Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 1.3L Diesel I4
Power:
94 HP / 148 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
13.0 Seconds
Top Speed:
99 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,833 LBS
Seating:
2+2
Cargo:
1,400 LBS
MPG:
50 mpg (est.)
Should Fiat Sell This Tiny Truck In The U.S.?



"Niche" is the word of the day. No, this funky, spot-on little pickup from Fiat do Brasil was never designed or destined to put up huge sales numbers in North America, but we think it might fit in perfectly with the niche-loving image of this Italian brand in the United States. And why not? Executives have spoken of bringing over their range of Fiat Professional models in the next couple of years, and we remain foolishly hopeful something like the Strada might be on that boat.

Regular Autoblog readers know of our almost knee-jerk love of hot hatchbacks, station wagons, diesels and other less-than-popular automotive subsets. We too are aware of this quiverful of weaknesses – hell, we embrace them. And perhaps more than any other underserved niche, we cheer for the return of truly small pickups to the U.S. en masse, preferably with quirky solutions and deliberately fun chassis and body combos as on this Strada.

Built primarily at Fiat's huge Betim factory in Brazil, and contracted out to other South American countries, as well as to Russia, these wee Strada pickups can be seen everywhere in the sub-Caribbean western hemisphere. For my day of driving and actually delivering stuff, I was handed a finished prototype of the 2013 Fiat Strada Adventure double-cab. If I use the unprofessional term "fun" too much in this review, cut me some slack. This journalist is just old enough to remember driving new Pennsylvania-built Volkswagen Rabbit pickups that lived their love-hate existence in the U.S. from the late-1970s into the early 1980s. And who can forget the sassy Subaru Brat with those two rear-facing seats in the bed that were immediate darlings over at NHTSA? And I speak from personal experience, having driven a Mitsubishi turbodiesel pickup that taught me how to kick broken-down cars in anger.
2013 Fiat Strada side view2013 Fiat Strada front view2013 Fiat Strada rear view

But the trouble was never with these pickups' configurations, which were utterly loveable (provided one was given to love such things). The trouble was with their powertrains, which had to be some of the very worst in history. This is decidedly not the case anymore.

European trucker culture is very separate from North American trucker culture.

My privileged drive of this little Brazilian Fiat utility happened on the streets and highways of northeastern Italy on a truly amazing day. There were lots of friendly salutations exchanged between this Strada and all other camionisti on the road. I was a trucker. C'mon, don't laugh and point – European trucker culture is very separate from North American trucker culture.

In most of Europe, pickup trucks have a choice to be registered as either personal cars or as light commercial vehicles. If the former, you pay all taxes you would on any passenger vehicle, which can get expensive. If the latter, you can write-off the added taxes intended on your annual tax return. But if you choose that latter route, you can only drive the Strada during specific hours of the day, and only on weekends if you've acquired a special permit. This policy varies widely in Europe, but oddly in Italy – the lifeblood of Fiat together with South America – the Strada can only be registered as a commercial vehicle in the N1 class. This is ironic ridiculousness in its clearest form. Welcome to Italy.

2013 Fiat Strada interior2013 Fiat Strada seats2013 Fiat Strada auxiliary gauges2013 Fiat Strada shifter

If it came to North America, Fiat could probably throw a more powerful lump under the hood.

It was daylight on a weekday, though, so all was well. This Adventure trim with its E-Locker virtual differential is such a softroader star, though, that this whole "N1" permit situation had me shaking my head and whining a bit. I would definitely consider putting one of these sporty lifestyle trucklets in my Milan garage – if only I could freely drive the thing whenever I like.

In Brazil, a good portion of Strada models run on a flex-fuel gas/ethanol diet via 1.6-liter and 1.8-liter motors, but my Fiat tester carried the hallmark 1.3-liter JTD turbodiesel engine with direct injection, a winning engine engineered partly during the ill-fated General Motors-Fiat tieup. Its modest 94 horsepower is all there between 3,500 and 4,500 rpm, but the engine's true peak is at 4,000 revs. Torque sits at 148 pound-feet between 1,500 and 3,000 rpm, and that's plenty of heat for this 2,833-pound utility pup. Acceleration from 0 to 60 miles will not peel your eyelids back at 13.0 seconds, nor will the top speed of 99 mph. On the other hand, as anyone who owns a Strada or is a fan will tell you, speed dominance is not at all what this pickup is about – and besides, if it came to North America, Fiat could probably throw a more powerful lump under the hood. As it is, I was averaging just over 50 miles per U.S. gallon without even trying much.

2013 Fiat Strada engine

The model you see here would come in around $16,500 and bare-bones single cab models would start at around $12,000.

Of all the Strada variations that are available, this double cab with Adventure trim is exactly the one to get. The longstanding essential design of the Strada by Giorgetto Giugiaro is pretty classic for its genre. Inside, the high-end contoured seating for four adults is new in this generation and tremendously comfortable, and the essential controls and switchgear make sense and are easy to use. The trick added instrumentation for this Adventure of side-to-side and fore-aft inclinometers along with compass is fun and useful, too. You can get as Spartan and bargain basement as you like with a Strada, but the higher trims are worth it. Were they to be sold in the States, I'd estimate the model you see here would come in around $16,500 and bare-bones single cab models would start at around $12,000.

