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2015 Fiat 500L

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/24/2015 Stefan Ogbac

New for 2015

The 2015 Fiat 500L is now available with a third transmission choice: a six-speed automatic that's standard in the Lounge trim and optional in the Easy and Trekking models. Trekking models gain two new exterior colors: Blue Tornado and Rosso Perla (Deep Lava Red).

UPDATE: A special edition called the Urbana Trekking will be available from early 2015 and is priced at $23,645 including destination. The 500L Urbana Trekking comes with 17-inch black wheels, chrome door handles, and special accents on the front and rear fascia. Five exterior colors are available, red, green, yellow, gray, white, and blue, while cloth seats are standard. A six-speaker Beats by Dr. Dre audio system is standard and comes with a 6.5-inch subwoofer. Learn more in the Motor Trend news post here.

Vehicle Summary

The 2015 Fiat 500L is a tall four-door hatchback available in four trims. The 500L is focused on utility and practicality, with seating for up to five and rear seats that fold flat and tumble forward for more cargo space. This car uses a longer and wider platform than the 500 hatch and convertible doesn’t share many mechanical components. A turbocharged 1.4-liter I-4 rated at 160 hp and 184 lb-ft is the only engine available and is paired to a choice of three six-speed transmissions: a manual, a European-style twin-clutch or a conventional automatic transmission. Fuel economy is decent for a tall vehicle at 25/33 mpg city/highway with the manual, 24/33 mpg with the twin-clutch, and 22/30 mpg with the automatic.

Overview

Interior space is where the 2015 Fiat 500L excels, with a false floor in the rear and up to 68 cubic feet of cargo volume when the rear seats are folded and tumbled forward. Seating for five passengers is good, but the center rear position is tight for larger adults. Visibility out of the 500L is excellent due to the car having wide windows, glass A- to D-pillars, and a large windshield. Fiat-Chrysler’s UConnect infotainment system is easy to use and responsive regardless of whether the car is equipped with the standard five-inch touchscreen or the larger six-inch unit with navigation.

Despite having 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, the 500L’s extra weight makes it slow off the line due to its sluggish throttle response. Additionally, thanks to a bit of turbo lag, the car doesn’t come alive until it's past 2500 rpm. Handling is decent with good stability and well-controlled body motions for such a tall car but its comfort oriented chassis means that the 500L is better as a cruiser rather than a canyon carver.

The 2015 Fiat 500L has not been tested by the NHTSA. In IIHS evaluations, the car earned a good score in four categories and a poor rating in the small overlap front test (good is the highest possible score).

What We Think

As a family car or a cargo hauler, the 2015 Fiat 500L excels with its cavernous and flexible interior, which rivals some crossovers. In a 2012 First Drive review of a 500L prototype, we appreciated the car's false cargo floor, double-folding rear seats, and comfort-tuned suspension, which gives it a compliant ride even through rough surfaces. Performance, however, is a weak point.

In a 2014 First Drive review, we said that the car’s throttle response “is a tad sluggish,” which forces the driver to “put the pedal to the metal” to get the car going. Handling is “topsy-turvy” around curves due to the car’s tall stature, which makes it better as a cruiser than a canyon carver. During 2014 Motor Trend Car of the Year evaluations, judges said the 500L “drives like it looks—top heavy, wallowing at times, but surprisingly stable at higher speeds.”

You’ll Like

  • Roomy and flexible cabin
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Excellent outward visibility

You Won’t Like

  • Sluggish throttle response
  • Engine has a lot of turbo lag
  • Awkward styling

Key Competitors

  • Kia Soul
  • Mini Countryman
  • Ford C-Max
  • Mazda5
  • Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Rating

2 star

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