Test Drive: 2014 Fiat 500L Review

Although I was only going to have it a few days, I paid to have the windows tinted so people couldn’t see me inside the car. I parked it in front of a neighbor’s house I don’t like. I found myself yearning for a Smart Car. It’s so slow, snails use it as a treadmill. The cops think their radar gun is broken.

OK, enough making fun of the 2014 Fiat 500L. It has some positive attributes, but wow-do I find it ugly to look at.

This new Fiat model is 2-feet longer than the original Fiat that hit the United States in 2011. It also has 2 more doors. Fiat calls it a UUV, an Urban Utility Vehicle, but I call it a station wagon.

Under the hood, it has a 1.4-liter turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that puts out 160-horses. This larger Fiat weighs over 3200 pounds, so the horsepower is barely adequate. The transmission is a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic.

On the plus side, the car is incredibly roomy inside. People 6’4” can easily fit in this car, and the backseat is large with a lot of leg room. You can actually put three normal sized adults in the back seat. Cargo area is exceptional too, especially with the back seat folded down. The driver and front passenger seats are wide and comfortable.

The 500L has big doors and with the upright roof line, it is easy to slide into the car. Once you’re seated, you have an excellent field of vision that comes from the Fiat’s large glass area. The dash of the 500L is contemporary and well laid out. The instrument cluster looks great and is easy to read. The dials deliver information clearly, and the full-sized infotainment interface is easy to operate with no learning curve.

2014 Fiat 500LThe 500L comes in four trim levels; Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge. My tester is the Lounge model, the top of the line. This vehicle is actually very nicely equipped. It comes standard with power windows and locks, tilt wheel, cruise control, Bluetooth, integrated voice command, and steering wheel controls.
Options wise, this Fiat has dual-zone air conditioning, power lumbar support, rear seat armrest with cup holders, premium stereo with 6 speakers, power sunroof, and heated front seats. This one has navigation, backup camera, and rear parking assist.
Driving dynamics are mixed. The 500L feels top heavy, especially in curves. The automatic transmission is quirky and unresponsive at times. It shifts quickly to maximize fuel economy, which adds to the sluggishness, especially in town.
I will say that if you can get past the looks, the Fiat 500L is an exceptional value, it truly is. My tester is a light brownish tan called Mocha Latte. The entire roof is black, and the 16” wheels look way to small. The interior is black and gray, which is a bit of a head scratcher with the exterior color. I had hoped the looks would grow on me, but it is just not going to happen.

What I liked most: The value of the car.

What I would change: Everything about the exterior.

MSRP: Base price on the Lounge model is $20,195, as equipped $25,545.

Fuel Economy: 24 City/33 Highway. It is coming up a little short in town.

2014 Fiat 500 in a few words: Ray Charles would LOVE this car.

Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, and powertrain coverage.

Dealers: If you want to purchase a new Fiat, you are on your own.

Manufacturer’s website: http://www.fiat.com/com/500L

3 Comments
  1. Curtis B 4 years ago

    Jerry

    As far as the Smart Car goes, I am not sure whether to drive it, swat it, or wait for the rest of the carnival to catch up and pay the operator to ride it around in a circle for 4 minutes. Anyhoo, I am waiting for the next generation of electric cars that get 1000 miles on one charge of the batteries.

    In the next 5-10 years internal combustion engines will be old technology.

  2. Jim 4 years ago

    I am a six month owner of a 500L and just about everything in this review is cookie cutter from every other US review of this car. Ugly, Under powered, DCCT is bad, Blah, Blah, Blah. I dare you to find a US review that doesn’t follow this template. On the other hand all of the European reviews I have read love the styling and just about everything about the car. It is kind of like the ford Taurus. When it was first introduced, the press hated the styling and pretty soon all corners were sanded off of all cars. Park the 500L next to a Mini Clubman (which I have in my lot at work) and they look very similar except for the height.

    I drive it in Cleveland and have been asked to show it off several times. People love the Euro design and the visibility. I parked it next to a Soul and it looks very similar in the front end shape. The engine is fantastic. The turbo spools quickly and spins the tires on dry pavement without the ESC on. The DCCT shifts smooth and does a very good job of anticipating my highway, city and back road driving.
    I average 29 MPG on my weekly commute which is 18 miles each way with 42% highway and 58% city streets. On two 290 mile (each direction) trips to Michigan, I averaged 34 MPG when the speed was kept at 75 MPH, and on one leg I slowed down to 70 and added 1 MPG to 35.

    After 4700 miles, I can say that I have not had any issues beyond a bad battery from the factory, and a dealer who I wouldn’t recommend to my enemy. Stay away from Fred Martin Fiat.

    • Michele Sanders 4 years ago

      THANKS for listening to the show! I appreciate it and I am glad you are liking your Fiat. Generally, when that many car reviewers say the same thing, it’s not coincidence. I know I personally don’t look at any other reviews before I start writing.

      Keep me posted as time goes on. I am very interested in how these cars do as they age.

      GOOD to hear from you.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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