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Fiat 500 Gets IIHS Top Safety Pick

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On: Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 9:31AM | By: Chris Weiss

Fiat 500 Gets IIHS Top Safety Pick

The tiny Fiat 500 is the car that relaunched the Fiat brand in the United States. And Chrysler/Fiat hopes that the 500 will provide a solid start to a run much improved from its last foray in the American market, when Fiats earned the nickname "Fix It Again, Tony."

So far, the car has some serious accolades on its side including a 2009 World Car Design of the Year award and a recent Kelley Blue Book recommendation as a top back-to-school car. And now it's met one of the biggest challenges that tiny cars face head on and come out the victor: the 500 has received a prestigious "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While small cars are great for gas mileage (the 2012 Fiat 500 with manual transmission gets 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway ), they have some downsides, most notably cargo space and safety. Something about driving around in a tiny fiberglass box that is downright scary.

But that's no longer a reason to avoid the 2012 Fiat 500. Along with the 2012 Ford Fiesta, the Fiat 500 is one of only two minicars to receive the Top Safety Pick designation. The designation involves performance on front, side, rollover and rear-impact evaluations, and the inclusion of electronic stability control. The IIHS clarifies that the award applies to Fiat 500 models built after July 2011, because Fiat reconfigured the seating, a change that helped in front- and rear-impact protection.

Despite an aggressive ad campaign, U.S. sales of the 500 and 500 convertible have been slower than expected, with just over 11,000 sold as of last month (since March 2011). But the safety award should only help the 500. Add the Top Safety Pick to a funky, iconic, retro-inspired styling; the fuel economy boost of a minicar; and an affordable, $15,500 base price, and you seem to have a compelling list of reasons for consumers to look seriously at a 500.


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