Used 2014 FIAT 500L Wagon Review & Ratings | Edmunds
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Used 2014 FIAT 500L Wagon Review

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2014 FIAT 500L Wagon

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Summary

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2014 FIAT 500L Wagon

  • C Edmunds Rating
  • For people who like the regular Fiat 500 but find its tiny size to be a deal breaker, the four-door 2014 Fiat 500L would seem to be a compelling alternative. But we've found it has too many drawbacks. Other small wagons will be better choices.

  • Pros

    Big-car passenger and cargo space; good outward visibility; lots of European personality inside and out.

  • Cons

    Quirky behavior from automated manual transmission; unpredictable brakes; rear seats don't fold flat; uncomfortable ride quality.

  • What's New for 2014

    The 2014 Fiat 500L is an all-new model.

Review

When Fiat returned to the United States in 2011, it was pretty much guaranteed that the ultracompact 500 hatchback would have narrow appeal. The 500's origins and soul are from Europe, where tight city streets and shorter distances between destinations make small cars a way of life. Fiat always planned to expand the 500 family to include a larger, more useful variation aimed at North American drivers. The result is the 2014 Fiat 500L.

With two more doors, more than 2 feet of added length and as much interior volume as many full-size cars, the 2014 500L is a wholly different car from the standard Fiat 500: It's a compact wagon close in size to many compact crossovers. High-mounted front seats give the driver and front passenger a commanding view of the road, and rear headroom and legroom are more plentiful than you might think.

This is also a much wider car than the 500 hatchback, and thanks to significant gains in shoulder room and hiproom, getting three children across in the backseat is a legitimate proposition. So is a stop at the grocery store on your way home: The Fiat 500L offers a comparatively titanic 23.1 cubic feet of capacity behind its rear seats compared with just 9.5 in the standard Fiat 500.

To accommodate all that extra size, the new 500L has a standard 160-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It provides modest power for trips around town, but not surprisingly, acceleration is more leisurely when you load up the whole family for a weekend road trip. This is especially true when optioned with the automated manual transmission, which sucks much of the life out of the 500L due to its unresponsive nature and an over-eagerness to shift into its top gear at the earliest opportunity.

The 2014 Fiat 500L's faults don't end there, and Edmunds' "C" rating reveals why it comes up short on being the measure of a competent family wagon. True, the 500L does combine the personality of the diminutive 500 hatchback with the room of a crossover, but for a vehicle that should cater to a family's needs, the 500L substandard transmission, brakes, suspension tuning, interior quality and cargo packaging shouldn't be ignored.

The closest competitor in terms of interior dimensions and quirkiness is the 2014 Kia Soul, which is a superior vehicle in virtually every way. When you consider that a top-shelf Soul with its far more powerful engine and traditional automatic transmission comes in at a comparable price to the base 500L with a manual, the Fiat cannot compete. The similarly positioned but costlier 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman (the largest Mini) offers a far more sophisticated driving experience, with sportier handling and the option of all-wheel drive. Other recommended options include the Nissan Juke or smaller, similarly priced compact crossovers like the Kia Sportage.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Fiat 500L is a four-door compact wagon sold in four trim levels: Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge.

The base-level Pop comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels; keyless entry; power windows and locks; air-conditioning; cruise control; six-way manually adjustable cloth front seats; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; a six-speaker CD stereo with a 5-inch touchscreen display, USB/iPod integration, an auxiliary input and voice control for audio functions; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and 60/40 split-folding rear seats that recline and adjust fore and aft.

The Easy trim level adds 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colored exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a front seat center console and armrest, upgraded seat fabric and a premium 520-watt audio system with six speakers. For 2014, Fiat is offering the optional Premier package, which includes a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a larger 6.5-inch touchscreen interface with a navigation system, free of charge on all 500L Easy, Trekking or Lounge models.

Other option packages available starting with the Easy trim include a Popular Equipment group, which bundles dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way power driver seat, rear armrest, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 115-volt power outlet; and the Beats audio group, which provides an upgraded amplifier and subwoofer for the audio system, plus satellite radio. A sunroof, heated seats, a compact spare tire and a black- or white-painted roof are stand-alone options.

Move to the Trekking trim and the 2014 Fiat 500L gets 17-inch wheels, foglights, unique front and rear body panels and trim, two-tone interior trim and premium cloth upholstery. The 500L Trekking trim offers the same options as the Easy.

