While the 2014 Fiat 500L means well, I’m not totally convinced it’s got all the kinks out yet. However, it’s not a horrible option if you’re in the market for something a little off the beaten path that offers more room and decent fuel economy.
What is a Fiat 500L?
In not so flattering terms, the Fiat 500L is the 500’s fat, chubby big brother. With two more doors, the 500L is longer and bigger which means more room on the inside and an ungainly appearance on the outside.
In more flattering terms, the Fiat 500L is mini minivan in the same sense as the Kia Rondo and Mazda5. Quirky on the inside and out, the 500L has been around since early 2013 and was released in order to answer a need for more space.
2014 Fiat 500L Price and Specs
Like the regular 500, the 2014 Fiat 500L comes in a few different trim levels with cute little names like Pop, Sport, Trekking, and Lounge. With a starting price of $19,995 for the Pop version, the 500L stands to be an affordable little people mover. However, at the top of the pack, the Lounge can get a bit pricey hitting nearly $26k before any extras and personalization occurs.
My Lounge tester tipped the scales at just over $30k, and I’ve got to say that’s a bit much for what the 2014 Fiat 500L has to offer.
All four models are equipped with the same engine: a 1.4L 4-cylinder MultiAir Turbo good for 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Base models are equipped with a 6-speed manual transmission; however, a 6-speed Euro Twin Clutch autobox is available. Power is driven out the front wheels.
Driving the 2014 Fiat 500L
Speaking of driving, I actually quite enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the 2014 Fiat 500L. While it is rather like driving a bus (and not because it’s big, but because of the elevated driving position and angled steering wheel), it’s also quite fun. Add to that the fact that this little MPV was stick and you’ve got yourself a relatively good time.
While it’s not outwardly fast or sporty, the 2014 Fiat 500L does have a bit of pizzazz under the hood, and downshifts for a bit of oomph do deliver the results requested. At times, engine noise can be a bit much, but it’s only trying its best to please.
I was also fairly impressed with the handling in the 2014 Fiat 500L. Body roll is barely noticeable, and despite sketchy winter conditions, the 500L held its own and kept me on the straight and narrow and safely on the road.
As far as fuel consumption goes, the 2014 Fiat 500L delivered fairly close to its manufacturer promise. Over a week of highway and city driving combined, plus a long trek to the country, I averaged 9.7L/100km.
Inside and Out of the 2014 Fiat 500L
There really is no getting around it: The 500L is just not an attractive automobile. Where the 500 gets away with being bubbly and “cute,” the 2014 Fiat 500L just looks bloated and swollen; rather like a 500 that’s had a horrible allergic reaction to something. I can’t get over the bulbous front and puffed out rear. It just looks disproportionate. Somehow, MINI managed to engorge the Cooper properly, keeping the MINI look in the Countryman without sacrificing design. Fiat’s not quite there yet.
Inside, the 2014 Fiat 500L has some good features and some not-so-good ones. I’m thrilled to see that turning knobs have been added to the centre console so I don’t have to frantically push buttons for everything. I also appreciate the visibility of the high-up seating position and the wrap-around A-pillar windows (that look odd, but do serve a purpose).
While there is more space in the rear of the 2014 Fiat 500L, the front seats are still a bit cramped for taller occupants. I was also disappointed in how flimsy the doors felt in the 500L. I expected a car costing over $30k to feel a bit more solid and this Fiat just didn’t give me that sense. The rear liftgate is also extremely heavy for such a car, and the handle is at an awkward level (very low) for lifting, even for someone as vertically challenged as myself.
Comparing the 2014 Fiat 500L
As mentioned in the intro, the 500L has competition in the brand new Kia Rondo (watch out) and the well-established and always-pleasing Mazda5. What the 2014 Fiat 500L offers that the others don’t is a little bit of Italian flair that may not be for everyone, but a few will appreciate.