Overview & Reviews
For an automaker to sell a lot of cars in the United States, it typically needs to offer a vehicle with four doors. So the Italian automaker Fiat made sure its four-door 500L was ready for prime time as soon as Americans began to take a shine to its tiny 500 hatchback. The idea behind the Fiat 500L is simple. It's a tall hatchback/wagon that's far more suitable for family use than the regular 500, while retaining the smaller car's shapeliness and Italian charm. Of course, Fiat offers the 500L in a wide variety of flavors and color combinations, so it's easy to personalize to your liking.
No matter how much the 500L may make sense on paper, however, in practice it has disappointed our editors with its unresponsive transmission, busy ride, unrefined suspension tuning, subpar interior quality and a lack of versatility that can't be detected simply by looking at a spec sheet.
Current Fiat 500L
The Fiat 500L is a small wagon/tall hatchback that debuted for the 2014 model year. All Fiat 500L models are front-wheel drive and have a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four–cylinder engine rated at 160 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. You can choose either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automated manual transmission that basically functions like an automatic transmission. All-wheel drive currently isn't available for the Fiat 500L.
The 500L is offered in four trim levels: Pop, Easy, Trekking and Lounge. Standard features on the Pop include keyless entry, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker CD stereo. The Easy trim adds features like alloy wheels, upgraded seat fabric and an upgraded stereo. The Trekking gets unique front and rear body panels, two-tone interior trim and premium cloth upholstery, while the top-of-the-line Lounge gets amenities like leather upholstery, heated front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control. The automated manual transmission is standard on the top-of-the-line Lounge, while the other trims are available with either transmission.
In reviews, we found the 500L to be softer and less nimble than the standard 500 on the road. Ride quality can get a bit busy on uneven road surfaces and its upright stance and large side mirrors combine to create lots of wind noise within the cabin. With the automated manual transmission, the car can be slow to respond when accelerating from a traffic light or merging onto a freeway. On the plus side, steering is precise and the 500L navigates turns with confidence.
Designed to be more family-friendly than the regular 500 two-door coupe and convertible, the L is 27 inches longer and 6 inches wider and taller than its sibling. This opens up considerably more headroom for taller drivers, while the extra hip- and shoulder room in the backseat makes it a more viable option if you've got kids. It's still a bit too compact to seat three adults in back. The 500L's maximum cargo capacity of 68 cubic feet rivals that of larger compact crossovers, and its 21.3 cubic feet with the seats raised is similarly segment-leading. However, real-world utility is hampered by a high cargo lift-over height and rear-seat backrests that don't fold totally flat.
There's plenty of style inside the Fiat 500L. It looks distinct from the regular 500 thanks to its revised dash, instrumentation and steering wheel. This wagon features the latest version of Chrysler's Uconnect technology, which provides enhanced functionality for smartphones via the car's Bluetooth connection. You can wirelessly stream music from your mobile device, and the system offers text-to-speech capability for SMS messages sent to MAP-enabled phones. A six-speaker Beats by Dr. Dre sound system is also available, as is a dual-pane sunroof (though it significantly reduces headroom). There's a large assortment of interior and exterior color combinations, too, and you can opt for cloth or leather upholstery.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 58.00
Shes a keeper! - 2014 Fiat 500L
By Ron Lakes - January 12 - 10:49 am
Weve had our 500L for 2 years now, though have only put on 14K miles so far, and its my wifes daily driver. Ours is the Trekking trim with the 6 speed Dual-Dry-Clutch Transmission. In response to an earlier recent review where the reviewer gave the car just 1 star, my experience couldnt be more different. To start off, I love the transmission, but Ive adapted my driving habits to ensure its longevity. It is, after all, an automatically shifted manual- not a slush box. What Im talking about is, for example, to select the gear you want using the manual mode when in stop and go traffic, in particular when youre creeping along, and I always put it in neutral if Im going to be stopped for any length of time. The reasons for driving the DDCT in this way are a bit technical, and maybe thats why dual clutch transmissions havent caught on so well stateside. In any case, for 2015 all