2018 Fiat 500L

2018 FIAT 500L Review

The 500L is Fiat's roomiest model. But a plethora of shortcomings greatly diminish its appeal.
5.8 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Cameron Rogers
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Compact crossover SUVs and wagons are all about extracting the maximum amount of passenger and cargo room from an inherently small package. Generally, style rarely plays a part in this price- and utility-conscious class. The 2018 Fiat 500L bucks convention by wrapping its roomy cabin in a body that looks like a supersize version of the Fiat 500 city car. The uniquely Italian design brings a bit of flair to this conservative class, and 2018 model's new front and rear fascias give it an updated look compared to previous model years.

Aside from the exterior design, however, there's not much reason to buy the 500L over one of the other compelling choices in its class. Significant drawbacks include a harsh ride quality, uncomfortable seats, compromised outward visibility and overall poor build quality.

Fiat offers another small crossover, the 500X, and it's the superior choice. The 500X doesn't offer as much interior space, but it's more enjoyable to drive, has a more upscale interior and gives you the option of all-wheel drive.

Though the 2018 Fiat 500L isn't a terrible car in its own right, we suggest going with a competing wagon, hatchback or crossover SUV instead.



What's new for 2018

The Fiat 500L receives a mild refresh for 2018. It includes revised front and rear styling, a conventional parking brake lever and a revised center console. A rearview camera and a new 7-inch touchscreen with the newest Uconnect infotainment system are standard. The Trekking trim's new Urbana Appearance package adds black wheels and mirror caps, along with a black-painted roof. Two appearance packages debuted later in the year — the Pop trim's Chrome Appearance package, with 17-inch bright wheels and chrome exterior trim, and the Lounge's Graphite Edition, with non-painted wheels, a dual-pane sunroof, and gray-painted roof and mirror caps.

We recommend

The entry-level Pop is a pretty good deal, considering its low base price and ample features list. But check out the range-topping Lounge. It doesn't cost too much more and adds niceties such as leather upholstery, heated seats and navigation. True, you can get most of that stuff in the midtier Trekking, but the Lounge is actually less expensive if you want the Trekking with the Popular Equipment package (which is standard on the Lounge). For these reasons, the Lounge is our pick in the 500L lineup.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 Fiat 500L is a four-door compact wagon that competes against a small group of like-minded wagons and hatchbacks, as well as some compact crossovers. Fiat offers it in three trim levels: the base Pop, the midlevel Trekking and the loaded-up Lounge.

Every Fiat 500L is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine (160 horsepower, 184 pound-feet of torque) that powers the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

The base-level Pop comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, heated mirrors, tinted windows, remote locking and unlocking, a rearview camera, air conditioning, cruise control, height-adjustable front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split folding rear seats that slide fore and aft, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, and a six-speaker audio system with two USB ports (one is charge-only) and smartphone compatibility via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Popular Equipment Group adds rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, two-way power lumbar adjustment for the driver (the Trekking also adds manual lumbar for the passenger) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Pop's Premium Group includes those features plus satellite radio, a navigation system and a seven-speaker BeatsAudio system.

Stepping up to the Trekking level adds 17-inch wheels, foglights, unique body panels and trim with a rugged theme, LED ambient interior lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a rear-seat armrest and the BeatsAudio system, navigation and satellite radio from the Premium Group package. It is also available with the Popular Equipment Group.

The top-trim Lounge equips the 500L with 17-inch alloy wheels with a painted finish, chrome exterior mirrors and body accents, and the contents of the Popular Equipment Group.

