2017 FIAT 500L Review
Pros & Cons
- Plenty of passenger room and cargo space for a small hatchback
- Optional touchscreen interface is attractive and easy to use
- Good outward visibility
- Choppy ride quality over rough pavement
- Feels slower than most other cars in the class
- Touchy brakes make it hard to come to a smooth stop
- Rear seats don't fold flat for more cargo flexibility
Edmunds' Expert Review
Little about driving the 2017 Fiat 500L compares to the diminutive two-door Fiat 500. Although it's considered a small wagon, the 500L feels many times larger than the 500 hatchback and larger than its peers. Its ride and handling traits are softer and clumsier than what we're accustomed to in this class, especially on bumpy road surfaces where it pitches and rolls a little too much. There's also quite a bit of of wind noise from the upright windshield and large side mirrors.
Fiat's turbocharged four-cylinder engine works fine in the smaller 500 but meets its match trying to haul the added weight — about 800 pounds — of the 500L. With a couple of passengers aboard, accelerating to highway speeds requires a plan and patience. We're not particularly fond of the brakes, either. The braking system performs fine (see Safety section), but the pedal makes its hard to slow down smoothly and without excessive jerking and grabbing.
Large doors, a level roof line and high-mounted front seats make it easy to slide right into the Fiat 500L. The front seats are wide and comfortable, but they're also stiff and not especially supportive during spirited driving. They also lack any sort of power adjustment other than the available power lumbar.
Once seated, you'll be struck by the expansive field of vision that comes from the wagon's large glass area. Unimpeded views in all directions give the 500L a feeling of space and openness almost like a minivan, although the large pillars on either side of the windshield take some getting used to.
The dash design has a cool and contemporary feel that gives it a unique charm. The dual-gauge instrument cluster delivers clear information to the driver at a glance. Some of the smaller details and information displayed in the center cluster are harder to read, however, with smaller fonts and a somewhat muddled presentation.
Both of the 500L's touchscreens work well, but we're particularly fond of the optional 6.5-inch touchscreen because its quick processing times and large icons make it easier to use.
The 500L's ample interior room compared to the two-door 500 is obvious in the backseat, where added width provides a comfortable perch for two adults or three children. There's plenty of legroom, too, particularly with the sliding 60/40-split seats in the rearmost position, but the non-reclining seatbacks feel a bit too upright.
The 500L's maximum cargo capacity of 68 cubic feet rivals that of larger compact crossovers and it's more than the Kia Soul (61 cubic feet), Mini Countryman (41) and Nissan Juke (36), not to mention the related Fiat 500X (51). Just as impressive is the 21.3 cubic feet behind the upright rear seats. The 500L's real-world utility is hampered by a high liftover height and rear seat backrests that don't fold totally flat, however.