When most Americans think of a Fiat, the Italian brand making a re-entry into America in recent years due to its connection with Chrysler — they think of tiny vehicles. The larger 2014 Fiat 500L is out to change that perception, and I’m here with my thoughts on the vehicle after some time behind the wheel.
This is a hip-looking ride, no doubt about it. It’s very attractive and has somewhat unique styling (though it’s somewhat MINI Cooper-esque from a distance).
It’s a very European look, and you’ll definitely be noticed driving this vehicle. The windshield is much larger than on other vehicles, and you have the unique features of partial windows on the left and right to provide even clearer vision of the road ahead and on your sides.
Inside, it’s very roomy for a Fiat. The back seat has a decent amount of leg room and plenty of room for a car seat. You even get a decent amount of trunk space.
When seated in the Fiat 500L, both front and back, you’ll feel a bit higher than usual. The front seats are elevated higher than in most vehicles, and the back seats are even higher, offering a unique feel to your ride.
ENGINE, DRIVE QUALITY
The 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Fiat 500L is not overly powerful, but it will get you around town adequately. At 160 horsepower, just don’t expect it to know your socks off. My overall feeling driving this car was very positive, as the handling was responsive and you could easily maneuver it where you needed to go.
One warning: It is a bit noisy inside the vehicle, as the road noise is not blocked out as well as I would have liked.
The mpg rating was good but not great, listed at 27 average (24 city, 22 highway); My numbers were a little bit lower than that.
The UConnect 5.0 infotainment system is standard, and my test vehicle had the optional UConnect 6.5 touchscreen with GPS, rear back-up camera and rear park assist. This system works very well to help you control the vehicle and get where you need to go, but it’s worth noting that many other vehicles in the Chrysler family feature a larger and even more user-friendly 8.4 inch touchscreen.
Bluetooth and USB connections are standard, a must in any new car these days.
You get a booming sound system (and an option to upgrade to include Beats technology), a smart move to try to lure a younger audience — the natural target — even more to this vehicle.
$20,195 is the base price on the Fiat 500L I tested (There are multiple trim levels on the 500L, starting as low as $19K). Additional features such as the sunroof, heated front seats and the white roof, and the total on my test vehicle went past $25K.
The Fiat 500L distinguishes itself from the other vehicles on the road, something that is not easy to do these days. It’s not the most powerful ride, but it’s a larger Fiat machine with plenty of passenger and storage space and that is bound to attract a new class of customer to the brand as it continues to reintroduce itself to the U.S. I don’t think the Fiat line will top any sales charts anytime soon, but with the addition of a new and bigger model like the 500L, Fiat has a much better shot to do well and improve its standing in this country.