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Cars America Missed Out On: Fiat Panda 4x4

Small car, great abilities.

If there’s one small car that has some off-road capabilities that we wouldn’t be embarrassed to drive, it’s the Fiat Panda 4x4. A variant of the highly popular Panda, the 4x4 simply started out as a raised version of the little hatchback equipped with tires better suited for off-road. Now, in no means is the Panda 4x4 an outright replacement for a truck or SUV. What it is, however, is a durable little vehicle that’s been insanely popular in Italy ever since it debuted in mid-1983.

It was actually the first small car to be equipped with a transverse-engined 4WD system. Power initially came from a small inline-four engine paired to a manual gearbox. It had a few facelifts over the years, but it actually remained in production until May 2003. The second-generation Panda 4x4 arrived in 2004, and the new, third-gen model debuted in 2013. But it was the original that’s become famous, having been on the market for 23 years. To this day, one can go anywhere in Italy and you’ll see plenty of those old, but still going strong little Panda 4x4s just about everywhere.

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