At the top of the 2014 Fiat 500L line you'll find the Lounge model, which reverts to 16-inch wheels but adds chrome exterior trim and mirrors; heated leather front seats with six-way power adjustments for the driver; dual-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Beats audio upgrade, sunroof, spare tire and white or black roof remain optional on the Lounge, and you can also order 17-inch wheels.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2014 Fiat 500L is front-wheel drive and powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 hp and 180 pound-feet of torque. For all but the top-trim Lounge model, a six-speed manual transmission is standard. A six-speed automated manual transmission takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission. It's optional for the 500L Easy and Trekking and standard on the 500L Lounge.

In Edmunds testing, a 500L Lounge accelerated to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, a competitive, though hardly invigorating, performance for the class.

With the manual transmission, the 1.4-liter Multiair engine delivers EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway). The automated manual serves up 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city/33 mpg highway), which is average for a small wagon/crossover. With this transmission, we managed 31.2 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop.

Safety

All 2014 Fiat 500L models come standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and active head restraints for front-seat occupants. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are also available as part of the no-cost Premier package offered on the 2014 500L Easy, Trekking and Lounge models.

In simulated panic stops from 60 mph, a 500L Lounge required 120 feet to stop, which is a little better than average for its vehicle class.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 500L its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features

Large doors, an essentially level roof line and high-mounted front seats make it easy to slide right into the 2014 Fiat 500L. The front seats are wide and comfortable, but not especially supportive if you like to drive quickly around corners. Once you're seated, you'll be struck by the expansive field of vision that comes from the wagon's large glass area. This imparts a unique sense of minivan-like openness, as the 500L driver enjoys practically unimpeded views in any direction. Yet while we appreciate the design ingenuity of double front roof pillars framing the windshield, in practice two pillars would have worked just as well.

The dashboard design of the 500L is contemporary, fresh and airy, complementing the overall impression of a light-filled interior. The dual-gauge instrument cluster looks modern, and the dials deliver needed information clearly, although some of the ancillary information in the center cluster display comes with small fonts and a slightly muddled presentation. The padded upper dash is particularly nice in this class, as is the generously sized infotainment interface, but the stalks, buttons and levers have a hollow feel that does not impart a sense of quality.

The 500L's ample interior room is obvious in the backseat, where the car's width provides a comfortable perch for two adults or three children. There's a wealth of legroom, too, particularly if the sliding 60/40 seats are in their rearmost position. In this configuration, its luggage compartment volume of 21.3 cubic feet surpasses that of the Soul, Countryman and Juke.

The 500L's maximum cargo capacity of 68 cubic feet rivals that of larger compact crossovers, let alone the Kia Soul (61 cubic feet), Mini Countryman (41) and Nissan Juke (36). Its 21.3 cubic feet with the seats raised is similarly segment leading. However, the 500L's real-world utility is hampered by a high cargo lift-over height and rear-seat backrests that don't fold totally flat.

Driving Impressions

There's little about driving the 2014 Fiat 500L that transfers from the miniscule two-door Fiat 500. Although it's still diminutive among wagons, the 500L feels several times larger than the phone-booth-size 500 hatchback. As such, the 500L's ride and handling traits are softer and less nimble than those of the regular 500. Unfortunately, the L's ride quality gets busy and bouncy on uneven roads, and there's quite a din of wind noise because of the upright windshield and large side mirrors. On the bright side, steering is precise and the 500L feels confident and composed when going around turns.

Although its power delivery is reasonably good once underway, the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine meets its match in the not-exactly-svelte 500L, particularly when paired with the automated-manual transmission. Even with just a couple of people aboard, accelerating up to highway speeds requires some patience. Also, the automated manual can be slow to respond when you're pulling away from traffic lights or trying to creep at parking lot speeds. On many occasions, we found ourselves practically motionless with the accelerator pinned to the floor. We've also observed that it's anxious to shift into its most efficient gear as quickly as possible to maximize fuel economy, which can leave you short on thrust while trying to accelerate in traffic. To make matters worse, the numb and grabby brake pedal is hard to modulate smoothly.

Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2014 FIAT 500L Wagon

What's New for 2014

The 2014 Fiat 500L is an all-new model.

