2014 Fiat 500L

2014 Fiat 500L

2012 Los Angeles Auto Show

2012 Los Angeles Auto Show

Just the Facts:
  • The 2014 Fiat 500L gets two more doors and an additional 2 feet in length compared to the 500 coupe.
  • The turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir four-cylinder develops 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque and gets a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmission.
  • It offers as much official interior volume as an EPA-rated large car.

LOS ANGELES — Look out, Mini Countryman. Fiat is introducing at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show a version of its known-for-tininess 500 that's got the "big small car" niche firmly in its crosshairs.

The first car on Fiat's all-new "small-wide" vehicle architecture, the built-in-Serbia 2014 500L is coming this summer to test if the U.S.'s modest appetite for not-totally-small compact cars has more room for expansion.

The four-door hatchback 500L is an expansive 26 inches longer than the diminutive 500 two-door coupe, not to mention a half-foot taller and wider. The Fiat 500L's wheelbase of 102.8 inches is a full foot more spacious than the 500's 90.6 inches between axles and roomier still than the Countryman's 102.2-inch wheelbase.

Pushing out the standard 500's envelope that much balloons interior volume to 99.7 cubic feet — spacious enough to earn it a "large car" designation from the Environmental Protection Agency. At 3,254 pounds, the 500L's heft is nearly identical to the Mini Countryman.

The 2014 Fiat 500L's single engine choice is a slightly breathed-on version of the Abarth power plant, with the 1.4-liter turbocharged MultiAir four-cylinder generating the same 160 horses as the Abarth but almost 10 percent more torque at 184 pound-feet. Better still, we finally get a six-speed transmission hooked to the turbo MultiAir: the 500L offers the choice of a conventional six-speed manual or what effectively is the same transmission with a dual-clutch module attached to turn it into an automatic.

One thing Mini won't have to fret about: The Fiat 500L is coming — at least for now — only as a front-driver.

The greenhouse is magnificent, with glass extending almost solidly from the A-pillar to the D-pillar, never mind the giant hunk of glass comprising the optional dual-panel sunroof. Inside, the 2014 500L seats five to the Countryman's four, with the front seats' hip point a readily noticed 3 inches higher than on the standard Fiat 500. The rear seats slide, fold and tumble flat (well, practically flat).

The Los Angeles auto show is the world debut for a Trekking version of the 2014 Fiat 500L, what many will regard as the de rigueur-for-the-U.S., crossovered-up model. The 500L Trekking offers specific front and rear styling, blacked-out trim, exaggerated side sills and arched wheelhouses to hold the 7-inch-wide 17-inch alloys (16-inchers come on the standard 500L).

Inside, the Trekking has a two-tone interior and is optioned with a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface for the infotainment system.

In all, there will be four 500L models when the car hits showrooms this summer: Pop, Easy, Lounge and Trekking. No word yet on pricing, but we reckon the 500L will handily undercut the Mini Countryman.

Edmunds says: If biggie small is your thing, the 500L is an intriguing choice.

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