Taking it slow and easy is the best way to drive the 500L. It's a cruiser and any attempts at sporty driving were met with disappointment.
May 20, 2014 4:49 PM PDTUpdated: May 20, 2014 5:54 PM PDT
Photo by: Antuan Goodwin/CNET
/ Caption by: Antuan Goodwin
Despite being rather large for a vehicle wearing a Fiat badge, the 500L is fairly compact when compared to the small wagons and crossovers with which it competes.
The L's footprint is smaller than those of the Scion xB or Mazda CX-5, but the interior volume is larger than either vehicle.
This makes the 500L an easy car to park in the cramped confines of the city.
The 500L is significantly larger than the 500 coupe with which it shares its name.
The 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged engine is the same mill that you'd find under the hood of a 500 Turbo.
The engine is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, also with six speeds.
The 500L's cabin feels a bit cheap to me, even with optional comfort upgrades.
The L rides on Koni suspension at all four corners (with MacPhersons up front and torsion beam on the rear).
The "L" in 2014 Fiat 500L Trekking stands for "large."
The most spacious ride in the Car Tech garage this week poses with the least spacious one.
Seen here in the Trekking trim level, the L features gray plastic accents that are meant to evoke a sporty, active lifestyle.
However, with front wheel-drive being the only powertrain configuration available in the States as well as a "normal duty" suspension, the 500L isn't going off-road anytime soon.
Enlarged, 17-inch alloy wheels fill the 500L Trekking's wheel wells but still seem too small beneath the plastic cladding and the bulbous body.
The 500L stretches Fiat's cutesy design language across a much larger canvas than before. Personally, I think the result is a bit awkward looking.
Behind this enlarged 500's grille breathes the engine of a much smaller car.
Power is stated at 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration is...acceptable.
Generous greenhouse glass gives the 500L's spacious cabin a light and airy feel.
The optional power sunroof opens nearly the entire roof with tinted glass to let the sun shine in.
This is easily one of the best creature comforts that the 500L offers.
The ride is smooth enough, but the top-heavy 500L doesn't corner very well.
The 500L does not feature a CD or DVD drive for physical discs. Users have access to an SD card reader, a USB port, and Bluetooth audio streaming for their digital media.
The Uconnect infotainment system is borrowed from Fiat's friends at the Chrysler group.
This example's premium audio system has been upgraded with the optional Beats Audio system, which adds a powered subwoofer for strong bass.
Steering wheel controls are logically laid out and feature rockers for volume and skip on the backside of the horizontal spokes.
Instrumentation is a bit difficult to read at a glance. The speedometer's numbers are cluttered, and the orange-on-yellow information display is low contrast.
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