If there’s a vehicle to pep up your spirits with its fun design and personality, it’s a Fiat. So when the 2020 Fiat 500L arrived in my driveway recently it solved a case of the Monday blues. Ironically, though my vehicle was the Trekking trim, I knew the only “trekking” I would be doing would be close to home, grabbing curbside pickup and other safely-run errands around town.
The four-door 2020 Fiat 500L is officially a wagon. The L is important because the designation means 42 percent of extra interior space -- making it an impressively roomy five seater. The Trekking falls between the Pop and Lounge trims.
The Italian-inspired Fiat 500L is designed for the urban-set but the “L” adds some sporty cues with its flared wheel arches and unique 17-inch triple-spoke machined aluminum wheels. This one sports a two-toned exterior in Blue Tornado paint with a black Nero roof along with chrome door handles. Up front, I’d love to see LED headlights instead of the bi-halogen projectors. Exterior features include fog lamps, daytime running lights and power-folding side mirrors.
What immediately strikes you about the Fiat 500L’s interior is how roomy, airy and colorful it is. The main cabin feature is a large plastic dashboard in a glossy blue to match the exterior. It wraps around the infotainment system for a custom look. It also cradles an inset shelf on the passenger side.
The Trekking has comfortable, black leather-trimmed and heated, front bucket seats. A package adds power lumbar support for the driver (and manual lumbar for the passenger) along with dual zone A/C. You’ll also find a leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control and driver display buttons on the front to toggle through a digital display. It’s not equipped with push-button start but you do get a chrome leather-wrapped gear shift knob and ambient LED lighting.
There are a few things unusually placed but easy enough to get the hang of. The heated seat controls are on the sides of the seats themselves, not the center stack area. You’ll also find the stereo and volume controls on the back of the steering wheel, not the front, where your fingers land when gripping the wheel. It actually makes great ergonomic sense, but it’s something you don’t see in every vehicle.
The cabin is bright and airy inside thanks to all the glass real estate, including an optional panoramic sunroof. It’s expansive -- and while a great feature I’d suggest parking in the shade.
The Fiat 500L isn’t a complicated vehicle which makes it great for younger drivers who don’t need a bunch of distracting buttons. It’s also kind to back seat passengers -- because wow is it roomy back there, even for the middle seat. The stadium-style slightly elevated seating is comfortable and there are nice pockets built into the seatbacks. You’ll only find one cupholder in the center armrest.
The seats fold down in a 60/40 split and you can put the rear seatback down or slide it back for more legroom. Cargo space is surprisingly spacious with a cargo shelf and cargo lamp. There are cubby hole spaces on each side to hold smaller items. The cargo door is on the heavy side, however, so a power close button would be nice.
The UConnect Nav 4’s 7-inch color touchscreen, embedded into the center stack, seems crowded with graphics due to its size. But it’s responsive and the UConnect system is great. Navigation with voice command (which works great) comes with 3D graphics and Apple CarPlay, Android Auto along with Bluetooth are standard. The touchscreen also houses a standard backup camera and this adds an available rear park assist system. There are 2 USB ports, one for each row.
I enjoyed the 6-speaker Beats audio system. Don’t let the number of speakers fool you. With a subwoofer and trunk-mounted enclosure, the system sounds terrific in a vehicle this shape and size.
The Fiat isn’t about horsepower -- and 160-ponies and 185 lb-ft of torque felt fine given its under 3,300 pound weight. Its 1.4-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder is mated to a 6-speed automatic and it rides on a touring-tuned chassis. It’s easy, nimble and fun to drive but the cabin could be quieter.
While the Fiat offers a backup camera and an available park assist system, I was surprised to discover that the Fiat 500L lacks a standard or optional safety suite of driver assist features.
This has a popular equipment group ($795), a dual pane power sunroof ($1,395), nero black roof ($345) and you’ll pay extra for a compact spare tire ($450).
The popular equipment group adds dual-zone climate, a 2-way manual adjusting passenger seat, the park sense rear assist system, 2-way power lumbar for the driver, and a rear view auto dimming mirror.
The Fiat 500L is big on personality and space, but the lack of driver assist features is a drawback and I’d like to see a few more convenience features as well like push-button start for its $28,000 price point.
2020 Fiat 500L Trekking
- What I liked most: Interior roominess, comfortable seating, Beats Stereo system.
- What I would change: Offer driver assistance technology.
- MSRP: Base $23,825, as equipped $28,305 with transportation.
- Fuel Economy: 22 city/ 30 highway/25 combined.
- Fuel Tank: 13.2 Gallons. Capless fuel filler on the passenger side.
- Dimensions: 168.3” long/70.9” wide/66.1” high.
- Weight: 3,254.
- Trailer Towing: N/A.
- Miles When Tested: 2,090.
- Official Color: Blue Tornado.
- Spare tire: Tire Service Kit. (Optional Compact Spare - $450)
- Final Assembly Point: Kragujevac, Serbia.
- 2020 Fiat 500L Trekking in a few words: An urban four-door designed to tackle city adventures.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile Basic Warranty and Powetrain Warranty. 4-Year/Unlimited Mile Roadside assistance.
- Manufacturers website: Fiat