but the Pop trim come with the Aisin slush box if you opt for an auto transmission. Ive had no problem with the car rolling backwards on a slight incline when pulling away from a stop, and hill hold assist works well when on any incline greater than "slight". The engine has proven to be plenty quick enough for merging with traffic etc. and frugal if youre easy on the gas. Ive gotten upwards of 39 mpg when on back roads with no traffic, 34 or so on interstates, 25 to 27 in town (lots of cold starts routinely, so the economy suffers a bit for that). Some criticize the 500L for having too firm of a ride, but to me it is sublime, giving a very nice balance between ride and handling. The steering weights up nicely as you turn in, though I wish the turn-in response were a little sharper. It is very stable once into a corner, and its fun to hustle it if youre in the mood, though the car is really excellent at just cruising on a sunny day, esp. if youve opted for the panoramic roof. The 500L is reasonably quiet at highway speeds, and for our small family its a great road trip car. The upright seating position gives us long term comfort, and the expansive window area provides for an excellent view in all directions. Weve found the front seats to be very comfortable with excellent adjustable lumbar support, though folks of longer inseam are more likely to have an issue with proper thigh support. For 2015 the front seat bottom cushions have been lengthened to address this issue. How I have the drivers seat adjusted allows me full view of the instrument binnacle, though I can see where some might have issues with that- perhaps running a lower seat height and a bit more recline would do the trick for them. The parking brake handle works OK, though ergonomically it could be better. Infotainment is intuitive, simple, and has been trouble free for us. It synchs up with my 160gb ipod classic pretty quickly too. Ive had Hondas, Acuras, VWs etc. and this has become my favorite. We decided to buy a MOPAR extended warranty just for peace of mind. Ours has been stone reliable save for the recalls for an airbag and a transmission re-flash.
Excited to Frustrated/Alarmed - 2014 Fiat 500L
By William Pilcher - December 28 - 1:23 pm
Excited to buy, loved having a fiat but should have done more homework but when we bought last year there was not this much about the cars. Purchased it as a commuter/local use. Love the room inside, lots of head room, wide so you are not rubbing you elbows and the back seat is very roomy as mentioned in other reviews. Cons:1. on a slight incline when you take your foot off of the brake the clutch takes about 2 seconds to engage, so you roll back and there is a slight pause before power goes to the wheels. Nearly got T Boned the first time, 2. going uphill the power steering looses power so you have to exert more muscle to turn the wheel, then in the middle of the curve the power returns and if you are not ready you end up in the oncoming lane, 3. As mentioned in earlier reviews the brake are not consistent, one time quick and grabby the next there is pedal drop before a smooth application, 4. The low beam headlights do not illuminate nearly far enough, I asked the dealer to dial them higher and he told me they were as high as they would mechanically go. I jus keep them on high beam all of the time and almost nobody notices, If you live in the city you would never notice but if you are driving around back roads or not spending all of your time on interstates then you will feel blind, 5. As mentioned earlier there are few dealers in the Dodge/Chrysler organization that have a trained Fiat mechanics so you have to go to the Fist dealer for anything beyond oil change despite the dealers claim that you can get service at any Dodge/Chrysler service shop, 6. The front seats are not comfortable for a drive longer than 20 minutes, there do not go back far enough for me to have my legs (510"), 7. The steering wheel tilts but only slightly so that if you tilt it up it stops and blocks part of the display, They give you plenty of head room but the car does not accommodate persons over 5 5" or so, we tested with friends, 9. we have had the car for just over a year and I was thinking about trading it in for another Dodge/Chrysler product and the dealer appraised the car at $8,000 and the salesman informed me that it was one of the worst depreciating cars in the USA and he had about 15 used Fiats. I am not 18 and understand car depreciate. I am also old enough over 45 to have driven many cars and know the difference between not liking the feel of handling of a car and not feeling safe driving a car. At first I thought I just needed to get used to it but over time it just gets worst and having to adjust my driving to keep from getting into a dangerous situation is not healthy. I made a big mistake purchasing this car for a number of reasons. I plan to trade it in as soon as I can research and purchase a replacement.
Undervalued, poorly reviewed car = great deal1 - 2014 Fiat 500L
By Scoutyspice - December 18 - 7:34 pm
CAR--2014 FIAT TREKKING MANUAL trans BEATS Audio fully LOADED (no sunroof, heated seats or visor-built-in garage door opener) PAID: $14,595 + tax/fees. (Last 2014 left on lot June2015, $9k discount.) NOTE: CAPS are used for easy reference of points in article. REPLACED--2003 VW PASSAT wagon 1.8lT ABOUT US—This is our SO CA family car. We’ve owned mostly German cars (BMW & MB), my European husband was reluctant to buy it. This car cost half of the Subaru Outback wagon we intended on purchasing. We both have lived in Europe, so the look, size, & power of the car are not strange to us. We installed a THULE roof rack, a FIAT garage installed trailer-hitch for our Thule hitch-mounted bike rack. We are 58" & 63". SHORT REVIEW—We are impressed & got a great deal. I can’t stress enough: FIND A GOOD FIAT STUDIO/DEALER/GARAGE, as this will directly affect your satisfaction. INITIAL REVIEW-- The GOOD--Great bang for the buck. Fun to drive. A comfortable ride with DECENT SUSPENSION. PASSENGER SPACE comparable to our Passat with better headroom (friends 6’5” sat in the back, & another 6’6” in the front comfortably). Both front & rear seats are adjustable to customize needs and comfort. Intuitive layout & usage of COCKPIT & CONTROLS. We are enjoying the technology: SAT NAV, tech ports, 110v plug, dash trip computer, etc. Good use of SPACE (for a car this size). THE WEIRD-- Strange PARKING BRAKE. Stalled 1-2xs daily for first few weeks getting out of FIRST GEAR (different than other cars weve owned). Optical illusion of SIZE & SHAPE--Car is much roomier inside than appears. 6 MO REVIEW-- OVERALL—Still enjoying the ride & options. Car is now broken-in (& so are we), so we aren’t stalling out of first gear beyond normal occurrences. We’ve gotten used to the PARKING BRAKE. The GAS MILEAGE is decent (22-23/city & +26/hwy, with nearly 30mpg on long hwy trips. Seems to be improving.) The Trekking’s FABRIC SEATS (leather not available on this model) are more self-regulating than I would have assumed. After our hot SO CA summer and now our ‘cold’ weather, all is well. (I don’t miss having heated seats.) A 500L’s sunroof’s screen is perforated, so it will not fully shut out the sun even when closed, and roof racks are not compatible, so I am doubly glad we don’t have one. CRITICAL—NO DEAL-BREAKERS. But…The DOORS lack a ‘stop’ mechanism, they don’t ‘fly’ open, but don’t open in a controlled manner when exiting your vehicle. The BLUETOOTH: good as an mp3 player, bad for talking on the phone. The MIC picks up too much sound from the dash vent & such. We had the ‘DEAD BATTERY issue’ (as noted by other owners) because of a SOFTWARE UPDATE that didn’t take (our FIAT studio’s garage checked-off as ‘done’), which was remedied by another FIAT garage. This other garage is a combo FIAT/JEEP, so they had the knowledge & know-how to install our TRAILER HITCH. So,—FIND A GOOD FIAT STUDIO/DEALER. Many negative reviews stem from issues with a dealership rather than the brand. Hopefully FIAT can remedy this somehow, as they put out a decent product. We have heard about some transmission problems, but we since we have manual, we are hoping to avoid that.
Bought a 2014 "New" Treeking for $14K - 2014 Fiat 500L
By Jason Moore - December 14 - 10:57 pm
Review 2014 FIAT 500L Trekking w/ 6 Spd manual white - no options besides 6.5" Navigation Pros: 1. Paid $14k for a new car with 100 miles, full warranty (4 yrs/50 mi). 10/10) 2. Navigation, bluetooth, mp3 (via USB and/or SD card), andUconnect all work well. (9/10) 3. Comfort - very roomy. Took my wife, daughter (5yr. w/ car seat), and in-laws to and their luggage to the airport - 10/10. 4. Manuverability/drivability - 1) the lighest clutch Ive ever experienced. 2) short turning radius - makes parking and U-turns very easy. 3) Sturdy - feels like you are driving a Town & Country minivan (about the same ride height) 4) 1st gear is weird, but 3rd gear is when the torque shows up. 5) drives well in the snow. Was able to get up/over ice/snow covered hills that I used to get stuck on with old car. 6) at 700 miles, I get 24.5 MPG city, 34.5 highway. The highest highway MPG was 37.0 (5 peo people plus luggage - going to the airport). I paid $15 to fill my tank (regular, even though premium is recommended) a few days ago. Small tank, decent range. 7) Power steering is like theold luxury cars from the 70s & 80s - light & easy. 5. Easter eggs - 1) the first day I got it, the arm rest was in the way of my shifting. You can lower it by pulling on the feont latch and pushing it down (at an angle) perfect for resting your arm and shifting. 2) You can keep your headlights switched to "on" all the time - basicall like auto headlights. 3) When you turn your wheel (right or left) the fog lights come on to light the path. 4) the fog lights are very bright. 5) You can set a max spedd limit to get a reminder of when you go over a certain speed (I set mine to 75). You can also set the Navigation to aler t you when you are druving over the posted speed limit. 5. In reverse, the rear windshield wiper automatically truns on. 6. If you make a panic stop - hit the brake hard, the hazard lights will automatically flach - alerting drivers behind you. Cons 1) There are some rattles when driving over rough roads. The conversation mirror makes noise if you forget to stow it. 2) I was on the highway, and the fasten seatbelt buzzer went off. I un-fastened and re-fastened my bektm but it cintinued to chime. It only stopped when I buckled the (empty) frint passenger seat. It hasnt happened since. 3) one morning, I noticed that the exterior lights were on (overnight?), car was slow to start/crank over, but still started. Will turn the lights one/off manually. Regrets: None - At first I wanted Beats and the moonroof, and the black roof (with the rest of the car white), but it was beyond the scope of my budget, and would ultimately just make the car colder/hotter/louder. Looked at the 2015 Urbanna - but didnt want to pay more. I could see black wheels getting old/boring after a few years. I like tge styling and floating roof design w/ Trekking body cladding. Overall 9/10 - My parents alwats drover cars different than everyone else, and now so do I.
Absolute joy! (And Efficiency too) - 2015 Fiat 500L
By Vessela Raskov - November 14 - 3:15 pm
What a jewel! After 13 long and great years with my Toyota Matrix, time for change. Bought - a month ago - a top-end 2015 Fiat 500L Trekking Auto (with sunroof) and all the extras (park camera, fog lights, beats sound, etc.) and I cannot be Happier!! Easily, this is the most underrated vehicle in our land. Is it a stand-out? Yes. Is it of the boring same-ness of your usual highway gray/black/white avalanche of moving "boxes" on wheels, No! Leaving the outstanding aesthetics of this truly Italian design (at its best, think Pininfarina), how about getting 26.1 mpg in the first 1298 miles! I was not expecting this kind of fuel economy. My sticker said, 25mpg combined…so this is a bonus! Heavily driven so far in the best of both driving-validating worlds to compare - the epitome of an urban jungle - New York Citys unforgiving traffic - and the pristine, meandering beauty of upstate New York, I must say, this car is a Winner. Popemobile, size-wise - no Plenty of space Inside!! Unlike the VW sport wagon or Ford transit wagon, no cramped cockpit with your knees squeezed. Brisk maneuverability, great for parking and good storage space (at expense of smallish back seats). Quick, responsive engine - the turbo kicks in like a jet - whisks you when you need it most merging in traffic, changing lanes, etc. Incomparable views! Visibility is outstanding. Heavy rains upstate for the past 3 days (and nights) and Not one drop inside of car…even if basically the entire roof being glass (half of it operable/can open). Seats are ergonomic/comfortable and firm (sorry coach potatoes), lumber support, excellent. Everything is adjustable so its not just good for a 62" guy…..too bad we dont have the European long body version of it. This car also will talk to you - voice recognition works seamlessly and pairing my smartphone took 2 minutes. Infotainment system is impeccable. The space inside, along with the plethora of great sound - jazz, blues, classical, info, whatever is your wish - makes me feel like in a concert hall. To all those who hesitate, Dont! I would like to stress, its not just the design that is great but Function-saturated feast on wheels. Whats amazing is that what appears small is actually big! And once inside, you stand in a very comparable height level (ive got the 17" wheels) with all the SUVs mastodons around you. So for those of smaller stature, youll feel at great driving height, Without paying a fortune for a "true" SUV...The price value was unbelievable. I got a great deal and I quickly seized it as I bought the car for under 20k..!! My grade: A+.
More spacious than it looks - Trekking way to go! - 2015 Fiat 500L
By Liane - November 14 - 1:56 pm
I had been waiting for the 2016 models to come out, but I found the body on the 2015 500L Trekking model to be a far more attractive and more Italian look. I ended up buying the 2015 500L Trekking with the "Beats" sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio, AISIN Heavy Duty 6-speed automatic transmission and U-connect touch screen. I use it for driving around San Francisco with all the hills and find it handles well. I love the headlights that move to follow your turns and curves. It is very easy to fold down the rear seats and create a spacious flat cargo area. The back seats also have the ability to recline to an almost flat bed like seat. The dual climate control keeps the front seat passengers happy and as the driver I enjoy the comfort of Power driver 4-way Lumbar Adjust. The visibility is amazing! With large windows all around and front pillar split by glass and wraparound rear windows. I also own a VW Touareg and honestly have better visibility in this Fiat. Features like the rear backup camera, rear park assist system and hands-free phone connectivity add to safety and convenience. The 17-inch wheels hold the road well even when driving on the freeway in rain. All in all for the price I paid I feel very satisfied with my new car and must admit I enjoy the compliments from those who notice it in the bright yellow and black combination. The gloss black instrument panel bezels are a beautiful upgrade included in the Urbana Trekking Collection 1.
I LOVE my 2015 Fiat 500L Trekking 6-speed automati - 2015 Fiat 500L
By Mark - November 10 - 9:39 am
I had a 2012 500 Sport and it was time for something bigger, I love the look of the 500X and had to take one for a test drive. I picked a Black 500X Trekking AWD, I liked the comfortable ride and was impressed with the 9 speed transmission. While talking about the numbers with my sales person, I could not take my eyes of this 2015 Rosso Perla colored 500L Trekking that was on the show room floor. After a few days I still could not get that car out of my mind, so I went back and test drove that 500L and I loved the cavernous feel on the inside, but it isnt enormous outside (love the cargo area and fold down back seats) it sips gas, has really good visibility, comfortable front seats and a smooth drive. The AISIN Heavy Duty 6 speed automatic shifts great and responds well when I need to down shift for passing or merging onto the highway. So for me I had to have the 500L Trekking, a week after I got it we took it on our family vacation. And it was very comfortable on that long 4 hour road trip to Todd PA. It got around 34 mpg (all highway driving) and on my normal day to day driving I average around 30 combined. I do love this car. Ive had no problems whatsoever with it (its still very new, only 1850 miles, so Ill keep my fingers crossed). Its weird, cute, bug-eyed looking and these are all positives to me. I have absolutely no regrets having moved into a car that performs the same functions of getting me around, but gives me so much more enjoyment than the average same-old same-old car everyone else has. Family, friends and coworkers always ask me "Why another Fiat?" aMy response is always the same, go test drive one for yourself and you will see why I love them. Not every poor review about the Fiat brand is true you cant believe everything you read.
Too Much Too Soon - 2014 Fiat 500L
By annette markert - November 3 - 12:40 pm
Service has been terrible. Had it in 6 times for the check engine light. Bluetooth is terrible. I can hear who Ive called, but when the car is moving, they can barely understand what I am saying.
Sleeper of a deal... - 2015 Fiat 500L
By Carl M. - October 14 - 9:02 pm
WHY is this car not more popular? I mean, I know it looks "different", but thats a good thing in the endless sea of "blah" crossovers and SUVs. Had to give up my beloved VW GTI because were "of a certain age" and getting in/out of a vehicle is now a major factor for us. This thing is a hoot. I dont understand any of the reviews that state the car has a rough ride. We rented a Cadillac ATS a while back, and this cars ride is, unbelievably, just as good. We find the engine plenty peppy (remember, I traded in my GTI for this), the transmission is just fine, and the steering is nice and light for dodging other cars in parking lots. Ive got 1000 miles on it as of this review, and no problems. The interior of this car is GI-MON-GOUS. Huge headroom, legroom, and space in all directions. I wish more people would test drive these things Once you drive one, youll buy it. Very very European driving experience. Youll love it.
Our Italian Car - - 2015 Fiat 500L
By Nguyen - August 31 - 4:35 pm
Read a lot of reviews - Bad and good. Decided to visit OCFIAT, took a test drive (500L Urbana Trekking with BEATS sound) bought the car one week later. Love the car ever since. Bought mine at Orange County Fiat (Costa Mesa, CA.)