CarCorner Review: 2012 FIAT 500 – Winning!

Click to read more about Cathy Droz.

By Cathy Droz –

The original FIAT “Nuova 500” was born in l957 in Corso Dante, Italy.  At the time, it was boasting a simple Italian design and affordable price.  Not much has changed for 2012…still stylish and affordable with a starting price of only $15,500.

I have chosen to review this vehicle, very much the way the FIAT manufacturers are

FIAT in the 50’s

presenting it to the public and in their showrooms.  Yes, long time, any-brand dealers are adding the FIAT to their present showrooms.  FIAT is a stand-alone brand, much like SCION, and I believe they both are courting a certain demographic.

So here is a list, I mean outstanding features and up-to-the-minute technology that will be of interest to many a social networking, fun-loving and energy conscious buyer.   There are over 500,000 ways to personalize your FIAT.  Would you like to see your car with stripes or roof graphics?  How about a bike rack or Gloss Black wheels?  There are over half a million ways to customize the 500 so you stand out on the road.  If you were lucky, like me, to receive a $250 cash allowance card from FIAT in the mail, it is to be applied to any of the hundreds of accessories when you buy your car.

Let’s start with the basics of your purchase.  There is the FIAT 500 or 500 Cabrio.  Once you decide hard top or top down you can pick the Pop, Sport or Lounge model.  Once you have decided on that, pick your exterior color (l4 to choose from).  Then your leather interior design seating, maybe cloth and move on to a variety of wheel options.  Hold on to your gelato, because there is more.  There are bike, ski, snowboard and surfboard carriers.  They have Uconnect Web, which turns the FIAT into an instant WiFi Hotspot.  There are Katzkin leather seats with embroideries, piping, two-tones, suede and many different colors.

Check out the wheels!  Gloss Black to wheels with painted pockets, they have a variety of custom styles to choose from.  Bodyside moldings are a cool finishing touch for the FIAT buyer and some of the options include the 500 logo, graphic checker designs or even a barcode reminiscent of your local Target merchandise.

The FIAT 500 is not just a pretty face; powering the FIAT is an award winning engine.  The 1.4L, 16v MultiAir engine has electrohydraulic system valves for more dynamic and direct control of air and combustion.  This increased the power by l0 percent and torque by l5 percent cylinder-by-cylinder, stroke-by-stroke. Here is the best: it delivers 38 hwy mpg!

If you are looking for quality sound, the Bose premium system is available with six high performance speakers and a subwoofer.  It uses 50 percent less energy than Bose systems with comparable quality acoustic performance.

OK Facebookers and tweeters…FIAT has a BLUE&ME (Hands free communication) system with iPod, USB and MP3 interface.  No need to take your hands off the wheel or let your eyes leave the road.

It gets better.  FIAT has introduced eco:Drive – the industry-leading interactive tool that records the way you drive and then shows you what effect your habits have on fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.  Visit www.fiat.com/ecodrive/usa to learn more.

For me, it was a small car with lots of cool features.  I’ve driven over 500 cars in 10 years and reviewed them based on my lifestyle and environment. I can say the FIAT stood out as far as being solid and how safe I felt inside it.  The diversity and the personalization of this vehicle is what would draw me to it, but that would have been 35 years ago.  I would say a great car for the active single or couple.  I put the grandbaby in her car seat in the back and she fit fine, but I don’t think this is a family car. For more go to www.fiat.com.

Cathy Droz and Bill Zervakos of Two for the Road USA are radio personalities that lend their talent to both radio,television and print.  For more reviews go to www.twofortheroadusa.com.

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8: The beauty and the beast

By Bill Zervakos and Cathy Droz, Two For The Road USA – The Chrysler 300 concept was introduced at the New York Auto Show in 2003 and the first production iteration roared into showrooms as 2005 models to accolades from the media and consumers alike. The 300 was a complete change from the front-wheel-drive 300M and Concorde predecessors with bold styling and most importantly, rear-wheel-drive.

The base model came with a 2.7 liter V6 rated at a rather anemic 190 horsepower with the 300C designation boasting a HEMI powered 5.7 liter V8 pushing 345 horsepower engine. The Mac Daddy SRT8 soon followed with a 6.1 liter 425 horsepower engine. However, with the horsepower wars in full swing, Chrysler upped the ante with the 2012 SRT8 shoe-horning a 6.4 liter HEMI with 465 horsepower V8 under the aluminum hood of the restyled SRT8.

When I first saw the test car pulling into my driveway, I was struck by how much the half-inch lower ride height impacted the stance of the car. The lines are aggressive and the profile is striking with just enough side cladding to set the car apart from the 300C. The front fascia features black chrome grilles with snarling LED daytime running lights. In the rear, you’ll find four-inch exhaust outlets and a nifty spoiler that tops off the look.

Inside the SRT8 is pure sports-luxury, replete with a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters and lots of carbon fiber trim in the dashboard and console along with some nice chrome accents. The sport seats are upholstered in Alcantara leather and feature heating and ventilation with the SRT logo emblem on them. The brake and accelerator pedals are metal with rubber inserts and look very sporty. The gauges are large and easy to read and the center stack features a large screen making navigation or other functions easy to see.

The truth is though, that this car is all about the drive. At nearly 4,400 pounds it’s a huge, heavy sedan but it handled extremely well and while it’s no slalom machine, it corners very flat in the city but unfortunately I didn’t have an opportunity to get it on the track so I can’t vouch for its agility when pushed to the limit in turns.

What I can say, is that when you hit the throttle, the tires on the big sedan have a difficult time gaining traction and the sound coming from the exhaust is pure American V8, which is why I rarely had the stereo on.

A week was simply not enough time for me as this car definitely slides into the top 10 of my favorite cars. It’s big, bold and bad and, as I’m sure you can tell, I really like it. It doesn’t come cheap; basing at nearly $48,000, it doesn’t take many adds to hit $50,000 but it offers a lot of bang for the buck. So if you need a big sedan but lust after a performance car, look no further than the 2012 300 SRT8. It really is a beauty and a beast.


Listen for Two for the Road Vignettes with Bill Z. and Cathy D. Monday thru Friday on KXXT1010AM. To read more in-depth reviews, go to www.twofortheroadusa.com.

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