A charmer in a different way |
Any model Fiat 500 is eye-catching in its own respective way. The well-known little icon is instantly recognizable on the road, and so is its big brother, the 500L. As far as small people movers go, the 500L is a great option in today’s market. I spent some time with a 2014 Fiat 500L Trekking to see just how well it holds up to the name.
To start the week off, I had to travel across the city of Toronto in rush hour to pick up my test car. I couldn’t have picked a worse time to do so, but there was a positive outcome to this situation. I was able to instantly get acquainted with the main highlight of my test car; the 6-speed manual transmission.
Though the 500L is pretty unique-looking, I often hear people say it looks like the Mini Countryman, which is a very close competitor. My tester was painted in Verde Bosco (Forest Green) with the white roof and mirrors. There are four trim models on the 500L; Pop, Sport, Trekking, and Lounge. My Trekking tester is my preferred style with its aggressive-looking, unique front fascia and body effects. It was also riding on 17” aluminum wheels that added to the funky vibe of the car.
Moving onto the interior of the Fiat 500L, I was actually surprised at how spacious it really was. I felt as though I had more room inside the Fiat than my mother has in her minivan, likely due to the huge windows and great sightlines. The seats had a rugged fishnet-like fabric surrounded with leather around the trim. They also have lumbar support, and though I usually leave it off, I was pleased at how firm and supportive the seats actually were. I’m also a shorter driver, so my seating position is a bit different from the typical driver. My only issue with the driving position was that in order to adjust climate control or audio settings, I needed to look straight down and away from the road. The rear seats of the 500L are raised, not akin to theater seating. This makes for a particularly enjoyable ride for rear seat passengers, avoiding the need to crane their necks to get a look at the road ahead.
Fiat rates the 500L Trekking at 8.0L/100km in the city and 6.0L/100km in highway driving. Overall, my commute with the car involved a healthy combination between city and highway driving. Using 91-octane fuel, I wasn’t able to see numbers varying very far from the 7.8L/100km range, which isn’t bad at all for relatively spirited driving with the turbocharged engine.
The 500L comes equipped with only a 1.4L MultiAir turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This engine is available on the Dodge Dart as well as the punchy Fiat 500 Abarth. We have already tested the 500L with the 6-speed dual-clutch transmission, so it was a pleasant change to see that my tester came equipped with a regular 6-speed automatic. Horsepower output is 160 and torque is 184 lb-ft, which moves the 500L along quite nicely, and the transmission is quite good. The shifter is effortless and smooth, and the clutch grab point is very predictable. I did find the clutch a bit light compared to my car, a 2014 Mazda3.
On the technology and infotainment side of the car, the not-so-little Fiat did come packed with a lot of goodies. Options on board were the Customer Preferred Package, the Safety Group, the ParkSense park assist and the ParkView reverse camera. My tester also came with the power sunroof and the Beats Premium Audio system. Sure, the Beats name may come with some added stereotypes, but the system is excellent; likely the single biggest thing I miss after turning in the keys. Also, the navigation system is easy to use and very user-friendly. Adding to the base price of $24,195 for the Trekking model, my tester came in at a smidge over $29,000.
Overall, I rather enjoyed my time with the Fiat 500L Trekking. I did get some comments on how unappealing it is to look at, but personally I’m a fan of its quirky styling. It reminds me of the Fiat Multipla of the 1990s. With the huge panoramic sunroof and the large windshield, I felt like I was in a large glass bubble. This makes visibility excellent. I really look forward to seeing what Fiat does with the next-generation 500; this current one is a real charmer in all iterations.
2014 Fiat 500L Trekking Gallery