Introduction

When Fiat returned to the United States in 2011, it was pretty much guaranteed that the ultracompact 500 hatchback would have narrow appeal. The 500's origins and soul are from Europe, where tight city streets and shorter distances between destinations make small cars a way of life. Fiat always planned to expand the 500 family to include a larger, more useful variation aimed at North American drivers. The result is the 2014 Fiat 500L.

With two more doors, more than 2 feet of added length and as much interior volume as many full-size cars, the 2014 500L is a wholly different car from the standard Fiat 500: It's a compact wagon close in size to many compact crossovers. High-mounted front seats give the driver and front passenger a commanding view of the road, and rear headroom and legroom are more plentiful than you might think.

This is also a much wider car than the 500 hatchback, and thanks to significant gains in shoulder room and hiproom, getting three children across in the backseat is a legitimate proposition. So is a stop at the grocery store on your way home: The Fiat 500L offers a comparatively titanic 23.1 cubic feet of capacity behind its rear seats compared with just 9.5 in the standard Fiat 500.

To accommodate all that extra size, the new 500L has a standard 160-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It provides modest power for trips around town, but not surprisingly, acceleration is more leisurely when you load up the whole family for a weekend road trip. This is especially true when optioned with the automated manual transmission, which sucks much of the life out of the 500L due to its unresponsive nature and an over-eagerness to shift into its top gear at the earliest opportunity.

The 2014 Fiat 500L's faults don't end there, and Edmunds' "C" rating reveals why it comes up short on being the measure of a competent family wagon. True, the 500L does combine the personality of the diminutive 500 hatchback with the room of a crossover, but for a vehicle that should cater to a family's needs, the 500L substandard transmission, brakes, suspension tuning, interior quality and cargo packaging shouldn't be ignored.

The closest competitor in terms of interior dimensions and quirkiness is the 2014 Kia Soul, which is a superior vehicle in virtually every way. When you consider that a top-shelf Soul with its far more powerful engine and traditional automatic transmission comes in at a comparable price to the base 500L with a manual, the Fiat cannot compete. The similarly positioned but costlier 2014 Mini Cooper Countryman (the largest Mini) offers a far more sophisticated driving experience, with sportier handling and the option of all-wheel drive. Other recommended options include the Nissan Juke or smaller, similarly priced compact crossovers like the Kia Sportage.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Fiat 500L is a four-door compact wagon sold in four trim levels: Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge.

The base-level Pop comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels; keyless entry; power windows and locks; air-conditioning; cruise control; six-way manually adjustable cloth front seats; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls; a six-speaker CD stereo with a 5-inch touchscreen display, USB/iPod integration, an auxiliary input and voice control for audio functions; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and 60/40 split-folding rear seats that recline and adjust fore and aft.

The Easy trim level adds 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colored exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a front seat center console and armrest, upgraded seat fabric and a premium 520-watt audio system with six speakers. For 2014, Fiat is offering the optional Premier package, which includes a rearview camera, rear parking sensors and a larger 6.5-inch touchscreen interface with a navigation system, free of charge on all 500L Easy, Trekking or Lounge models.

Other option packages available starting with the Easy trim include a Popular Equipment group, which bundles dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way power driver seat, rear armrest, auto-dimming rearview mirror and 115-volt power outlet; and the Beats audio group, which provides an upgraded amplifier and subwoofer for the audio system, plus satellite radio. A sunroof, heated seats, a compact spare tire and a black- or white-painted roof are stand-alone options.

Move to the Trekking trim and the 2014 Fiat 500L gets 17-inch wheels, foglights, unique front and rear body panels and trim, two-tone interior trim and premium cloth upholstery. The 500L Trekking trim offers the same options as the Easy.

At the top of the 2014 Fiat 500L line you'll find the Lounge model, which reverts to 16-inch wheels but adds chrome exterior trim and mirrors; heated leather front seats with six-way power adjustments for the driver; dual-zone automatic climate control and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Beats audio upgrade, sunroof, spare tire and white or black roof remain optional on the Lounge, and you can also order 17-inch wheels.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2014 Fiat 500L is front-wheel drive and powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 hp and 180 pound-feet of torque. For all but the top-trim Lounge model, a six-speed manual transmission is standard. A six-speed automated manual transmission takes the place of a conventional automatic transmission. It's optional for the 500L Easy and Trekking and standard on the 500L Lounge.

