2014 FIAT 500L: First drive review
FIAT brings some Italian flair to the highly competitive B-segment.
Cab-forward design, pillars hidden by dark glass and two-tone roof paint are FIAT 500L trademarks. More aggressive styling, such as chin scoops and 17-inch multispoke wheels, mark this as a Trekking model.
FIAT has been doing great business selling the adorably cute 500. But FIAT dealers can't live on one model alone, so with FIAT's extensive model line in the home country to draw on, it's no surprise the Italian giant has quickly brought a larger, B-segment sedan to the U.S. The resulting FIAT 500L revisits the 500's style in fashioning a car for the much more cutthroat 4-door sedan market where buyers are not wanting for choice.
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Dedicated to the idea that amenities and small cars are a good mix, FIAT is not skimping on 500L features, and is offering a four-car range to suit buyer budgets and desires.
The entry-level Pop comes with a manual transmission and 16-inch steel wheels shod with Continental or Goodyear all-season tires. It's offered in five of the 10 500L colors, and forgoes the two-tone paint treatment (black or white roof) that's optional on all other 500Ls. Dark window tinting is also not available on the Pop. But aside from the more limited appearance options, the Pop is mechanically well equipped, enjoying the same 4-wheel disc brakes, turbocharged engine, tilt steering and connectivity. Inside, the Pop offers only the gray color treatment in cloth, and while air conditioning is standard, automated temperature control is not available.
Those finding the Pop lacking in features will undoubtedly see the $1,000 step up to the Easy trim as money well spent. Nicely equipped stock, and offering almost all other 500L features as options, the Easy is where premium cloth upholstery is standard, along with leather touch points such as the steering wheel and shift knob. A huge sunroof is available, as is a bicolor roof option and a choice of nine exterior colors. We expect this to be the most popular 500L variant.
Not so much a vertical move up the feature ladder as a lateral nod to those with active lifestyles, the Trekking trim employs the Easy's content and options, but fashions itself for the kayaking and mountain-bike crowd. Most of this is done with unique fascias and styling cues, plus a few key interior trim items. The idea behind the Trekking is a more aggressive, premium look.
Topping the 500L line is the all-out Lounge. Luxury is the game here: Heated leather seats, chromed heated exterior mirrors, automatic climate control and Sirius XM radio are all standard.
For those not buying a Pop, FIAT is offering a 500L inaugural-year incentive: the $1,745 Premier package at no charge. It includes a larger touch screen, a backup camera, navigation and rear parking assist. In a sign of the times, there is no CD player in the 500L lineup; instead, there are auxiliary ports, USB and an SD card.
Under the hood
It looks like a giant 500, but the 500L is a completely different car. It's built on a near-midsize platform with a MacPherson strut front suspension and a twist beam rear axle with coil springs.
All 500Ls are powered by the 1.4-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged intercooled engine commonly referred to as the MultiAir Turbo in FIAT and Chrysler circles (Chrysler is owned by FIAT). It produces 160 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 184 lb-ft of torque at 2500 rpm while burning 91 octane premium, but 87 octane is allowed.
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I would buy it all over again! So poo-poo on those with all the negative comments! Whats up with that?
Great car back in 1961. It was just really hard to compete against the vw beetle. I had one that was passed down from my brother that my parents bought for him at 16. My brother moved up to another car at some point and my dad kept it as transportation. When I was 15, with a drivers permit, my dad trained me to drive the 4 speed straight shift.
The fiat was water cooled back then where the vw beetle was air cooled.
The doors were suicide doors. (Opened from the front back. Hinged at the back instead of at the front).
It was one tough little vehicle!
I love it! is not so big, but is not so small even do I love my 500top, I changed for the 500L and Rick Case Fiat in Weston is so friendly and helpful that this is my 3rd Fiat in less than 2 yrs.! amen..! .