• Oct 18, 2011
We hear it all the time when we're out test-driving any of the current crop of subcompacts: "Is that little car safe?" Well, if it's a Fiat 500, our answer should be affirmative, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The venerable independent testing agency has issued a Top Safety Pick award to the diminutive Italian cutemobile, which joins the Ford Fiesta as the only minicars to earn such praise.

The only caveat is that IIHS has specifically excluded 500's that were built before August 2011. According to the group, the driver's seat structure was modified to improve safety, and those cars without the improved seat were judged only "marginal" in the frontal offset test. The new seats help the 500 to score "Good" in that test, a rating the car also achieved in side impact tests and roof strength.

Fiat sales have been slow in the U.S., so perhaps this news might help Chrysler turn things around. At the very least, it will give owners a good answer to "What's going to happen if I hit you with my F-150?"

Crash test videos after the jump.

Update: As a point of clarification, IIHS consider the Fiesta and Fiat 500 so-called "minicars," while it classifies the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic a "small car." The Sonic also earned Top Safety Pick honors.


2012 Fiat 500 built after July 2011 40 mph frontal offset test



2012 Fiat 500 built before August 2011 40 mph frontal offset test


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 69 Comments
      lasertekk
      • 3 Years Ago
      You can't even see the interior of the car. The whole inside surface of the interior is surrounded by airbags. I guess that provides an almost spherical bubble of protection. Remember that movie with Stallone and Bullock based in the future, when the car's interior completely filled with foam to protect them in the crash? That's what this reminds me off.
      marshall
      • 3 Years Ago
      I just bought one of these little cars and can tell you....i feel very safe in it. The build quality is awesome.
      breakfastburrito
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love this!!! One fewer opportunity for people to try to shut down the Abarth program. Can't wait. Only motorcycles are more fun than a boosted Abarth.
      Justin
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rode in one of these cars when they first came out. They felt very safe then. Now they're even better, it seems. I wouldn't hesitate to buy this car.
      ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      What test are they doing when the 500 has all its wheels taken off?
      simianspeedster
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here's a better real world example: Fiat 500 vs. Audi Q7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58zqJCtUjSI&NR=1 Not good
        emperor koku
        • 3 Years Ago
        @simianspeedster
        Yes, we really should get SUVs off the road.
          Rick C.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          I second the motion.
          simianspeedster
          • 3 Years Ago
          @emperor koku
          That's not likely, but the roads would be safer if there were less differentiation in weight, center of gravity and bumper height between different types of cars. It's not an easy problem to solve, but it's worth trying. The EPA's new formula that allows for substantially different mileage goals based on a vehicle's physical footprint does little to encourage manufacturers to build smaller, more space efficient models. And as long as the giant vehicles are still on the roads, car buyers will be understandably hesitant to buy small cars for safety reasons.
      gnvlscdt23f
      • 3 Years Ago
      The frontal-offset test is only a good indication of what would happen if it ran into another vehicle about the same weight, such as another 500. It's no good indication of what even a Five Hundred might do, much less any even heavier (and higher) F-150.
        Phil B
        • 3 Years Ago
        @gnvlscdt23f
        That's the truth right there. Put it up against a bigger, heavier vehicle and that A pillar and steering wheel will be flying back.
      Jason J McCabe
      • 3 Years Ago
      Cars are judged based on their class. I'll tell you what happens if you crash into an F150 in your fiat: it ain't good.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      simianspeedster
      • 3 Years Ago
      "At the very least, it will give owners a good answer to "What's going to happen if I hit you with my F-150?" No, it won't -- not even close. Mr. Sabatini: you need a lesson in basic physics. By way of example, here's a video of a standard Smart Car crash test. You'll see that it fares decently well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mz-s1sIoLhU Here is an example of a C Class Mercedes (not a big car by any means) and the same Smart Car colliding in a more real-world test http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he6TL15pJtw There's this little thing called mass that changes the equation to the distinct disadvantage of the small car. You don't want to see what an F150 would do to a Fiat 500. This article is very misleading because it has no basis in reality -- it should be edited ASAP.
        Mark
        • 3 Years Ago
        @simianspeedster
        SimianSpeedster, correct me if I'm wrong. Don't you have to take into consideration the momentum of the 2 cars where the C300 is much greater because of its mass? A fairer comparison would be for the both car hit the same concrete wall that does not move and see the damage inflicted to the passengers and how deformed the passenger compartment is. Which is how the safety rating is calculated. No?
          simianspeedster
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Mark
          Mark -- you're completely missing the point. The safety rating is just a standardized metric, but it's not representative of most real world accidents. Most real world accidents don't involve a car hitting a stationary object that applies equal and opposite force like a solid concrete wall. The differentiation in mass, hence force, is the exact reason why a FIat 500 stands no chance against a Ford F150. Don't get me wrong: Fiat deserves credit for building a strong but small and light car. Bt the fact remains that other companies still build 3 ton beasts that share the same roads and physics are physics. My objection is to the author's completely unsupported and irresponsible last sentence. These tests do not provide a potential buyer with any idea how a Fiat 500 would stand up to a giant truck/SUV in a real-world crash.
      aatbloke1967
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not surprised, given that it has a 5-star Euro NCAP rating. That said, I'm bemused by all the "getting hit by an F-150 or Escalade" comments, given that plenty of A-segment drivers in Europe happily comingle with large vehicles, particularly commercial vehicles and articulated trucks. So either those people are saying American driving standards are generally very poor, or they're just a little paranoid about an issue which has a remote chance of occurring.
      agmassey
      • 3 Years Ago
      I bought a new Fiat 128 during the gas crunch of the early 70's. I had an 88 mile roundtrip commute and I needed a gas sipper. I traded a Dodge Cornet on it. I am an older guy and have owned 22 cars in my lifetime. Without a doubt the Fiat was my worst car ever! Nothing even came close to that honor. It was a mechanical disaster of the first case! At 70k it was worn out literally. The Fiat dealer did not even want it. What a piece of junk. I would never, ever buy a Fiat.
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