More than an extended Fiat 500, the 500L is a significantly larger vehicle, comparable to the Mini Countryman. It also competes with the likes of Mitsubishi's Outlander Sport and Volkswagen's Tiguan as well as compact hatchbacks like the Ford Focus.
Similar to that other European icon — the Countryman — the 500L offers front-wheel drive and a choice of manual or automatic transmissions, but it doesn't currently offer all-wheel drive as the Countryman does.
The trim levels are Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge.
The 500L is more than 5 inches longer and about 4 inches taller than the Countryman, and though it's unmistakably a Fiat, its tall stance and protruding headlights are comparable. The 500L has blacked-out roof pillars all around, which gives a floating-roof look. The split A-pillars define this model — basically two pillars with a sizable window between them.
The Trekking trim level has a tougher look with gray rocker panels, wheel arches and lower bumper. It doesn't have higher ground clearance than the other trims, however.
Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, and 17s are optional or standard on higher trim levels.
With 42 percent more cabin space than the sub-subcompact 500, the 500L has the interior volume of a full-size car. Fiat offers seven fabric and two leather seating upholsteries; an optional dual-pane moonroof spans both rows of seats. A trim piece across the upper dashboard can come painted or wrapped in vinyl, and the steering wheel can have a two-tone rim.
The 500L's cargo floor is just 26.2 inches off the ground, providing one of the better lift-over heights in the segment. A movable panel can serve as a shelf or cargo cover. The 60/40-split rear seats fold and then tumble forward another 90 degrees.
The 500L adopts the Uconnect system from sibling company Chrysler's cars with 5- or 6.5-inch screens; the system includes Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, with an available navigation system.
Other options include Beats audio, audible parking sensors and a backup camera.
Under the Hood
The 500L is powered by Fiat's 160-horsepower, turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, with torque uprated to 184 pounds-feet, up 14 pounds-feet versus the 500 Abarth pocket rocket. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic optional on the Easy and Trekking. The 500L Lounge gets the automatic standard. Fiat recommends premium fuel for maximum performance but says the cheap stuff will do, too.
Standard safety features include all-disc antilock brakes, seven airbags including a driver's knee airbag, active front head restraints and the required electronic stability system.
Audible parking sensors and a backup camera are optional.
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