The 2012 Fiat 500, the rekindled iconic Italian sub-compact that reappeared in the U.S. market earlier this year, has been shunned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with only a three-star rating for crash safety — a rare low mark.
The little two-door Fiat 500 scored four stars in both the frontal and rollover crash tests, but its lowly mark occurred in the side impact crash test.
After faring well in the side barrier rating part of the side crash test, scoring five stars, the Fiat 500’s limited rear protection was only two stars out of a possible five for protecting a female rear seat passenger seated behind the driver in a 35-40 mph side-impact crash.
The only available vehicle tested the NHTSA that also received a two-star rating is the 2012 Dodge Caliber 4 DR FWD, manufactured by Chrysler.
Earlier this year, after modifications to improve driver's seat protection in frontal and rear crashes, the 2012 Fiat 500 has received a rare designation for a subcompact car — Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The designation applies only to Fiats built after July 2011, and the minicar joins the 2011 Ford Fiesta among the few small cars to receive the top safety classification.