Given the numbers put up by the 1.3-liter four-cylinder and the typical streets on which the Strada is currently destined to roll, the five-speed manual transmission is sufficient. No, this gearbox is not the pinnacle of sophistication, but officials assure us that a six-speed manual would be an easy switch should other continents want the Strada. The sharp 15-inch wheelset for the Adventure trim with its mild off-road tires is, of course, more than up to the task.

2013 Fiat Strada2013 Fiat Strada grille2013 Fiat Strada wheel2013 Fiat Strada bed

Towing loads can reach 2,200 pounds.

Total load allowed for this double-cab with its truncated bed is set at 1,400 pounds, and that number takes into account the humans aboard, so this configuration is a compromise. Hauling 1,400 pounds with this small bed, though, would probably never happen anyway, so it's sort of a non-critical limit, if you will. And as loaded as I got the Strada with two people up, tall plants aboard, and equipment, the dynamics and ride were as astute as I had hoped they'd be. Towing loads can reach 2,200 pounds, as well.

At present, there is no confirmation or denial regarding a future Strada offering for North America. But anyone needing to do daily busy work, independent contractors who don't require a full- or mid-size pickup, or even active athletic outdoorsy folk living in places with little parking, should write Fiat a note urging them to get this humble hauler into U.S. showrooms ASAP... even if it ends up with a Ram badge on its nose.



I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 201 Comments
      th0mb0ne
      • 2 Years Ago
      If people were honest and truthful with their needs, this would probably be a great option for 50% of truck buyers out there. That bed is a bit short though. Ideally I'd still prefer something more aking to a first gen Tacoma.
      Spyder 8
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes, bring it here... you'll sell a ton of these... but don't make it a Jeep! Leave it as a Fiat, or rebrand as a Dodge.
      Ron McCord
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am an American living in Colombia and I can buy this truck. It looks sporty and has perfect dimensions. Now for me to buy it in the Usa would only need the following changes. Add a diesel engine or at least 140hp gas or turbo engine and a 5 or 6 speed auto. Somehow the plastic all around the exterior would have to be changed to be painted or adjusted. 0-60 should be under 9 seconds ideally. Do all this and I am not looking at buying the new subaru I will buy this. How hard would it be Dodge to import this thing as your new small pickup? I think 100k sales a year would be easy, no competition at all!!!!!
        ilmhmtu
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ron McCord
        For this price-point, I think the plastic is fine. They could make a fancy trim at $18-20K with no plastic cladding.
      ryanandrewmartin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why not?
      Luis
      • 2 Years Ago
      I own a Fiat Strada 2012 and really like it. If you are not looking for DVD player and high end luxury the Strada fits the bill. Comfortable, cheap on gas, simple and with a bed big enough to carry plants, soil and pots which is what I use it for. The card does not pretend to be something it is not. Maybe it is a car with a bed or a small pickup. All I know is that it is easy to clean, reliable, good on gas and with enough power to take me where I want.
      Mike Cornell
      • 2 Years Ago
      The cladding/adventure bars etc. are a little over the top but the size, specs and especially mpg are spot-on. I would buy this in a heartbeat.
      CelloMom On Cars
      • 2 Years Ago
      One of my neighbors always says that every homeowner needs a pickup truck. He has one this size that gets a lot of use for yard waste, compost, bits of building materials, etc. AND he has graciously let his neighbors (like me) borrow his truck. This is totally adequate for homeowner use (except in the hilliest neighborhoods), and the 50 mpg fuel efficiency. I'm tired of hearing "Americans" want their cars (and trucks) big and big-engined. Who are these "Americans"? I know plenty who are much more pragmatic than that.
        A P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CelloMom On Cars
        Are you really that obtuse? Those Americans are the ones buying big trucks in the millions every year and buying less and less of small trucks. Just because you know 10 people who agree with you that means not a thing really. Car makers do study after study on what people want to buy...if there was a groundswell of support for something like this, they would try it out....but nobody cares outside of sycophantic auto bloggers those that write the articles.
          Matthew Davis
          • 2 Years Ago
          @A P
          I'm still not a sycophant, A P, no matter how many times you say it without knowing what it means. Do you have friends?
      Jake
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes, choice is a good thing.
      Stevie Diffy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have loved this truck from the first time I layed my eyes on it while searching through Fiat models.
        joejoe509
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Stevie Diffy
        Sorry but I don't think this has much of a chance being a Dodge. It'll either be a RAM or it'll be a Jeep.
      BLSully
      • 2 Years Ago
      If the estimated $16.5k could be remotely met with that 1.3 diesel and AWD, I'd buy one tomorrow. Quite literally. My wife's Escape is showing it's age and this would be perfect for her (and me when i need to carry stuff or tow the motorcycle)
      londonsanctuary
      • 2 Years Ago
      Love it, especially if it IS $12k AND gets 40-50 mpg. Bring it!
      4gasem
      • 2 Years Ago
      Subaru Brat! YEAH! Not the prettiest vehicle from the back...
    • Load More Comments