WHEELS . . .
New for 2018 According to Motor Trend . . .
Fiat updates the 500L’s exterior with a new front and rear fascia, new exterior side moldings, new wheel designs, and new daytime running light lens and rear side reflector designs. Inside, the 500L gets a new instrument cluster display, a redesigned center console with relocated cup holders, a new gear shifter, parking brake handle, an additional USB port, LED interior lighting, and a new steering wheel. New standard equipment includes a rearview camera and the Uconnect 4 system with a 7.0-inch center display screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Blue Denim, Arancio Pastello (Pastel Orange), and Bronzo Metallizzato (Metallic Bronze) are new exterior colors.
The 500L is Fiat’s largest and most expensive hatchback (besides the pricier 500e), positioned above the 500 and 500X models.
The 2018 Fiat 500L comes equipped with one powertrain option, a 160-hp, 184-lb-ft of torque 1.4-liter turbocharged I-4 engine backed by a six-speed automatic transmission that routes power to the front wheels and delivers an EPA-rated 22/30 mpg city/highway. In Motor Trend testing, the 500L Trekking hit 60 mph in 8.6 seconds and stopped from 60 mph in a respectable 121 feet.
The base 500L Pop comes standard with 16-inch aluminum wheels, a bright exhaust tip, heated and powered side view mirrors, front and rear one-touch automatic windows, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, and the previously mentioned Uconnect 4 system with a 7.0-inch center display and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. The top Lounge model adds dual-zone automatic temperature control, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, chrome exterior mirrors, leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, Uconnect 4 with navigation, and a Beats premium audio system.
In IIHS testing, the 2017 Fiat 500L received the lowest rating of Poor for the small overlap front crash evaluation but received the highest rating of Good in the remaining four crash tests (moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats). The front crash prevention evaluation was not conducted because the Fiat 500L does not have emergency automatic braking or any driver assist safety feature. The 500L comes standard with the previously mentioned rearview camera and is available with rear parking sensors.
What We Think
“Out on the open road, this little engine struggles a bit to hustle the biggest 500 up to speed. For around-town driving, it is just fine, but I am concerned about how it would perform on mountain vacations with the whole family onboard and a cargo compartment filled with weekend gear,” we said in a First Drive review of the 2017 Fiat 500L. “The combined result is that the 2017 Fiat 500L doesn’t feel like a very sporty car deep down, which may explain why there’s no Abarth variant offered and why Fiat has never done one of those “little blue pill” Viagra-gag commercial featuring the 500L. No, if you’re into cheeky, boutiquey small four-doors and you need a bit more sport, the Mini Clubman might be a better choice,” we concluded.
In 2014 Car of the Year testing we said, “The 500L weebled and wobbled but didn’t fall down as editors pushed it through the ride and handling course. ‘Drives like it looks — top-heavy, wallowing at times, but also surprisingly stable at higher speeds.’” The judges didn’t care for the interior, “The emergency brake hides under the driver’s armrest, and the gearshift knob on the manual model is the size of a baseball. The second row folds forward and up to create a useless storage space. The upright driving position and the lack of bolstering make it easy for the driver to slide around the seat.” However, the judges agreed that the 500L is driver-friendly, ergonomically sound, and is relatively quiet with a nice ride. “Attempting to sell the 500L here on its practical merits is a waste of energy, just as it would be trying to sell Ram pickups to Europeans.”
When the 500L was first launched, the hatchback utilized a six-speed manual transmission and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic, now it is just offered with a traditional six-speed automatic.