The Fiat 500 is winning fans and increasing sales fast in the United States.
Maybe it's because of fun ads starring bad boy actor Charlie Sheen and striking Romanian model Catrinel Menghia; or maybe it's because the design and size of the minicar set it apart in the land of beefy pickups, sedans and SUVs. Whatever the reason, the 500 is generating more smiles than an ice cream truck on a hot summer day.
I recently got to experience a sampling of America's love for the car while driving the 500 in southwest Florida. Tollbooth operators, who are not known for being overly friendly, were quick to smile and compliment the 500. Parking lot attendants told me how much they liked the car. People walking their dogs waved. Even a kid playing catch with a baseball on his front lawn stopped to stare at the 500 as we cruised past. In nearly a decade of testing cars, I have never experience such an outpouring of unsolicited affection for a new model.