Crossover & Midsize

Why Critics Are Bashing Fiat’s 2020 Line-Up

Fiat may have merged with Chrysler, but that doesn’t mean that the company is doing as well as Chrysler has been doing. While both companies are now owned by a company called Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles – or FCA – the car brands still continue to produce and sell their own cars. Here’s why Fiat’s 2020 lineup fell flat compared to everyone else’s.

Why Fiat is in last place

Consumer Reports did a ranking of car brands based on the average scores of all of their respective 2020 lineups. Essentially, what Consumer Reports did was it took the overall ratings of a brand’s cars and averaged them up. That overall rating includes things such as safety ratings, reliability ratings, road-test scores, and owner satisfaction scores. 

And, of the 33 different car brands that Consumer Reports ranked, Fiat was in last place. In particular, it scored very poorly in terms of its reliability rating and its owner satisfaction rating. In its road-test scores, the Italian automaker wasn’t actually the worst. The company averaged 59 out of 100 in road tests, which actually puts it above brands like Jeep and Mitsubishi. 

But, the overall score is what matters. And, of the three cars that are available in America, Consumer Reports gave them an average score of 43 out of 100. While Jeep and Mitsubishi, with average scores of 49 and 46, respectively, were close to Fiat, the automaker’s three cars simply were that bad. 

Which Fiats are in that lineup?

A Fiat 500X is seen at the 2020 New England Auto Show Press Preview at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
The 2020 Fiat 500X | Paul Marotta/Getty Images

Fiat is an Italian brand, so its cars are more suited for Italian tastes than American ones. As such, the automaker hasn’t really embraced what America loves right now – that being trucks and SUVs. Instead, two of the three cars that Fiat has available in the U.S. are small subcompacts that Americans are typically avoiding. 

Those small cars include the Fiat 500L and the Fiat 124, which is a convertible. Sedans are a shrinking market in the U.S., but convertibles are doing even worse. It also doesn’t help that Consumer Reports doesn’t really love either of these cars. While Consumer Reports gave the 124 an overall score of 64 out of 100, the 500L had a terrible score of 29 out of 100. 

The last car in Fiat’s American lineup is an SUV. Unfortunately, though, it’s a larger version of the 500 called the Fiat 500X. And, just like the 500L, Consumer Reports hated this Italian SUV. Consumer Reports gave the 500X an overall score of 35 out of 100. Unsurprisingly, both the 500X and the 500L are some of the worst cars in their segments. The 124, on the other hand, is actually one of the better convertibles out there.

What the automaker will have to change

While the Fiat 124 is a decent car, it’s harmed by the fact Americans don’t really want convertibles right now. This isn’t good for FCA’s bank account, but for the purpose of Consumer Reports’ ranking, the 124 doesn’t need many changes. It can always be better, but the Italian company should focus its energy on the other cars in its American lineup. 

Just due to math, since both the Fiat 500X and Fiat 500L scored so poorly, they dragged Fiat’s overall score down to the bottom. In order to improve Fiat’s standing in Consumer Reports’ eyes, Fiat will have to significantly overhaul both of these cars. 

Consumer Reports doesn’t really think there are any major bright spots for both cars, so Fiat really can just improve everything on them. One common complaint area, among many, is that both cars seem to offer an uncomfortable ride. While fixing that won’t be easy, it will be a good start to making either model tolerable to drive in at the very least.