The latest and most interesting Fiat is the 2014 500L which the Italian automaker refers to as an “urban utility vehicle (UUV).” It is also pretty apparent that Fiat is aiming its larger and beefy scoot right for younger buyers, who might also be peeping the Kia Soul, Nissan Cube and Juke and Scion xB. Even though the American brand Chrysler has a hand in Fiat, there is a however a je ne sais quoi appeal connected to the 500L that will make anyone on these shores feel oh-so-continental!
The uniquely styled tall hatchback/wagon is easy-on-the-eye and has a design appeal that absolutely draws you to its rugged and adventurous looks. The now family-friendly L is over two feet longer, 6 inches wider and has definitely inherited the height gene, as it is taller than its siblings. The L’s bigger size means better accommodations for the talls and pleasingly plumps. The vehicle can truly hold four adult passengers comfortably but three adults in the rear would be a tad much.
The attention-getter’s interior space is definitely noteworthy as even someone who is 6’6” can sit in the driver’s seat without uttering one complaint. Three kids in the rear are a natch but even two six footers can also occupy the seats squirm-free. The L’s lumbar-supportive seats are perfectly padded, bolstered just right for long trips. Hip, leg and headroom is also more than ample in the UUV.
Styling inside the L’s Euro-feel cabin is certainly a-plenty! As the L’s dash instrumentation are easy reads and fuss-free. The L’s tilt/telescopic steering wheel also has a nice feel. Technology is present and accounted for in the L. The optional premier package adds Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, that offers enhanced functionality for smartphones via the Bluetooth connection and is a real cinch to get it going. The package also comes with a 6.5-inch screen, GPS navigation, a rear view camera, and rear parking assist. The L’s optional six-speaker Beats audio sound is also a must-have if you love to groove as you cruise.
If you have not licked your car junk hoarding tendencies, the L has incredible trunk space at 23.1 cubes, it is a pack leader in this area. The L’s storage spaces are more than enough for any cubby-crazed family as well.
Here’s another reason to check out the booty-ful L, it’s GREAT visibility! The UUV offers unparalleled visibility all around! Obstructed views seem to be a major complaint from folks who drive similar crossovers, the L however has A-pillars that will not block your view and large side-view mirrors as well. And speaking of visibility, the optional panoramic sunroof is certainly worth adding on, as it allows a nice wash of natural sunlight throughout the cabin.
Getting down to the Euro’s performance on the road. The L is a smidge lackluster as far as acceleration off the line but once you get her going, she is quite capable of showing off. No one should however, expect snapback as far as performance, just because the L sports the name Fiat. Don’t get it twisted though, as the fun factor while driving the L is still evaaah-present! The L comes in four trim levels—Pop, Easy, Trekking (my test vehicle) and Lounge with a standard six-speed manual transmission and an available dual-clutch automatic. Under the hood lies a 1.4 liter MultiAir turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque. The L’s overall ride quality is comfy, smooth and makes you feel good about maneuvering the vehicle. The L also handles cornering like a champ with body roll that is barely there.
The L is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Top Safety Pick” offering such safety features as seven airbags, electronic stability control and antilock brakes. Fuel-wise, the L ain’t half bad on gas, coming in at an EPA rating 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway.
The 2014 Fiat 500L is a super value with prices starting at $21,595. The L seems to be the answer to the driving doldrums with styling and offerings that will make any family feel a little continental when hitting the open roads. Feeling a little continental however you can get it is always a good thing, capiche!