2012 Fiat 500 - Click above for high-res image gallery

When the Fiat 500 launched here in the U.S., we didn't expect Texas to be one of the vehicle's largest markets. But according to Ward's Auto, that's exactly the case. Fiat boasts a total of 10 franchises in the land of cowboy boots and ten gallon hats – a figure that's only bested by the likes of California and tied with New York and Florida. The Italian automaker's North American boss, Laura Soave, says that a host of green and tech-industry workers, sprawling suburban living and the fourth-largest metropolitan center in the country in Houston, Texas is the perfect place for the 500.

Even more surprising is word that most Fiat dealers are ordering up the 500 with an impressive manual transmission take rate. In a country where most drivers believe their left foot is only good for mounting and dismounting their Hoveround, a full 70 percent of 500 dealer orders have been placed for manual transmission models – a figure that has surprised Fiat execs. Is there hope for the row-your-own way of life, or are these suckers destined to languish on dealer lots? Let's hope for the former.


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  • 69 Comments
      Bill Burke
      • 3 Years Ago
      The fact that the 500 is selling well should not surprise anyone who has knowledge of it's European success,and the Chrysler built version is even better. Fiat was just named the most satisfying brand by owners in Germany. This bodes well for future 500 variants and for a whole host of Chrysler engineered and designed vehicles which will be built off Chrysler modified Fiat platforms. Fiat cars now being built off these new platforms have recieved raves in Europe and just like their 500 counterparts, when modified by Chrysler should be even better. Fiat has given the best it has to offer to Chrysler and Chrysler in return has given Fiat/Lancia some impresive vehicles for it's market. This partnership seems to be working wonderfully and customers are responding favorably.
      Cnote
      • 3 Years Ago
      I work for Hendrick Fiat in North Carolina, and we cant keep the Manual transmissions in stock. I totally agree with the number of 70/30 manual to automatic. The manual transmission is so much more fun to drive. When Fiat sent us the 'pre-spec' models when we first opened, it was 65/35 auto to manual ratio and we sold out of manuals within 14 days. Now that we can order them we flipped that ratio, and trying to get as many manuals as possible. At the moment we have about 27 manuals in stock, and want to increase that number to around 55
        Susan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Cnote
        Good for you! Finally, a car dealership that has not dumbed down its stock to the lowest common denominator buyer. Even BMW dealers now have almost 100 percent automatics on the lot (sadly, maybe that is an accurate reflection of the level of the typical BMW buyer today).
      stumpy
      • 3 Years Ago
      hopefully this means they'll offer manual on the top of the line lounge model
      VVhistler
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yes, I've noticed a big influx of these here in Austin. This happened with the Smart here as well though. Still gives me a chuckle to see them dart around all the Silverados and Battlestar Gallactica Edition F-350's.
      PJA48142
      • 3 Years Ago
      I live in Toledo, and drive into Detroit every week for work. We have a Fiat dealer in Toledo, less than 2 miles from my house. Fiats are E-plan eligible for Chrysler employees. I've seen one (thats 1) in Toledo so far. I've seen 3 in Detroit, parked next to one at Metro Airport. The Fiat dealer in Toledo was putting a $2000 markup on the car when it first came out. Now they've made the MSRP unavailable on their website, it just lists the price for the unit, no sticker available. Don't get me wrong, I like the car. Part of me wants one. But I'll buy a gently used employee owned model a year from now to absorb the sticker shock. This car is probably going to do better in cities like Dallas and Atlanta than it's doing in Detroit. But I just don't see the demand for the car nationwide at the current price point.
      Emilio
      • 3 Years Ago
      Doesn't surprise me. There are so many ways you can customize these cars. U can make it your own. Unlike the other competitors.
      Darnell Robeson
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have finally driven one the other day..i work for Enterprise and ofcoarse we hav only automatic 500's, but, I was initially surprised at how EVERYONE likes or really loves this car
      Martin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Impressive, but at the end the stickshift share will fall, just as it did with the Mini. By the way, does anyone know which are the most manual cars on the market?
        David
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Martin
        Martin, where are you getting that from? My own observation is that at least 75% of all MINIs I see parked on the streets are MT, and that's been the case since 2002, through to the current MY. My Cooper was an MT too (had it 6 years). My current car is MT too (Nissan Juke). Only a loser buys a CVT MINI. The Getrag MT is brilliant. Anyhow, I really doubt MINI MT units have proportionately dropped off as you say. I believe they've been a constant (unless new Countryman buyers are starting to skew the pattern?)
      AC2RC
      • 3 Years Ago
      Are the customers going to call it the Topolino like the old one ?? What about interest in the Abarth or other mods ?
      tantareanujellob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cool chick car bro.
      kmanning83
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't understand the hype surrounding this car. The design looks like it was penned in 1998.
        kmanning83
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kmanning83
        Nine down-votes? I didn't realize car guys could be such a touchy bunch.
          David
          • 3 Years Ago
          @kmanning83
          It's 9 guys disagreeing with you by giving you -1. It's not like 1 guy was so touchy he down voted you 9 times. I mean, you wouldn't care if one guy gave you -1 but when 9 people do it all of sudden they're touchy? I'm just saying you shouldn't care so much about the number next to your name cause for some reason alot of people are.
        Gordon Chen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @kmanning83
        that's the point.
      stclair5211
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is not surprising. In a state with per capita debt higher than California, the most minimum wage jobs in the country and one of the worst education systems this makes sense. Texas is full of stupid people obviously. Take back your state Texas! Other than being small, the 500 is not worth considering. You can get so much more car, better MPGs and even better quality elsewhere.
        Robert D.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        Congratulations, the Internet voted you today's stupidest poster!
        Autoblogist
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        Meh thinks he has an ex in Texas.
        sirjaysmith
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        yea, having one of the best economies during the worst recession is nothing to take note of.......
        ACSRHS
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        Your first two sentences don't sound ignorant at all...
        nardvark
        • 3 Years Ago
        @stclair5211
        I'm guessing your state has a higher unemployment rate. They don't do everything wrong down there, just a different set of priorities.
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