The Italians started out to make a larger 500. The 500L is the result.
|It looks like a cross between a Citreon DS3 and a MV-1 Van!|
They’ve added two more doors, more wheelbase, shaved 50 lbs., and found more cargo space. They’ve even given it the peppy 1.4L Multiair Turbo engine from the Fiat 500 Abarth. But it is a car with an identity crisis.
It can’t decide if it’s a small fuel efficient economy car or if it’s an Italian sports car.
Small fuel efficient economy cars do not retail at $24,000, which is where my Lounge trim level tester is priced. If they do, then they’re achieving 35, 40, 50, even 60 mpgs. The 500L tops out at 33mpg…
But the 500L isn’t a small Italian sports car that sacrifices fuel economy for the rip-roaring fun of high horsepower and loads of twist (torque). It only makes 160 horsepower, which is an adequate amount of power. The Ford Focus ST is priced one to two thousand dollars higher, but comes with 252 horsepower or 92 more horses than the 500L.
The engine for the 500L is the 1.4L Multiair four cylinder turbo-charged engine. It’s a pretty good little engine. Most of the torque arrives at 2500rpm with the power showing up at 5500rpm. I love this engine in the Fiat 500 Abarth. The 500L isn’t the 500 Abarth, even though the 500L weighs less than the Abarth.
The interior space in the 500L is impressive. The regular 500’s backseat is a joke. It will hold two child safety seats, but it is incredibly uncomfortable, even for the driver. The 500L holds both child seats and has enough room for the driver to fit comfortably. The driver’s position feels like they’ve used Time Lord technology (“It’s bigger on the inside!”). The rear seat can also be moved forward to create more cargo capacity.
With its upright posture, the 500L has a sky’s worth of headroom. The extra space up top does not ruin the handling dynamics. It does not feel top heavy and handles well around town.
The 500L is a fun little car. It definitely falls into the “driving slow cars fast” category, which is always more fun than “driving fast cars slow!” The 1.4L engine was the most fun when the revs were high and I was a gear too low.
I would not shop a Lounge trim level of this car. It’s just too much money for what you get. The Pop trim level starts at $19,100. The customer gets the same 1.4L engine and a manual transmission. I’m much more comfortable with that price range for the 500L.
Overall, I like the 500L. It’s a good little car around town that has enough room for a family. It isn’t your solution to that cross-country family road trip, but serves very well as a commuter vehicle. Definitely shop the Pop trim level and enjoy the Italian styling!
Base Price: $24,195
As Driven: $27,445
Engine: 1.4L Turbocharged 4-cylinder, 160 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed Shiftable Automatic
Wheelbase: 102.8 inches
Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs.
MPG Rating: 24 city/ 33 highway (premium recommended)
Watch the video review!