A panoramic sunroof, matte black finish wheels, a spare tire, and color combinations that match the roof and exterior mirrors are other available options, depending on trim level.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Fiat 500L Trekking (turbo 1.4L inline-4 | 6-speed automatic | FWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current 500L has received some revisions, including a new infotainment system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility) for 2018. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 500L, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall5.8 / 10

Driving

5.5 / 10

Acceleration5.0 / 10
Braking5.5 / 10
Steering7.0 / 10
Handling6.5 / 10
Drivability4.0 / 10

Comfort

6.0 / 10

Seat comfort5.5 / 10
Ride comfort6.0 / 10
Noise & vibration6.0 / 10

Interior

6.0 / 10

Ease of use7.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out7.0 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility6.0 / 10
Quality5.0 / 10

Driving5.5

The engine produces only adequate power, the brakes are grabby, and handling is unremarkable. As a result, overall drivability is poor.

Acceleration5.0

The automatic transmission offers manual control and responds intuitively in parking lots and on the highway alike. In Edmunds performance testing, the 500L posted a 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds, which is an average for this class.

Braking5.5

The 500L lacks stability in panic stops and wiggles considerably from side to side. It's not unsafe, but it also isn't confidence-inspiring. It required 122 feet to stop from 60 mph in our testing, which is average. Pedal response is inconsistent in typical use.

Steering7.0

Though the steering is reasonably precise, the Fiat's steering wheel commands a tall vehicle with low grip limits. Quick steering inputs are met with lots of lean and a sense that turning rapidly isn't a 500L strength.

Handling6.5

You can hustle the 500L without it being unsafe, but it isn't rewarding or quick-reacting. The limits are modest and end in predictable understeer that the driver can't correct easily. Stability control intervention is aggressive and poorly executed.

Drivability4.0

The 500L doesn't exhibit the major drivability gaffes with the traditional six-speed automatic the way it did with the dual-clutch automatic (produced before 2015). But it's still never a real pleasure to drive due to the engine's modest, nonlinear power delivery.

Comfort6.0

Though it can manage short trips well, the 500L isn't a confident or comfortable road tripper. Its stiff ride and hard seat bottoms make it a poor choice for journeys lasting more than an hour.

Seat comfort5.5

The front seats are highly adjustable, but a good outward view demands a wholly upright seating position, which hurts comfort. The seat bottoms, both front and rear, are extremely hard. The rear seatbacks are rather upright.

Ride comfort6.0

The 500L's ride comfort feels unrefined in the real world. There's ample vertical motion over even small imperfections. Rough roads create vibrations throughout the structure, including the steering wheel. Most competitors are better.

Noise & vibration6.0

Both wind noise and tire noise manage to find their way inside the cabin more frequently than they should. Coarse surfaces and crosswinds pose real problems. Engine noise isn't too loud in normal conditions but can be burdensome at high rpm.

Interior6.0

The 500L's double roof-pillar design inhibits quarter-angle visibility in all directions. The rear seats don't fold completely flat, but the movable rear shelf makes up the difference. Even though this is an economically priced car, the materials feel below par.

Ease of use7.0

The trip computer button's location at the end of the wiper stalk is odd, but large air-conditioning knobs, legible displays, and logical placement of most controls make the 500L easy to operate.

Getting in/getting out7.0

The doors lack obvious detents but offer good access to the seats, which are at a convenient height. The doorsills are wide, and grab handles are provided above each door. The rear seats slide fore and aft and tumble forward, but they curiously don't fold flat.

Roominess7.0

Because the roof is quite high, there's a feeling of openness. Even so, long-torsoed rear passengers will run out of headroom if the optional sunroof is installed.

Visibility6.0

We appreciate the design idea of double roof pillars, but in practice there are four pillars both front and back, where there could be just two. The standard rearview camera and optional rear parking sensors ease anxiety while in reverse.

Quality5.0

Inconsistent panel gaps, less than stellar paint, and below-average fit and finish inside hurt the 500L's score. Most competitors feel better from behind the wheel. Many controls feel hollow and don't give an impression of quality.

Utility7.5

The 500L is pretty roomy, with cargo space of 68 cubic feet and behind-the-rear-seat space of 21.3 cubic feet. Small-item storage is OK, with decent-size cupholders, but the door pockets and front bin are all underwhelming.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.