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Our First Fiat: We Go From Huge Toyota Tundra to Tiny Fiat 500

Sections: Car Safety, Chassis

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2013 Fiat 500 Sport Photo Shoot 011

(Lyndon Johnson photo)

Imagine my shock when the press car delivery guy called to say he’d be picking up the barge-sized Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition and dropping off a Fiat 500 Sport. Talk about your contrasts!

Compared to docking the Titanic parking the Tundra, which had a propensity for making every parking space feel at least half a size too tight, getting the Fiat 500 Sport in the same holes was like throwing a hotdog down a hallway. The 500 was roughly 90 inches shorter in length and 15 inches narrower than our Tundra.

Most people — including some in my family — figured two things: (1) the car is too small to be comfortable, and (2) it’s nowhere near as safe as that tank of a Tundra I was driving the week before. While its much smaller interior width was noticed quite a bit, I honestly didn’t have trouble with the leg- or headroom at all — which is admirable on the Fiat 500′s part because I’m 6’3″. Also, I was heartened to see a full complement of airbags in the front seats, side curtains, lower dashboard and of course the steering wheel and upper passenger dashboard.

2013 Fiat 500 Sport Photo Shoot 012

(Lyndon Johnson photo)

My father, who kept calling the Fiat 500 a “crackerbox,” seemed impressed with the “knee bags,” as he called them. After a drunk driver hit him head-on last February, his leg was broken in multiple places. He will likely walk with a cane the rest of his life. He seemed to think his injuries might not have been as bad as they were/are had his now-totaled Mazda pickup truck featured the so-called “knee bags.”

But nobody buys a Fiat 500 with safety as the deciding factor, right? After just a couple of short drives in the car, with its somewhat rorty MultiAir 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission, I can safely say I sure wouldn’t. The driving experience was the real reason to like this car. I even came to think about the little Fiat 500 as a four-wheeled Vespa of sorts. More on that in the next installment.

Disclosure: Fiat provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

 

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