Used 2014 FIAT 500L
Used 2014 FIAT 500L for Sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
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.
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.
2014 FIAT 500L configurations
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.
Performance & mpg
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
The reborn Fiat 500 has been a massive hit in Europe, and after a shaky start, is starting to win hearts in North America, too.
No surprise then that Fiat's next big idea is to take the essence of the 500 and serve it up in alternative dishes not unlike Mini has done with the Cooper. Next on the menu is the 2014 Fiat 500L, a longer, taller, four-door mini-MPV.
The Fiat 500L is not only easier to get into thanks to its loftier ride height and extra set of doors, but it's decidedly more spacious inside, too. It's a formula that typically works well in the U.S., minicar or not.
Extra Small MPV
Fiat calls the 500L a "city lounge" car, which of course doesn't translate to anything familiar. Europeans would call it a mini-MPV, but the 500L is far smaller than any minivan sold in the U.S. Think of something more like Honda's Fit or the 2013 Scion xD and you would be closer to approximating the 500L's general proportions. But none of those vehicles is as stylishly finished, nor do they come with engines as small as the Fiat's.
Indeed, the European-spec Fiat 500L we sampled in France comes with only two cylinders that add up to just under a liter of displacement. U.S.-bound models will get a larger 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers significantly more punch.
Thankfully, we got a go in a Multijet diesel as well that more closely approximated the power of the U.S. engine. Both of the European engines produce 105 horsepower — well short of the U.S. model's 160 hp — but the diesel engine at least offers up 199 pound-feet of torque, a slight improvement over the 184 lb-ft delivered by the U.S. engine.
Meager but Eager
This is a car that begs to be driven hard, just like baby Fiats 40 years back. Its power delivery is smooth and it responds well when you dig deep into the throttle, even if it doesn't have much to give. At higher speeds the small dual-cylinder engine runs out of steam and starts to feel as if it had driven into a vat of molasses.
Happily, such power shortfalls are not going to be a problem for U.S.-spec 500Ls, as a quick whizz in the much stouter diesel model proves. Its authoritative acceleration makes conducting the 500L a decidedly more relaxed business, if a slightly less exciting one.
Both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions will be offered in the U.S., both with six speeds. Clearly the manual will let you get the most out of what's available, but we suspect that the majority of 500Ls will have the automatic.
Flat Through the Corners
We were more than a bit surprised with the handling the 2014 Fiat 500L displayed on twisty roads. Tall vehicles with high centers of gravity typically like to roll, but this car stays impressively flat when you fling it into a tight turn, and doesn't understeer much either. The result is that having flung the Fiat at one bend, you immediately feel like flinging it at another. Especially as your high vantage point and the clever see-through roof pillars give you extra confidence.
Same goes for the more than adequate brakes and the Fiat's unfussed grip. True, its steering assistance has you wondering whether there's any mechanical connection between wheel rim and tire at all, but the mechanism is accurate enough that you'll positively enjoy mounting a light assault on your favorite back road.
That kind of performance isn't the main point of this car, but it's certainly a pleasing bonus. So is a ride that doesn't turn choppier than an Atlantic squall. You feel bumps, but not with regret, and there's enough refinement on the highway to make long journeys entirely viable.
Unique Inside and Out
Given the miniaturized glamour of the 500 hatchback, it would be reasonable to expect more of the same from its new big brother. To a certain extent you get it, too, though the bigger car loses some of the smaller machine's charm.
Thankfully, the 2014 Fiat 500L still has character and an aura of quality, too, thanks to the two-tone paint schemes, the high-quality detail in the lighting, door handles and rubbing strips and the fact that you can see a face in the front end of this Fiat. It's actually a face that differs slightly from the European look, the U.S. 500L flaunting a more aggressively sculpted lower bumper housing and a faux aluminum lower section.
The impression of tasteful quality continues inside, with much of the dash finished in either a glossy body color or, on the upmarket Lounge version, skinned in a vinyl that looks astonishingly similar to soft, high-grade leather. This and the imaginatively designed upholstery do a fine job of diverting your eye from the lower-grade plastics found in the floor and rocker zones. A stylish leather wheel, attractive instruments and easily intelligible controls all create a positive aura, as does the feeling that the 500L's body is a robustly substantial structure.
Downsides? There are a few. The front seat cushions could be longer and the steering is more detached than we like. Rear passenger room is also tight for three, so it's more like a four-passenger vehicle at best.
We don't yet know the price either, but in Europe it certainly isn't a stand-out value. Still, the 2014 Fiat 500L can lay claim to being the only "Italian-designed urban utility vehicle" on the market in the U.S., a prospect that might serve it well in this typically dull segment.
And given the success of the Mini Countryman, the four-door big brother to the standard Cooper coupe, it's not a stretch to say that the 500L gives Fiat a much better shot at generating bigger sales in the U.S. when it goes on sale this summer.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2014 FIAT 500L Overview
The Used 2014 FIAT 500L is offered in the following submodels: 500L Wagon. Available styles include Trekking 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Lounge 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Easy 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), and Pop 4dr Wagon (1.4L 4cyl Turbo 6M).
What's a good price on a Used 2014 FIAT 500L?
Price comparisons for Used 2014 FIAT 500L trim styles:
- The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Lounge is priced between $11,000 and$11,999 with odometer readings between 30140 and59582 miles.
- The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Easy is priced between $9,583 and$11,985 with odometer readings between 24214 and61622 miles.
- The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Trekking is priced between $13,998 and$13,998 with odometer readings between 35577 and35577 miles.
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Should I lease or buy a 2014 FIAT 500L?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.