Yaris and Mazda2, and it's laudable for a brand that hadn't been in the U.S. market for nearly three decades. The Turbo should help those numbers, even if it steals Abarth customers — as it should. But I'm concerned that Fiat keeps adding editions to the 500 stable without fixing some of the car's inherent issues. Absent a number of much-needed improvements, I suspect all the variants under the sun won't prevent the 500 from being a flash in the pan.

Send Kelsey an email  


Consumer Reviews

(4.3)

Average based on 78 reviews

Write a Review

Good commuter car,

by Wally1 from 98801 on October 30, 2017

Bought the Fiat 500 as a second commuter car. It drives well, not much power but runs well at highway speed. Clutch is problematic and feels "soft". Dash EVIC is way too difficult to figure out or it ... Read Full Review

Read All Consumer Reviews

5 Trims Available

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Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2013 FIAT 500 trim comparison will help you decide.
 

FIAT 500 Articles

2013 FIAT 500 Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on FIAT 500 Abarth

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on FIAT 500 Abarth

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
G
Overall Rear
G
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
G

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
A
Left Leg/Foot
A
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
G
Structure/safety cage
G

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
M
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
G
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on FIAT 500 Abarth

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on FIAT 500 Abarth

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Side Barrier
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Recalls

There are currently 2 recalls for this car.


Safety defects and recalls are relatively common. Stay informed and know what to do ahead of time.

Safety defects and recalls explained

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

48mo/50,000mi

Powertrain

48mo/50,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

48mo/unlimited

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

Powertrain

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years