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Published: Friday, 12/24/2010

Fiat coming back to U.S. dealerships in January

Fiat is coming back to America, and sooner rather than later.

The 2012 Fiat 500 goes on sale in January at about 130 dealerships in the United States, including Yark Auomotive Group in Sylvania Township. Most dealers selected have a relationship with Chrysler. Additional dealers will follow in the next two years as the Fiat lineup increases to include a convertible and other models.

Chrysler has said dealers that sell the Fiat must create a separate showroom for the brand, but because some dealers received approval only in mid-November, the company is allowing for some breathing room before that requirement kicks in. One official at Yark said the Fiat dealership will go in the current Subaru showroom, which is moving down West Central Avenue into the former Saturn of Toledo dealership.

The base Fiat 500, called the Pop, starts at $15,500, not including the as-yet undisclosed shipping fee.

Standard equipment includes air conditioning, an AM-FM stereo with CD and MP3 players and six speakers, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, and seven airbags. Additional safety features include antilock disc brakes, stability control, and traction control.

Power for all 500 models will be a 1.4-liter, 101-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with a five-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic will be optional. The 500's fuel mileage is expected to average about 40 mph; 87-octane gas can be used, but Fiat suggests 91-octane.

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