Fiat 500: The Least Popular Car in America?

2016 Fiat 500

When the price of gas was getting close to $5 per gallon, Americans clamored for small, economical European cars such as the Fiat 500.

Fiat obliged after taking over Chrysler, and not only did it bring the 500 to U.S. shores, but it brought an entire family of 500-based cars including the 500L and 500X. Americans should have been thrilled. We should have flocked to our local Fiat dealerships and begged them to take our money.

That didn’t happen. Instead, dealers have struggled to even get the car in front of people, which has put the 500 among the slowest-selling vehicles in America. What happened? How did Fiat go from a desirable foreign brand to being shunned on dealer lots?

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Renegade? That’s Not a Renegade

Renegade? That's not a Renegade...

Oh, how the Renegade has fallen.

Picture a Jeep Wrangler Renegade in your mind, and you’ll likely see an American-made, brutish, square-shaped, dirt-covered, rock-hopping jacked-up SUV on oversize tires.

That’s the Renegade of the past, which was actually an option package offered for the Wrangler from 1991 to ’94.

The Renegade of the future is a FIAT with a 7-slot grille.

There’s not anything wrong with that, per se, it’s just not what one would expect from the Renegade name. I totally get it—there’s an economic demand to create vehicles with low price tags and high miles per gallon. Why is it necessary, though, to mess with history to make it happen?

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