There is something decidedly Italian about the 2014 500L, not Ferrari, Maserati or Lamborghini Italian, but grabbing a fresh loaf of Filone di Renella on the way to Gucci to pick up a new pair of loafers Italian. It’s a bit more Italian than its closest competitor, the MINI Countryman is British. Allow me to elaborate…
I recently had the opportunity to take the 2014 Fiat 500L for a spin Around the Block for a quick road test review. This is actually the first of the TickTickVroom Around the Block reviews. (Stay tuned for two more Around the Block review of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and 2014 Cadillac CTS.)
For sale in the U.S. since 2011, the Fiat 500 is arguably one of the most stylish little cars ever t0 hit American asphalt, especially the Fiat 500 Gucci Edition. But, the bigger sibling of the 500, the 2014 Fiat 500L is a bit of a different story. Some love it and some hate it. The 2014 Fiat 500L is a very distinctive looking car. Ours is a Blu Chiaro 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge with Grigio interior, the 1.4-liter I4 MultiAir Turbo and a six-speed twin-clutch transmission. I think it looks a bit like a cross between a Fiat 500 and a loaf of bread.
Appearance aside, I’m here right now to describe the drive. The most striking feature of what it’s like behind the wheel of the Fiat 500L is the driving position. I know that’s usually the first thing I describe when I review a car, but that’s because it is the foundation upon which a car’s entire driving experience is built. In the 2014 Fiat 500L the driving experience can only be described as bus-like, but in the best possible way.
Oddly enough, when I say bus-like in this case, I don’t mean slow and lumbering. When you sit in the driver’s seat of the 2014 Fiat 500L, you sit very high and you can see everything. That’s where to sensation of bus-i-ness comes in. Much like those in the regular Fiat 500, the 500L’s seats are mounted rather high. So, you get this peculiar sense of loft once settled into the cabin.
Then, there are the windows. To begin with, the front windshield is absolutely huge. On top of that are additional curved triangular widows on the A-pillars that extend the view another half-a-foot on either side. I don’t remember the last car I’ve driven with that much visibility. Topping everything off, the high greenhouse allows for great visibility through the sides and back as well. You can see everything. It’s great. As an effect of the large windows, the cabin is very, very airy and open-feeling.
The cabin itself if rather nice. I was driving the 500L Lounge, which is Fiat’s top trim level. The leather trimmed seats were soft and comfortable and the Beats by Dre sound system was great. In my estimation, the interior of the car has only two foibles. First, the turn-signal actuators on the steering wheel seem flimsy. When you turn the wheel, engaging the actuators, they have a particular “sproing” like the sound made when you flick the tines of a plastic comb.
Secondly, the back seats aren’t great. The rear bench seat is flat… like really flat. There is virtually no lateral support whatsoever. There is also a rather large chasm between the end of the rear seat and the rear door, into which you always feel like you’re falling. Front seats, good. Rear seats, not so much.
Now, as for the actual driving experience of the 2014 Fiat 500L, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s a 3,254 pound crossover powered by a 160 horse, 184 pound-feet, 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder with power going to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch (the same engine as the Fiat 500 Abart, by the way). So, going in, I wasn’t exactly expecting a driver’s car. But, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.
Aside from the crazy amount of tubo-lag, the 2014 Fiat 500L is a fairly responsive little vehicle. Steering is surprisingly quick and precise, although, the power-assist steering is a bit light for my taste. It was quite pleasant and easy to drive around town in a ridiculous amount of construction traffic.
Speaking of construction, the front strut and rear twist-beam suspension setup, combined with 225/45 R17 all season tires did an admirable job of absorbing the pesky bumps and humps of Miami Beach’s Alton Road construction nightmare. The ride was smooth enough to keep my kidneys attached to my body and responsive enough to not feel like I’m on a boat.
Pressing the throttle was an interesting experience. Like I said, the 2014 Fiat 500L has some pretty serious turbo-lag, but the 160 horse MultiAir I4 provided sufficient-enough pep to encourage confidence when pulling into faster traffic. Power-build is linear and smooth. By the way, the 500L’s 0-60 time is about 9.0 seconds. Not great, but a bit better than the 10 seconds of the Mini Countryman. Shifts from the six-speed dual-clutch transmission are smooth, but the automatic trans shifts a bit later than I would like.
All-in-all, the 2014 Fiat 500L is a fun little car, especially at a starting price of $19,195 (our 500L Lounge priced out at $21,195) It is definitely a very stylish option for those who want a fuel efficient (24 City and 33 Highway) and peppy CUV capable of seating five and hauling a whole load of groceries (or a slew of IKEA furniture). The Fiat 500L certainly makes life more complicated for the Mini Countryman and Scion xB. So, if you’re in the market for a CUV, definitely give the 2014 Fiat 500L a look.
2014 Fiat 500L Technical Specifications
- Acceleration 0-60 mph: 9.0 Seconds.
- Power: 160 HP and 184 LB-FT
- Engine: Turbo 1.4-Liter I4
- Transmission: 6-Speed Dual Clutch
- Drivetrain: Front-Wheel Drive
- Curb Weight: 3,254 LBS
- Cargo: 21.3 CU-FT
- Fuel Economy: 24 City / 33 HWY