2024 Fiat 500e

MIAMI — Ending a 5-year absence, Fiat is reintroducing the electrified version of its iconic 500 mini-wagon to the U.S. market with the 2024 Fiat 500e.With its alluring Italian styling and ability to adapt to tight spaces both on the go and when parking, the 2024 Fiat 500e would seem to be an appealing option for those in the market for a small electric runabout and don’t do a lot of hauling.

But there is one issue at least I believe that may impinge on sales. When it was last available in the U.S., the 2019 Fiat 500e’s battery provided only about 84 miles of driving range, which at the time matched up well with its competitors.

Fiat has improved that with the 2024 500e, but only to the extent that the distance between charges is just 149 miles, which is sadly lacking at a time when competitors are putting out models with ranges well over 200 and even over 300 miles and with a considerable boost in horsepower.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is rated at only 117 horsepower 162 pound-feet of torque. Fortunately, there isn’t a ton of mass to get it moving (less than 3,000 pounds) but the zero-to-60 time of 8.5 seconds still lags behind typical electric vehicles. Will, except maybe for golf carts.

The restricted range also kind of limits the role of the 2024 Fiat 500e to that of a second car in the family for daily commutes to your job or running errands (though rear storage is only 7.0 cubic feet). Forget long vacation trips.

Springing for your own private 240-volt charging source ($750 to $1,750) is a must because wait times at public outlets can be excruciatingly long, though charging times aren’t overly long once a spot becomes available.

I hooked up to a 150kW outlet when my test 2024 Fiat 500e was at 36 percent (49 miles) and it took only about 20 minutes for it to reach 70 percent (109 miles) before it shut off for some reason. Fiat claims an 85kW system can add 31 miles in just 5 minutes.

Hooking up to a 110-volt outlet at your home via the provided charging cord remains an option if you want to charge your vehicle overnight.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is available in three forms with the Red edition serving as the base. Currently, the other two versions are theme-based, Inspired by Music and Inspired by Beauty.

Beauty served as the trim for my test 2024 Fiat 500e and what it lacks in power (all models have the same powertrain) it makes up for in standard features.

They include wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, keyless entry and push-button start, a rear parking assist system, Stellantis’ UConnect5 infotainment system with navigation and a 10.25-inch touchscreen, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, and a 6-speaker audio system.

Safety features include lane-departure and blind-spot warning with cross-traffic detection, 7 airbags, traffic sign information, driver drowsiness detection, and electronic stability control.

The 2024 Fiat 500e is front-wheel drive, rides on 17-inch wheels, and can be driven in one-pedal mode, though that takes some getting used to.  (The slowing can be abrupt.) LED headlights and taillights also are standard.

Three drive modes are available. Normal is, well, normal. Range sets up one-pedal operation and Sherpa limits top speed to 50 mph (goose it and power resets from 57 kW to 87 kW for Normal operation and a top speed of 94 mph).

The base or Red version carries a starting MSRP of $34,095. Music and Beauty both start at $37,595 including the $1,595 destination and delivery fee.

What I liked about the 2024 Fiat 500e: It was a relief to know that when I entered a parking lot I wasn’t going to have trouble finding a space big enough to fit in. Despite the mini power numbers, the 500e is kind of fun to drive. Tech features are numerous. The Italian styling does make it stand out.

What I didn’t like about the 2024 Fiat 500e: Touchscreen commands sometimes are slow to respond to touches. The rear seat is about the smallest I have ever encountered. Rear storage space also is limited (7.0 cubic feet). Driving range is poor considering what other EVs are offering these days.

Would I buy the 2024 Fiat 500e? No. It’s too small to begin with and I want more driving range from an EV.

— Paul Borden