2024 Fiat 500e Tested: Best as a Second Car

2024 fiat 500e
2024 Fiat 500e Might Be All the EV You NeedMarc Urbano - Car and Driver

Update 6/5/24: This review has been updated with instrumented test results.

A starting price barely over $34,000. A curb weight under 3000 pounds. Power and acceleration figures that aren't chasing modern sports cars. Enough battery capacity for a few days of around-town driving. Healthy levels of standard equipment. While a parade of big-battery, multi-motor, mega-horsepower, high-dollar electric vehicles is pushing EVs in one direction, there's a dearth of small, affordable EVs keeping it simple. The 2024 Fiat 500e is such a presence.

Staggeringly Normal Specs

Most modern EVs make enough horsepower to put generation-old sports cars to shame, and that's not exactly what everyone wants or needs. The 2024 500e is more of an anachronism in this sense, returning to the days of small, inexpensive cars that provide tepid acceleration. Here, a single permanent-magnet electric motor powers the front axle and produces just 117 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Fiat claims the 500e will meander its way to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds before topping out at 94 mph, but in our hands, it managed to hit 60 in a more reasonable 7.8 seconds. While that pales next to, say, a dual-motor Hyundai Ioniq 5, which gets to 60 in 4.5 seconds, it is quicker than a Chevy Traxwith its turbocharged inline-three or a Kia Sportage with its standard four-banger, and it's only one-tenth of a second behind a front-wheel-drive Chevy Equinox EV. The 500e dispatched the quarter-mile in 16.1 seconds at 85 mph, a decidedly chill pace and getting surprisingly close to its Vmax.

2024 fiat 500e
Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

Under the body lies a similarly modest lithium-ion battery, which we estimate has 37.0 kilowatt-hours of usable capacity. That might not seem like much juice at all, but Fiat was able to keep the curb weight low, the 500e tipping our scales at a svelte 2981 pounds—a far cry from those 5000-plus-pound Chunka Lunkas rolling around. The EPA range estimate for our all-season-tired test car is 141 miles. However, in our 75-mph highway range test, the 500e managed just 120 miles. Long-distance travel is not this car's strong suit.


Thankfully, Fiat claims the battery will charge from empty to 100 percent in six hours on a Level 2 charger with a 11.0-kW connection, and at its max DC fast-charge rate of 85 kilowatts, it will refill to 80 percent in 35 minutes. Our fast-charge test yielded results along those lines, taking 34 minutes to juice up from 13 to 80 percent. Charging rate peaked early on at 84 kilowatts, but it didn't stay there long; by 37 percent we were pulling just 60 kilowatts, and one minute later it dropped to around 40 kilowatts, where it hovered until we neared 75 percent.

Aesthetically, this little one is clearly a Fiat 500. The exterior picks up some LED lighting front and rear, as well as flush electronic door handles. But the flashiest of the new stuff, as well as the throwbacks, lies in the cabin. The dashboard trim, rounded gauge cluster, and two-spoke steering wheel are meant to evoke the OG 1957 Cinquecento. We dig the dedicated wireless-charging nook just below the (physical!) climate controls and 10.3-inch center display, which runs the latest version of Stellantis's Uconnect 5 software. A 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster is a nice thing to see, especially as fellow small-car manufacturer Mini seems intent on eliminating that feature in favor of a cheapo head-up display.

2024 fiat 500e
Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

While the eyes may deceive, the 500e is a bit larger than before, with its wheelbase and length both nearly an inch longer and width increasing by 2.2 inches. An additional 1.7 inches of shoulder room in the front row keeps the Fiat from feeling truly cramped, and the cargo hold will swallow eight cubic feet of stuff, such as a few backpacks or several bags of groceries. The back seat will fit an adult, though not for long journeys—but then, you're not going on a long journey, are you? Behind a seat set for a six-foot-tall driver, there was decent headroom, but the legroom was more reminiscent of that on a budget European airline than a car.

Despite the Fiat's small accommodations, the center console has a decently sized hidey-hole that could hold a small tablet. Two USB-A ports and a USB-C reside in various crannies. There's only one cupholder that isn't integrated into a door panel, but it can be folded and stowed when not needed, opening space in the cabin's lower half.

In addition to the tech, there's a bunch of other standard kit in this package. LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, wireless device charging andsmartphone mirroring, and rain-sensing wipers all are included. Also standard is the buyer's choice of a Level 2 home charger or fast-charge credits through the company's Free2move Charge program.

2024 fiat 500e
Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

Staggeringly Normal Demeanor

Whether we were traversing the stoplight-lousy streets of Miami—where our initial drive took place—or the mediocre roads around our Ann Arbor office, the 500e's ride was, as we expected, a little on the flinty side. It chilled out on smoother pavement, but the ride just about falls apart the second you need to brave something mildly janky like a dirt road. Our sound meter picked up minimal interior noise until higher speeds, where the 500e registered an unremarkable-for-an-EV 71 decibels at a 70-mph cruise.

Chucking this little guy into corners at normal speeds made for a fun urban jaunt, with prominent understeer and an appropriate amount of body roll for a car that's small but kind of tall. The 500e managed 0.83 g of grip around our 300-foot skidpad, besting both the front- and all-wheel-drive Chevy Equinox EV models we tested around the same time, which could only muster 0.78 g and 0.81 g. And that was with the Fiat's Pirelli Cinturato all-season tires; opt for the no-cost summer rubber, and not only should it grip a little better, but the EPA says it will travel an additional eight miles on a charge.

2024 fiat 500e
Marc Urbano - Car and Driver

It's fortunate that the 500e feels zippy at a relatively modest pace, because that's all the pace this Italian jelly bean can muster. There's a good bit of right-pedal sensitivity at lower speeds in both the standard Normal mode and the more efficient Range mode, and the dash to 30 mph is what matters most in a car of this ilk, which it can do in an adequate 2.8 seconds. Switch into Range mode, and the pedal does require a smidge more prodding to get things going, but the increased regenerative braking permits one-pedal driving, so it's the mode we preferred. If you're not a fan of regen, Normal mode's coasting and braking feel is like any other small car's. There's also a Sherpa mode that limits the top speed to 50 mph and cuts max motor output to 76 horsepower. It was explained as an "Oh crap, I have less battery than I thought and need to get home" mode, not one for normal use.

Dollars and Sense

Achieving a sub-$40,000 base price is not the easiest thing to do for any EV, especially at a time when the average transaction price for a new car is approaching the $50,000 mark. The 500e makes that clear in places like its torsion-beam rear axle and rear drum brakes. Unlike with Fiat's last foray into battery-electric models, parent company Stellantis probably won't lose the farm on every car it sells this time, despite the new 500e's MSRP being lower than its 2019 forebear's. And since there were no paid options on our Inspired By Music model (yes, that's its actual name), it stayed nice and affordable at $37,595.

While it won't solve the problem of charging access for those who park on the street, the 2024 Fiat 500e does help address one issue the EV space needs to work on: affordable variety. It's a true city car, with the thrift and capability needed for most weekly forays, and it works well as a second around-town-mobile when long trips aren't on the docket. It's a turtle among hares, but if that's all you need, why go overboard?

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