Giallo, Trekking Collection 5 ($6,000 -- includes 17-inch painted aluminum wheels; Sirius/XM satellite radio with one year of included Sirius/XM service; air-conditioning with automatic dual temperature control; Beats premium audio system; GPS navigation; heated front seats; leather-trimmed bucket seats; Rrear seat armrest with cupholder; ParkSense rear park assist system; ParkView rear back-up camera; four-way power driver lumbar adjust; power sunroof; premium wrapped instrument panel bezel; rearview mirror with auto dimming; sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors; Uconnect 8.4A AM/FM/SiriusXM/Bluetooth), Six-Speed Aisin F21-250 HD Automatic Transmission ($1,350)
Turbocharged, port-injected inline-4, gasoline
SOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Compression ration (x:1)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)
160 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)
184 @ 2,500
Six-speed automatic with console shifter
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)
There's little technique needed to get the most from the 500L in a straight line. Best run was achieved with the traction/stability control off and mild brake/throttle overlap off the line. I used manual shiifting but it didn't prove to be advantageous. Wheelspin is modest leaving the line, but it can, at least, spin the tires. Otherwise, acceleration is uneventful and the Fiat is loud, rather slow and chews through the quarter-mile with less grace than many cars in its segment. This is a mildly underpowered car, but the benefits offered by its automatic transmission are better than the optional dual-clutch.
Braking distances increased steadily with every stop, but pedal feel remained consistent. I never got the sense that the increases would dramatically increase or that there was anything unsafe about this behavior. This isn't a performance car, and the braking performance is typical of cars in the class. Stopping distances are OK.
The Fiat's behavior through the slalom is only OK before its stability control steps in. Steering feel is minimal, body roll is unpleasant and hard driving is generally discouraged by the 500L's overall feel. More importantly, this car's stability control calibration is downright dangerous. In fast transitions it will unpredictably apply the brakes to one or both front wheels, causing the car to understeer heavily in a straight line, which is the exact opposite of what it should do. In essence, if the driver is making a rapid evasive maneuver, the stability system might very well direct the car straight ahead into whatever the driver is trying to avoid. It's downright dangerous. This happens even with the system's reins loosened by turning it "off." This doesn't happen on the skid pad, where cornering is more steady-state. Nonetheless, the Fiat's general disdain for being driven aggressively continues. Understeer and body roll continue to dominate its attitude here, though the underteer is never transformed into a refusal to turn. It's just reluctant. And its tires will let you know, though not through the steering wheel.