Usually when I show up in the review vehicle of the week, friends and family freely express their opinions on the new model and I find these to mostly be favorable but sometimes polarized with love it/hate it reactions. Not so with the new 500L from Fiat where nearly everyone told me it was just flat out ugly.
The 2014 Fiat 500L is a ‘L’arger, ‘L’onger, four-door version of the modern “Cinquecento” 500 that arrived several years ago after the Italian automaker invested heavily into the Chrysler Group. It is surprisingly roomy inside for four adults, much in the way Scion surprised us years ago when they introduced their new little boxes on wheels.
For me, the new 500L seems like a shrunken modernized motorcoach but, alas, the only thing sexy about it is its Italian accent. But cars don’t need to be sexy to be relevant, and the new bigger Fiat is just that.
Here is a car that will fit many modern lifestyles as the family grows a bit larger yet your surroundings (AKA urban setting) remain cramped. My favorite thing about the L is Fiat chose to give it the peppy 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine cranking out 160hp and 184 lb. ft. of torque. This car, backed by the six-speed manual gearbox, is a fun little car to drive.
In the Fiat press kit, the automaker ‘L’ists six adjectives to denote the ‘L’ designation: Leveraging, Large, Loft, Liters, Lifestyle and Light. Supposedly it leverages itself on the success of its smaller sibling; gets larger by adding a set of rear doors and is dimensionally longer, wider and taller; offers loft in the form of style, comfort and panoramic views from its tall greenhouse; has the liters in the aforementioned powertrain; offers four models (Pop, Easy, Trekking and – another ‘L’ – Lounge) to fit individual lifestyles, and; provides human-friendly innovations for a “lightness” to improve the quality of life.
OK, ‘L’ost me on that ‘L’ast one, but the 500L does offer a good bit of content if that was their interpretation.
Our review model arrived in the 500L Easy trim that includes leather steering wheel and shift knob and rides on 16-inch aluminum wheels shod with all-season tires. Fiat includes a full host of power amenities and all the latest in basic safety technology and the Easy package upgrades the audio system to one with a 520-watt amplifier via six speakers that is accessed from the standard five-inch touchscreen display that offers voice recognition, Bluetooth connectivity, text message reader, media hub and Uconnect 5.0.
Pricing for the 2014 Fiat 500L begins at $19,100 with our tester arriving at $20,995 after the inclusion of the premier package that upgrades the touchscreen to 6.5-inches and adds navigation and back-up camera along with ParkSense park assist. Fuel economy is rated at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
I enjoyed driving the ‘L’ittle bit ‘L’arger 500L, especially after all my friends and family got their opinions aired and finally shut up about it. I get it, it’s not pretty – deal with it.