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2018 FIAT 500e Overview
While the entire gas-powered Fiat 500 lineup goes all-turbo for 2018, the electric Fiat 500e remains largely unchanged. For 2018, its range is 84 miles and the combined MPGe is 112.
The good news is that the 500e still dashes from 0 to 60 miles per hour faster than most gas-powered 500s, and it delivers a stable and fun ride with accurate handling. The bug-like exterior makes it easily recognizable, and a number of exclusive design enhancements make it more aerodynamic than the base 500. Its weak spot remains its small cabin. The front seats sit high, providing good visibility out the front and sides, but rear visibility can be limited. Interior materials and safety features are adequate, but trunk space is limited to just 7 cubic feet due to the battery compartment.
Fiat offers the 500e in Base and E-Sport trims. Both display an Italian-inspired exterior design with a short hood, round headlights, wide stance, minimal overhangs, and an A-shaped profile. Fog lights, daytime running lights, heated power side mirrors, and a rear ECO spoiler are standard on both trims. The E-Sport gets a few exterior upgrades like black-trimmed headlights, orange mirror caps, and orange side stripes. Both trims ride on 15-inch wheels, but the E-Sport gets distinctive wheels with orange accents.
Inside the four-passenger cabin, the driver and passenger should find plenty of legroom and headroom, but adults may feel cramped in the second row. Circular, rounded, and curved shapes give the dash, instrument cluster housing, and center stack a retro yet futuristic look designed to appeal to younger buyers. A digital instrument cluster uses color graphics to display the charge level, vehicle functions, speed, and trip information. The center stack sits high, putting knobs and controls within easy reach of the driver. The 50/50 rear split seatbacks can fold down for expanded cargo space.
Although some critics give the cabin mixed reviews due in part to seat comfort and the quality of some materials, both trims come well-equipped. Standard features for the Base trim include leatherette upholstery, heated front seats with memory, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, push-button start, automatic climate control, and remote keyless entry. A 5-inch color touchscreen provides access to the automaker's Uconnect 5.0 system, which includes navigation, a reversing camera, satellite radio, and a premium six-speaker Alpine audio system, all standard. Front map lights and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror are among the other standard features. The E-Sport adds unique interior accents and upholstery options. An optional power sunroof is available for both trims.
Power for the 500e comes from an 83-kilowatt electric motor delivering 111 horsepower and 147 pound-feet of torque. Top speed remains 88 mph. The zero-emissions electric powertrain also includes a single-speed gearbox transmission, a 364-volt lithium-ion battery, and an inverter module to regulate power flow. In addition, Fiat equips the 500e with a "blended braking" regenerative braking system designed to closely match the feel of a typical brakes with no grab or drag when lifting off the accelerator pedal. Owners can fully charge the 500e's battery in less than four hours with a 240-volt home charging station, but it can take up to 24 hours to fully charge the battery with a 120-volt outlet or at a charging station using the supplied cable. The EPA estimates an MPGe of 121 city, 103 highway, and 112 combined.
The 500e's low center of gravity, thanks in part to the battery's position in the chassis, results in good maneuverability and stability. The front-wheel-drive (FWD) platform features an upgraded heavy-duty suspension with MacPherson struts in the front and twin-tube shocks with a torsion beam in the rear. Electric power steering with a tilt column delivers a precise feel. The stiffer body of the 500e, when compared to the base 500, helps to improve handling.
Safety features for the 500e include seven airbags, electronic stability control, traction control, and hill-start assist. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 500e a safety rating of four out of five stars, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded it a top rating of Good in four out of five categories.
For car buyers seeking a standout ride with Italian flair, the 500e is worth a look.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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