Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A gray 2017 Fiat 124 Spider convertible is shown from the rear driving on a highway past a river after leaving a used Fiat dealer.

Fiat: Practical, Affordable, Efficient

Anyone looking for a car that is built to last would do well to look into a Fiat. The brand has been around since 1899 and in the United States since 1908. Fiat, as a whole, has a brand consistency not often seen in other car manufacturers. The brand, originally based in Italy, only sells four models in various trims, which speaks to the consistent quality of their vehicles. After all, if few changes are needed from year to year, and the vehicle still sells well, that is a sure sign of a high-quality product. Anyone interested in a Fiat would do well to find a used Fiat dealer to do their shopping and save money.

The available models are the Fiat 500X, the Fiat 500L, the Fiat 124 Spider, and the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth. The Fiat 124 Spider and Fiat 124 Spider Abarth are convertibles. The Fiat 500X and Fiat 500L are both subcompact crossovers, with the 500L being a hatchback style. These wildly different vehicles were made to meet multiple needs for various kinds of people. Whatever model of Fiat interests you, you are guaranteed to get a vehicle that will last for years and years. Even if you start with a pre-owned Fiat, so long as it has been well maintained, it will hold quite a bit of its original value.

Cruising in the Spiders

The Fiat 124 Spider and the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth are both good looking vehicles designed with Italian aesthetics in mind. Both models have smooth curves, sporty looks, and offer wide fields of vision to their drivers. The average MSRP for a brand new 124 Spider is around $25,000, making them remarkably affordable for any buyer. Pre-owned, the Spiders run even cheaper, with some older models running as low as $10,000. The Fiat 124 Spider Abarth has a six-speed transmission, while the 124 Spider allows owners to choose between a six-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual transmission.

The engine for Spiders from 2017-2020 is a 1.4-liter four cylinders and turbocharged, with 160 horsepower. The Spiders’ engine also produces 184 lb-ft of torque, making them quick and fun to drive. While this is the only engine that the 124 Spider has had, it’s still very good. Fiat rarely makes large changes to its models, speaking highly for how well they are made from the start. Drivers with this engine can expect to see up to 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

Most Spiders are highly rated by their owners and often compared with the Mazda Miata since the two vehicles are built on the same frame. Fiat Spiders are reported to have excellent sound systems, allowing music to be easily heard even when the top is down. These little roadsters are not the most powerful vehicles from the start but pick up well once the transmission does fully kick in to give a boost. Fiat Spiders generally seat two and tend to have compact interiors, though they are well designed with plenty of headroom.

Fiat 124 Spiders have excellent sound deadening, and the convertible top can be easily raised or lowered with the push of a button from the driver or passenger side. Optional additions include things like rear parking sensors, adaptive headlights, or speakers built into the seats. The manual gearbox is reported to have the option to skip the clutch and have faster acceleration than the automatic. This has led the manual transmission to be reviewed as more fun to drive and more adaptable. However, the automatic is just as functional as the manual.

A red 2017 Fiat 500 is shown from the rear parked in front of a waterfront.

Fiat 500: Spacious and Comfortable

The Fiat 500, whether the 500X or 500L, has a moderately powerful engine that offers a smooth ride. These vehicles offer more space than the Spiders, with seating for up to five. There are also 60/40 split rear seats that fold down to accommodate cargo. Brand new, a Fiat 500 has an average MSRP of around $24,000. Pre-owned, as with the Fiat Spider, the Fiat 500’s prices plunge to under $10,000 if a particular vehicle has a few years on it.

The 500 runs on the same engine as the Spiders: a 1.4-liter four-cylinder. The 1.4-liter engine found in models from 2012 to 2017 produces 101 horsepower and 98 lb-ft of torque. This engine also gives you up to an estimated 30 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway, though those ratings may vary depending on the model year. In this same time period, you can also find models with the turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that produce an appealing 160 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. With this engine, again depending on year, you will see up to 28 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway. All these engines come with a choice of either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Fiat 500s are fun to drive, highly reliable, and excellent to control. They tend to be very lightweight, making fast braking easy to control even in adverse weather conditions, like heavy rain or icy roads. The gas mileage is rated highly across the board with good handling. Though Fiat 500s are compact, they are reported to have a wide turning radius, which can cause some issues in busy city traffic or parking lots. For the most part, Fiat 500s are widely reviewed to have plenty of flexibility and high comfort for the driver. High seats in front and wide doors make getting in and out a smooth process.

Overall, Fiat 500s are affordable without looking cheap. They are head-turners, often drawing questions even from people who know nothing about cars. They are reported to run better using premium fuel, which can cause strain on some wallets, though the fuel efficiency will save money in the long run. Fiat 500s prove to be well made, easy to maintain, and easy to get into. They are solidly built, though small compared to similar vehicles on the market, and guaranteed to make drivers happy for many years.

A yellow 2015 Fiat 500X is driving on a dirt road.

Fiat: Affordable and Reliable

Fiat very much makes a product that is built to last. These are vehicles that hold a lot of their value as they age. With only a handful of models available, the company and its dealers are free to focus on releasing a high-quality product every single time. There is a lot to be said for a vehicle that is compact and lightweight, yet still stylish and fun to drive. Fiat knows that they have the car making formula right, so they continue to use it and produce cars people will love.

Whether you drive the Fiat 500L, 500X, Spider, or Spider Abarth, these are vehicles that others will definitely notice and comment on. Pre-owned Fiats have stood the test of time and had all their kinks worked out, making them the perfect buy for drivers who need a vehicle they know to be reliable. If you want a long-running vehicle that will draw attention without breaking the bank, the Fiat brand is a natural choice. Visit your local used Fiat dealer to test drive one of these models today.