Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Inc.’s (NYSE: FCAU) efforts to keep a toehold for Fiat in the United States have been a failure so far, with its low and falling sales. The brand was dealt another blow as its flagship 500 was listed as one of Consumer Reports “10 Least Reliable Cars” in its new 2017 reliability study.
Along with J.D. Power’s study of cars used by car buyers, the Consumer Reports research is carefully followed by consumers. It covers tests of over 640,000 cars. Its results “show how well vehicles have held up and the odds that an owner could be inconvenienced by problems and repairs.”
In its evaluation of the 500, Consumer Reports said:
The 500’s alert handling, free-revving engine, and crisp-shifting manual make it engaging to drive. The base engine and manual returned 33 mpg overall, but it lacks low-end thrust. On all versions the ride is choppy and the cabin noisy. Headroom up front is good, but some will find the steering wheel to be too far away and the driving position awkward. The tight rear seats are difficult to access, and the cargo area is minuscule. The convertible top can be pulled back like a sunroof or fully dropped. The Abarth is quick and grips well, and the electric 500e is enjoyable for its silence and efficiency. The 500 scored a Poor in the IIHS small-overlap crash test.
Through September, Fiat sales are off 15% to 21,252. Sales of all 500 models, the base version, 500L and 500X, were down. The only bright spot was the new Spider, with sales that hit 3,765, up from 1,431 last year. The Spider’s numbers are skewed because it was only available for part of 2016.
Fiat’s quality has been questioned in other studies. The company also competes in the crowded low-price, high gas mileage segment, which is dominated by larger manufacturers. For these reasons, the chances of its survival in the United States appear to fall with each month’s numbers.