After owning my 2012 Fiat 500 for about 5 months, I can say that the reliability has been exceptional. I live in Denver, Colorado where the winters can be tough, so it will be interesting to see how the Fiat handles in deep snow and ice... not to mention starting at temperatures as low as -20 degrees F.
Beside the typical maintenance items (oil changes, etc) it has been trouble-free so far.
I will have to admit that I'm "split" as to my feelings concerning the 2012 Fiat 500.
On the positive side, I have enjoyed the good fuel economy that has become a true selling point for the present day Fiats. My most recent fuel economy check has it achieving about 35 miles per gallon in the city and 40 miles per gallon on the highway -- similar to other four cylinder vehicles and about 3 times better than my 1976 Oldsmobile 98 Regency with a 455 cu in. 4bbl.
In addition, I'm partial to the wealth of "standard" features that this vehicle has - from automatic windows to "climate control", not to mention a very capable BOSE sound system, this vehicle compares quite comfortably with any other of the 2012 vehicles.
Not all, however, comes up so favorably for this vehicle.
It has a 1.1 liter engine that is decent enough for most commuting, but is limited as far as acceleration - if more "pep" is in your step, you may want to entertain a different manufacturer. It is quite suitable for running about town or a commuter vehicle.
Second... because this is such a small car, it lacks comfort and leg room inside. I have driven other four cylinder vehicles and the ride was more comfortable than the Fiat -- it seems "cramped" at times.
Also, while I'm very partial to the styling of the Fiat, it seems to lack true integrity of workmanship... kinda "cheap" and plastic - similar to the Kia when it first hit the market in the 1990s... it's kind of like a "rough" in the diamond instead of a "diamond" in the rough. Looks nice, but is really rather inexpensively produced - seats, dashboard, overall structural integrity; could be better.
Last, and most importantly -- how will the Fiats fair on this second push starting in 2012? Most of the warranty provisions are gone after just 5 years - so time will tell if they will prevail or be just another to fail like the Yugo. The economic selling price on these cars may be deterred just a bit by the higher cost of maintenance and replacement parts when they fail as well.
Time will tell all - but, in the meantime - I will continue to drive my Fiat. The "gripes" I have are minor by comparison and I basically feel that I did OK on my purchase; I think a Denver winter may be necessary to get a good feel for whether or not this has been a decent buy; will update accordingly.