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2014 FIAT 500L Review

More about the 2014 FIAT 500L
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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). Pre-owned FIAT 500L models are available with a 1.4 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 160 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2014 FIAT 500L comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2014 FIAT 500L comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a 4 yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

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 Easy is priced between $9,504 and$15,998 with odometer readings between 39197 and101518 miles.
  • The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Trekking is priced between $9,500 and$17,998 with odometer readings between 39727 and120222 miles.
  • The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Lounge is priced between $10,990 and$17,998 with odometer readings between 39807 and99667 miles.
  • The Used 2014 FIAT 500L Pop is priced between $6,999 and$12,995 with odometer readings between 100516 and127938 miles.

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Which used 2014 FIAT 500LS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2014 FIAT 500L for sale near. There are currently 26 used and CPO 2014 500LS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,999 and mileage as low as 39197 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2014 FIAT 500L.

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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.

Check out FIAT lease specials
Check out FIAT 500L lease specials