2014 Fiat 500
A two-door coupe and convertible smaller than even the Chevy Spark but with retro styling reminiscent of the 1950s Italian original. The 500C convertible is really a roll-back-roof-section take on the coupe, but both suffer confining, hard-to-access rear seats. Base models are disappointing performers. Turbo version is entertaining and our favorite, but comes only with manual transmission. Sporty Abarth editions are quick but pricey. Fuel-economy ratings span 30-34 mpg combined. Base-price range is $16,995-$26,895.See the CarPreview.com 2014 Electric and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Buying Guide for a review of the 2014 Fiat 500e EV pure-electric model.
2014 Fiat 500L
Introduced for model-year 2014 as a four-door hatchback companion to the smaller 500 line, the 500L approaches the compact-size-class dimensions of its Kia Soul and Mini Countryman competitors. You sit tall in an airy cabin with good rear-seat room, but the driving position is as awkward as in any 500. Cargo volume and composed ride and handling are assets. Fuel economy is mediocre and the twin-clutch automatic transmission drains driving enjoyment; try the manual. Fuel-economy ratings span 27-28 mpg combined. Base-price range is $19,900-$24,995.
2014 Ford Fiesta
A global design sold in basically the same configuration worldwide, these four-door sedans and hatchbacks shine for European-grade driving dynamics and a plethora of available features. A tight rear seat and a recalcitrant automatic transmission are big demerits. A model-year 2014 facelift brings a Ford-family front end and optional – and problematic — MyFord Touch telematics. Also new is an overachieving turbocharged three-cylinder engine option to go along with the standard four-cylinder. Top dog is the pocket-rocket ST hatchback with 197 horsepower but manual-transmission only. Fuel-economy ratings span 29-37 mpg combined. Base-price range is $14,795-$22,195.