New Car Review: 2014 Fiat 500L by Marty Bernstein +VIDEO
THE BIGGER LITTLE ITALIAN SEDAN HAS ARRIVED
By Marty Bernstein
The Auto Channel
We all know the Italians are famous for their food, clothing, shoes, leather goods, opera, churches, fountains, towers that tilt and those cute little cars parked on sidewalks. Most of those cute little cars are Fiat’s, specifically the Fiat 500 which was been around for decades. But for many in America, while cute and agile, the 500 is just a bit cramped for 4 normal size adults. No more.
Say ciao (hello) to the bigger, bolder, bodacious all new 2014 Fiat 500L. The “L” stands for longer, larger and liberating. This is a great vehicle for those who want distinctive Italian design in small sedan at an affordable price that will actually hold four normal size adults in a very well appointed and equipped spacious interior with more glass than I’ve ever seen in a car. It has a top hat high roof line with a huge powered dual paned sun roof providing 360 degree sightlines, lots of legroom in comfortable front and rear seats which were designed for Americans slightly larger posteriors. The 500L has power to spare, gets reasonable gas mileage at 28 mpg combined and importantly is really fun to drive.
The test drive in Baltimore, Maryland was through urban, suburban and country roads in moderate to heavy traffic over lots of smooth and not so smooth surfaces but the touring car tuning made the ride/drive comfortable and very quiet. There were a few sudden stops but the brakes are solid and quick. The turbo powered 4-cylinder, 1.4 liter engine of 160 horsepower gets a fine 184 lbs of torque – remember it’s torque not hp that lets you the sudden power to merge quickly, smoothly, effortlessly on expressways or to avoid an obstacle when necessary.
As tested the 500L I drove had a six speed manual transmission that was smooth and effortless to use. Even those who have been deprived on the fun, yes it is fun, of a stick shift especially on winding roads will find it an easy skill to learn in just a few minutes. For those not-so-adventuresome an automatic six speed transmission will be available in a few months.
Four trim levels are available starting with the very well equipped Pop model which can be enhanced with the, Easy, Trekking and Lounge versions. A full list of the features and attributes is found at the end of this article. Pricing starts at $19,990 and ramps up to the mid-twenties depending on model. Fiat promises to “Premier Packages deliver no-charge technology features and more than $1,700 of added value on Fiat 500L Easy, Trekking and Lounge models,” Naturally there are lots of other infotainment options available.
For those of artistic persuasion there are 10 exterior paint colors available in metallic and non-metallic, plus the availability of the “floating” roof available in several body colors. In addition, the interior environment on the Fiat 500L model range is accented by unique instrument panel color and material choices, steering-wheel color and material options and an array of seating designs offering different colors and materials with corresponding door panel and head restraint colors. For those who would like to be auto designers and configure their own Fiat 500L go on-line at http://www.fiatusa.com. It is fun.
Bottom line? The new Fiat 500L it’s the best of other small sedans -- the Mini Cooper Countryman lacks the spaciousness and quietness of the 500L while the smaller Kia Soul and Nissan Cube are eclipsed the Pop models styling, features and handling. It is the best of Italian sophistication and American sensibility. Arriving now at Fiat studio (their name for dealers) near you. Drop by to “dire ciao a un buon acqustio” that’s say hello to a good buy in Italian.
2014 Fiat 500L Features
FIAT 500L POP
Premium Koni frequency selective damping (FSD) front struts and rear shock absorbers, bi-halogen headlamps with daytime running lamps, body-color fascias, roof and body-side moldings, 16-inch steel wheels with chrome-accented wheel covers and 205/55R16 all-season tires, tire repair kit, stainless steel exhaust tip, black exterior mirrors with driver and passenger heated side-spotter mirrors, rear window washer/wiper and defroster, air conditioning, power windows with one-touch up/down, power door locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control, body-color instrument panel, six speakers, Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) with trip computer with miles-to-empty, average fuel economy and tire-pressure monitoring (TPM) display; steering wheel controls, six-way cloth seats with driver and front-passenger height adjust, 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks with segment-exclusive fore-aft adjustment, recline and tumble/slide feature; tilt and telescoping steering column, 12-volt console and auxiliary power outlets, multi-position cargo area trunk panel, cap-less fuel-filler door, floor mats, interior observation mirror and dual sun visors with vanity mirrors.
In addition, the Fiat 500L Pop includes the innovative Uconnect 5.0 with its 5-inch touchscreen display, radio voice commands, handsfree phone, Bluetooth-audio streaming, text-message reader, personalization settings and media hub (USB and auxiliary ports) for seamless integration of portable devices. Safety features include seven standard air bags, reactive front head restraints, vehicle theft security alarm, child seat anchor system and electronic stability control (ESC) with Hill-start Assist.
FIAT 500L EASY
More comfort and other features are added to the Fiat 500L Pop model including standard 16-inch aluminum wheels, deep-tint rear glass, body-color exterior mirror caps, front seat center console with armrest, leather-wrapped square-in-circle designed steering wheel, premium leather-wrapped shift knob with chrome accent, vinyl-wrapped instrument panel available in three colors, unique cloth seat fabric and six-speaker FIAT premium audio system with 520-watt amplifier.
FIAT 500L TREKKING
Trekking adds to the Fiat 500L Easy model with aggressively designed two-piece front and rear fascias with graphite inserts, fog lamps, satin-finished “whiskers,” door handles and unique lower front and rear fascia accents; Different wheel arch and body-side sill moldings, recessed license plate area and lower left and right side-reflector surrounds, and larger 17 x 7-inch aluminum wheels with 225/45R17 all-season tires. Inside, the Fiat 500L Trekking features a painted instrument panel bezel and a unique two-tone black/brown interior environment that carries through on its leather-wrapped steering wheel, door and door-panel armrest bolsters, low-back bucket premium cloth seats and floor mats.
FIAT 500L LOUNGE
This model reflects stylish lifestyle and need for premium appointments and convenience technologies, the all-new 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge model adds on to the Fiat 500L Easy model with an innovative Euro Twin Clutch six-speed transmission, 16-inch aluminum wheels, fog lamps, chrome body-side moldings and mirror caps, dual sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, premium vinyl-wrapped instrument panel available in two colors, premium heated leather front seats with power four-way adjust, two-way power driver’s side lumbar, 60/40 split-fold rear seatbacks with segment-exclusive fore-aft adjustment, recline and tumble features; integrated armrest with cup holders, automatic dual-zone climate control and auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass.