It may be small, but it can take a beating.
Fiat’s tiny 500 model received top safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In order to receive the award, cars must earn top marks in front and side impact tests, in addition to tests measuring rear-impact whiplash. Cars must also have electronic stability control, a feature that allows drivers to stay in control when maneuvering quickly. The only other “minicar” to earn the award was the Ford Fiesta.
The safety award applies to 500s produced after July 2011, when modifications were made to the positioning of the driver’s seat.
Keep in mind that the award is given out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is a private group funded by auto insurance companies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which evaluates cars based on a different series of crash tests, has yet to rate the 500.
Drivers should keep in mind that ratings are based on crash tests which simulate impact with a car of a similar size. While the 500 may have done well in these tests, most cars on the road are larger. In the event of impact with a larger car, the smaller car (likely to be the 500) would suffer more significant shocks than the larger one.
But as small cars go, the Fiat 500 seems to be a safe bet.