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- Highs Comfortable ride, roomy interior, quality infotainment system.
- Lows Disappointing powertrain, underwhelming driving dynamics, cheap-looking interior materials.
- Verdict The Fiat 500L is purely a budget-minded small family hauler, and there are plenty of better choices available.
The 500L was Fiat’s second model after returning to the U.S. market with the tiny, retro 500 two-door hatchback. The 500L was a bit closer to American size, still a subcompact, but with a capacious, upright five-passenger interior belying its diminutive exterior size. It’s a “multi-purpose vehicle” in Euro terms—a mini-minivan to U.S. consumers, with four conventional doors instead of sliders. Being a Fiat, the 500L emphasizes the Italian flair for design, with inviting two-tone interior options inside a vaguely quaint exterior, serving families seeking a versatile small, inexpensive vehicle with a modicum of style.
What's New for 2017?
Fiat initially sold the 500L with manual gearbox and dual-clutch automatic transmission options and added an Aisin six-speed automatic in 2015. For 2017, it has dropped all but the six-speed automatic, now the only transmission available. Also for 2017, Fiat has axed the Easy model, leaving three trim levels.
- Pop: $21,990
- Trekking: $23,990
- Lounge: $24,690
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Fiat 500L is available with just one powertrain, a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline four, making 160 horsepower and putting power to the front wheels via an Aisin six-speed automatic. The powertrain is underwhelming. It feels adequate at city speeds but trails off when accelerating out on the highway. Ride is as compliant as one would want while shuttling a small family around, and the steering feels relaxed, although there's significant body lean in corners. The 500L delivers the type of staid dynamics and performance consumers should expect of a cheap but stylish small car with a decently comfortable interior.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Trim levels for the 500L are called Pop, Trekking, and Lounge. They are defined more by their individual design themes than as step-up options. Pop is cheap, cheeky, and cheerful; Trekking evokes a more rugged and outdoorsy feel; and Lounge reflects chic Italian style, replete with handsome two-tone leather seats. Overall, the interior materials are disappointing, with too much cheap, hard plastic. The 500L’s relatively tall, wide body provides decent space for four adults, though a fifth adult will find the middle-rear seat a tight fit. Cargo volume with the rear seat folded is 68 cubic feet, which would be impressive even for the next size category up.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The 500L comes standard with Fiat Chrysler’s intuitive UConnect infotainment system with a 5.0-inch display, USB ports, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker stereo. Optional navigation brings a 6.5-inch screen, and a Beats hi-fidelity audio system with nine speakers is available.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Fiat 500L’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.