Don’t get too excited about the 2019 Fiat 500e unless you live in California or Oregon. Those are the only two states in which it is available. If you are a resident of one of those states, you’ll find the 500e to be somewhat of a bargain in the electric vehicle (EV) segment. Having said that, it is much more expensive than the gasoline 500. The good news is that it still qualifies for thousands of dollars in government incentives. Sadly, it also seems a little long in the tooth when compared to EV competitors like the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf.
Otherwise, Fiat has modeled the 500e after the 500, meaning it is a stylish, fun-to-drive little car.
What’s New for 2019?
The 2019 500e arrives unchanged. See the 2019 Fiat 500e models for sale near you
What We Like
- Great handling
- Fashionable styling inside and out
- Lots of standard equipment
- Huge incentives and low lease rates make it cheaper than it seems
What We Don’t
- Only sold in California and Oregon
- Rivals have much more space and go farther on a charge
- Cramped headroom with sunroof
- None of the popular safety/driver-assist technologies
The Fiat 500e offers one engine: An 83-kWh electric motor with a single-speed transmission. Power is rated at 111 horsepower. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the 500e’s fuel economy at 112 MPGe in combined driving. Importantly, the 500e boasts an 84-mile range and a 4-hour-or-less recharge time when using a 240-volt power supply. While good in the past, that range is now merely average. A push-button shifter control operates the continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Standard Features & Options
Fiat offers the 500e in two trim levels: 500e and E-Sport. Prices include the $1,495 factory destination charge.
The entry-level 500e ($34,490) comes standard with 15-in alloy wheels, cruise control, fog lamps, bifunctional halogen headlights, full-power accessories, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front bucket seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, a Uconnect 3 infotainment interface with a 5-in touchscreen, an Alpine audio system with satellite-radio capability and a navigation system, seven airbags, hill-start assist, a ParkSense rear parking system and back-up camera and remote keyless entry.
The E-Sport ($34,985) is primarily the 500e with a few appearance enhancements inside and out. A power sunroof is optional on both grades.
The 2019 Fiat 500e boasts several standard safety features, including 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, rear parking sensors, stability control, front-side airbags, side-curtain airbags and a driver’s-knee airbag.
In federal government crash tests, the Fiat 500e has yet to be tested. But gas-powered 500 models, which should perform largely the same, received four stars overall — a figure that breaks down to four stars in front and rollover tests and five stars in the side-impact assessment.
In crash testing carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the gas-powered 500 earned generally Good ratings, save for a troubling Poor score in the firm’s newer, more stringent small-overlap front crash test.
Behind the Wheel
The Fiat 500e seems to make no major compromises for its all-electric capabilities. In fact, it’s the rare car that’s actually been improved by its conversion to electricity. It’s surprisingly quick off the line and very quiet — the regular 500 is neither of those things. The 500e is also surprisingly composed in turns, offering a tight, sporty feel, especially for an electric car.
In terms of appearance, the 500e is also highly similar to a typical Fiat 500. There are only a few distinctive upgrades on the outside, while interior revisions primarily revolve around added standard equipment and the addition of four center-mounted buttons in place of the gear lever.
There’s also an instrument-panel readout for battery level, power flow and other important EV items.
In terms of space, the 500e is much smaller than other EVs. However, compared to the regular 500, it doesn’t suffer too badly for carrying around a bunch of batteries. The battery pack does chew into rear seat legroom, but as there wasn’t much to begin with, we doubt that’ll be an issue. More importantly, unlike other EVs based on gasoline cars, the cargo capacity is diminished only slightly. True, there’s still not a lot relative most cars on the road, but as this is a hatchback, you still get a reasonably versatile space when the rear seats are folded.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Chevrolet Bolt — The Chevrolet Bolt is arguably the most appealing EV on the market, boasting a massive 238 miles of range, a spacious cabin and surprisingly sharp driving dynamics.
2019 Hyundai Ioniq EV — Although it can’t go as far as the Bolt, the new Ioniq Electric nevertheless tops most other rivals with its 124 miles of range. It also offers commendable interior space and a more conventional body shape.
2019 Kia Soul EV — The Soul also goes a bit farther than the norm, and like the 500e, boasts a funky design available in fun colors. Unlike the 500e, it has a huge cabin that rivals a small SUV. Ample feature content rounds out its virtues.
2019 Nissan Leaf — Decent range, user-friendly interior and a relatively low price make this EV a solid choice for environmentally concerned drivers.
Used BMW i3 — BMW’s little i3 is a perfect car for any urban commute. It’s also neatly futuristic with its carbon fiber structure, eco-friendly cabin materials and a funky design that’s oddly cool. It’s available with a gasoline extended range model too. It’s more expensive than the 500e, so a used model will most likely be in order.
Live in California or Oregon. Or at least move there. If you don’t, you can forget about the 500e. Otherwise, with only one trim level to consider, there’s not much to recommend beyond thinking twice about the optional sunroof — it seriously robs front headroom. Find a Fiat 500e for sale