In my neighborhood I saw a lot of the tiny Smart cars when they first came out, and while I loved the look, I was concerned about the safety. Now the latest hot car is the FIAT 500C, which I see frequently. Again, I think they're really cute, but I worry about the safety aspects of such a small vehicle. I guess I can quit worrying now, after reading an article in USA Today, which says the FIAT was a top safety pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Here are excerpts:
Fans of Fiat spokeswoman Jennifer Lopez can rest easier now -- the object of their affection is cruising the streets in the Fiat ads in a Top Safety Pick.
The little 2012 Fiat 500 answered one of the questions always asked about minicars (But is it safe?) by earning coveted Top Safety Pick status in the minicar category in the battery of tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the insurance industry's research group.
The only other minicar that has earned Top Safety Pick status to date is the 2011-12 Ford Fiesta.
To earn the IIHS award, a vehicle must score the top rating of Good for occupant protection in front-offset, side, rear and rollover crash tests, plus have an electronic stability system (now standard on all 2012 models).
The Fiat 500 crash-test dummy's neck and chest showed a low risk of injury through the testing.
The dummy, showed a potential pelvis fracture in the side-impact crash test in which the vehicle is struck in the side by a barrier moving at 31 mph -- the barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV.
In the IIHS' roof-strength test, which requires the vehicle's roof to withstand the force of four times the vehicle's weight, the sturdy little 500 withstood an impressive 6.16 times its weight.
Buyer alert: Top Safety Pick status applies only to 500s built since July, according to IIHS. Models built earlier had weaker seat structures that could cause more harm to front passengers. You can check when a vehicle was built on a label affixed to the driver-side door jamb.
And as Drive On always reminds you: A Top Safety Pick offers the top protection in the vehicle class, however small, but the laws of physics still apply if you take on, say, a Suburban.