In Edmunds testing, a 500L Lounge accelerated to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds, a competitive, though hardly invigorating, performance for the class.

With the manual transmission, the 1.4-liter Multiair engine delivers EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway). The automated manual serves up 27 mpg combined (24 mpg city/33 mpg highway), which is average for a small wagon/crossover. With this transmission, we managed 31.2 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop.

Safety

All 2014 Fiat 500L models come standard with antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, front seat-mounted side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a driver-side knee airbag and active head restraints for front-seat occupants. A rearview camera and rear parking sensors are also available as part of the no-cost Premier package offered on the 2014 500L Easy, Trekking and Lounge models.

In simulated panic stops from 60 mph, a 500L Lounge required 120 feet to stop, which is a little better than average for its vehicle class.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 500L its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.

Interior Design and Special Features

Large doors, an essentially level roof line and high-mounted front seats make it easy to slide right into the 2014 Fiat 500L. The front seats are wide and comfortable, but not especially supportive if you like to drive quickly around corners. Once you're seated, you'll be struck by the expansive field of vision that comes from the wagon's large glass area. This imparts a unique sense of minivan-like openness, as the 500L driver enjoys practically unimpeded views in any direction. Yet while we appreciate the design ingenuity of double front roof pillars framing the windshield, in practice two pillars would have worked just as well.

The dashboard design of the 500L is contemporary, fresh and airy, complementing the overall impression of a light-filled interior. The dual-gauge instrument cluster looks modern, and the dials deliver needed information clearly, although some of the ancillary information in the center cluster display comes with small fonts and a slightly muddled presentation. The padded upper dash is particularly nice in this class, as is the generously sized infotainment interface, but the stalks, buttons and levers have a hollow feel that does not impart a sense of quality.

The 500L's ample interior room is obvious in the backseat, where the car's width provides a comfortable perch for two adults or three children. There's a wealth of legroom, too, particularly if the sliding 60/40 seats are in their rearmost position. In this configuration, its luggage compartment volume of 21.3 cubic feet surpasses that of the Soul, Countryman and Juke.

The 500L's maximum cargo capacity of 68 cubic feet rivals that of larger compact crossovers, let alone the Kia Soul (61 cubic feet), Mini Countryman (41) and Nissan Juke (36). Its 21.3 cubic feet with the seats raised is similarly segment leading. However, the 500L's real-world utility is hampered by a high cargo lift-over height and rear-seat backrests that don't fold totally flat.

Driving Impressions

There's little about driving the 2014 Fiat 500L that transfers from the miniscule two-door Fiat 500. Although it's still diminutive among wagons, the 500L feels several times larger than the phone-booth-size 500 hatchback. As such, the 500L's ride and handling traits are softer and less nimble than those of the regular 500. Unfortunately, the L's ride quality gets busy and bouncy on uneven roads, and there's quite a din of wind noise because of the upright windshield and large side mirrors. On the bright side, steering is precise and the 500L feels confident and composed when going around turns.

Although its power delivery is reasonably good once underway, the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine meets its match in the not-exactly-svelte 500L, particularly when paired with the automated-manual transmission. Even with just a couple of people aboard, accelerating up to highway speeds requires some patience. Also, the automated manual can be slow to respond when you're pulling away from traffic lights or trying to creep at parking lot speeds. On many occasions, we found ourselves practically motionless with the accelerator pinned to the floor. We've also observed that it's anxious to shift into its most efficient gear as quickly as possible to maximize fuel economy, which can leave you short on thrust while trying to accelerate in traffic. To make matters worse, the numb and grabby brake pedal is hard to modulate smoothly.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Average Consumer Rating (See all 44 reviews) Write a Review


Loaded 500l white

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L

Very reliable- I have driven it R/T to New Orleans from Memphis numerous times with not one problem.




