Nimble handling and a free-revving engine make the funky, retro-styled Fiat 500 microcar engaging to drive. Zippy around town and easy to park, this two-door subcompact seems the ideal urban runabout. Its cuteness may be undeniable, and the front cabin is surprisingly spacious, but slow acceleration, a choppy ride and a noisy interior detract from the fun.
Other drawbacks include an awkward driving position, cramped backseats that are hard to reach, and a skinflint cargo area.
On the face of it, the 33 mpg overall we recorded looks terrific, but considering this car's minuscule size -- more than three feet shorter and 400 pounds lighter than a 32-mpg Toyota Corolla -- that fuel economy isn't so extraordinary. It also takes some work to wring the power out of the small engine.