Biggest mistake ever. nothing but headaches

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L

DON"T buy Fiat if you want a quality automobile, if you are looking for cute and disposable then your in the right place, but if you like a return on your investment or a car that is safe and reliable or a company that cares about quality and helps their customers .. over 8 months of dealing with their Customer Service call center, multiple weeks of car being in for service. The car loses power when accelerating leaving the driver with no ability to move the car out of busy intersections, or the ability to go at all from stops. Random occurrences so problem is hard to replicate, have had the service engine light come on - even have pictures of it on - still to be told that the computer never shows or records a problem so there fore they can do nothing. I have called and open a "case" with FCA and all I am told again and again is sorry until I can show and have a service tech with me when it happens they can't do anything. I guess my word isn't enough, all the other online complaints I have found of others having the same issue mean anything. I am told it must just be an isolated incident. I figure until they are forced, sued or have someones death on their hands from an accident the issue will never be addressed. Don't buy FIAT ! To be safe avoid any and all FIAT/Chrysler products!!



1 of 2 people found this review helpful

'don't buy one, mayor regret!'

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L

use it was cute, looked fun. I regret the day I did that, I've never had a vehicle with so much issues. lights go off frequently. Breaks inconsistent, lastly panel board goes crazy, with engine light, and others go off I call the dealership to take it in, I setup an appointment to have it diagnosed, they keep it for a week to advise me that the transmission is gone at 70,000 miles. I challenged that since I drove it there. I had researched recalls on this model, and was told that all the recalls where completed, I asked where and when and was told that the place it was originally done is no longer in business, sketchy with Fiat INC. they avoided me with follow up which made it even more frustrating. I highly recommend YOU to stay away from looking at this disaster of a car, the so called Corporate side of them is in complete denial, I'm now stuck with a car, that I serviced & maintained when due, to have this extra expense of a new trans that they priced at $5,400 to repair, is disheartening!!!



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Over 20k on a 2014 fiat 500l trekking

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L

It's a shame this car has gotten such bad press. I know some have had bad experiences, but I've read about others who have had wonderful experiences with this car. You can almost park this car almost anywhere -- I believe it's length is a few inches shorter than a Toyota Corolla -- yet it has such room inside for passengers and cargo. It's not a sports car, but it handles well enough and rides comfortably on all but the roughest or bumpiest roads. As of this writing, I have had no issues at all; just normal maintenance. The bad press has probably affected sales, so look carefully for a good deal if you're shopping for one.



7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Great little/big car

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L

Easy to park due to small size yet very roomy inside, peppy engine when paired with the manual transmission, good cargo space, fold down rear seats are not flat unless you use the cover from the storage area in the raised slot to better align the floor of the storage area with the folded seats, stadium style rear seats so that you can easily converse with rear passengers and they can see the road and front seat rider, handles well in corners, can be choppy on poor road surfaces, generally get 28-30 MPG on mixed city/highway driving, both I and my wife own 500L trekkings which together have a combined mileage of 59,000 miles, so far no breakdowns at all and only one recall for airbags, we also opted for the lifetime warranties on both cars, it does have some features that may have led early buyers to think it has gremlins, when making turns the fog light on that side turns on which is great in the dark on sharp turns as it lights up the shoulder of the road for you, when we first bought the car we thought that was a electrical problem but it turns put the dealer had only just learned that it was a feature (which can be disabled from the touch screen controls), the dealer had actually been replacing units in an effort to fix what was not a problem, the GPS needs updated maps which we were told was due to the maps themselves that were being supplied for the system this is not really a major problem for the vast majority of the time the maps have been dead on, the biggest problem has been the owners manual itself, the index was compiled for a different manual entirely as the referenced page numbers don't actually take you to the information that you are trying to look up, also the information in the manual is very weak in useful content, the brakes can be grabby and take experience with the vehicle to learn how to modulate them (they still catch me off guard once in a while) but when needed they seem to stop the car quickly and in a relatively short distance, the air conditioning works well but does affect the gas mileage, the car did get good IIHS crash ratings which was a factor in our decision to purchase them, all in all a competent and reliable vehicle thus far, my other car is a 2007 mazdaspeed 3 so I know about and use quick cars that can handle and brake well




Bad experience

by on
Vehicle: 2014 FIAT 500L



Talk About The 2014 500L

2014 FIAT 500L Discussions See all Started By

twodice1
twodice1
04-14-2015
Could you provide the money factor and residual for the Fiat 500L 2014 Lounge model with Lounge collection 6 on 24 months with 12k and 15k miles?...


Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com
03-13-2014
2014 Fiat 500L Does Chauffeur Duty at Loews Hotels...


Edmunds.com
Edmunds.com
03-10-2014
2014 Fiat 500L Recalled To Fix Transmission Problem...



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