By on February 7, 2013

What happens when foreigners have been in America for a few years? They start getting fat like Americans. And so it is with the 2014 Fat 500L which has gained mass, two doors and a plumper overall visage. We found a red model strutting its chunky stuff at the back of the Chicago Auto Show For some reason we weren’t allowed inside, but we were able to caress it through the open windows.


Fiat kept referring to the 500L as some sort of MINI Clubman competitor, but I tend to think only shoppers of the Countryman CUV will be looking at the larger Fiat. On the outside the 500L looks slightly overinflated with suspicious looking bulges everywhere. The inside is a different story however with interior bits that put MINI to shame. Not that they are overly luxurious but MINI’s parts bin is a hard plastic wonderland.

Fiat says the 500L will be front wheel drive only for the moment, although the rumor mill indicates the platform has been designed with AWD in mind. The same 1.4L turbo engine from the 500 Abarth is found under the hood giving the baby crossover 160HP and 184lb-ft of twist. Also on board is a 6-speed manual or Fiat’s dual dry clutch transmission. Infotainment options are also taking a step in the right direction bringing Chrysler’s slick uConnect system to an optional 6.5-inch touch scree in the dash. I spent some time playing with the display system and it looks to be better in my opinion than MINI’s rendition of iDrive and light-years ahead of what’s in the current 500. So far, nobody is talking pricing.

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30 Comments on “Chicago Auto Show: 2014 Fiat 500L...”


  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Although I think the C pillar and rear hatch could have been handled more elegantly, aside from that the L looks good. My chief complaint with the two door is the complete uselessness of the rear seats. Has the extra wheelbase made them usable by people with legs?

    • 0 avatar

      The C pillar is a nod to the Fiat Panda. When this started out in the drawing boards there was so internal debate if this car should be a Panda or 500 X-Large. The 500 crowd won, but the C pillar will always be there as a homage to the Panda.

      • 0 avatar
        ZekeToronto

        Now that you’ve pointed it out, I see the family resemblance. It’s funny, because my first inclination was to think they were copying Mini, whose C pillars (with the exception of the regular two door) are also awkward.

  • avatar

    #1 MYGIG should be STANDARD on every single car Chrysler/Fiat sells – with an optional upgrade to Uconnect Touch 8.4n.

    #2 For them to stretch a 500 is like a confession that the car was too small for the American market in the first place.

    • 0 avatar

      As per #2 you are completely off your rockers.

      As per #1, I could care less for this kind of thing in a car.

      The 500 and the 500L rock!

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      @ big trucks,

      I don’t personally agree on #1. I am really happy with a basic stereo with auxiliary input, and my ipod. For hands-free (mandatory in Alberta) I have a nice headset that people cannot hear my conversations when I am sitting at a light in summer. To me, depending on the consumers needs, a screen system just adds unwanted complexity and cost.

      I am not a screen hater, but for some its certainly not a necessity.

      • 0 avatar
        mklrivpwner

        #1 – with the proliferation of smartphones, iPods, iPhones, and mP3/mP4 players (Flash, HDD, SSD, you name it), it doesn’t make sense to even include this as an option. If you could dl your music to the system via USB, it’d be different. But even then, I’d want the flexibility of replacing the head unit for better sound without having to lose the HDD. So unless they have the capability of controlling the HDD through a second head-unit while the Stock unit is “tucked away” (a la mid to late 90′s Honda), MyGig just isn’t worth it.

        #2 That was the criticism ever since the 500L rumor started (which was before the 500 even hit the shores). Saying that a car is too small before it even goes on sale is akin to saying Hollywood made the Lord of the Ring movies because Americans don’t read.

  • avatar
    mmarreco

    This thing looks like a poorly executed chinese knock-off of the 500

  • avatar

    Fiat do Brasil, do yourself a favor and bring this over. This will give you a premium halo like no Freemont on Linea can.

    Depending on pricing, if this were available, when things get better, I could easily talk my wife into one. As is, looks like I’ll probably be getting her a Renault Duster. Sigh.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Can I get one with 22 inch wheels?

  • avatar
    wmba

    It weighs 3200 lbs, same as a Dart. Has same transmission choices. Fail.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Keep them in the low 20s to start, don’t let the loaded models top 30K and they’ll be popular.

    And don’t skimp on the color options; let customers order from a dozen choices and let them mix and match for the roof cap as well.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    This has got to be on a different platform (or successor platform) than the current 500 for sale. The A pilar, vent window, and to my eye the over hang length are all different. It looks more like a 500 face on a Panda. Factor in the fact that they sell a AWD panda and that just makes me mad. If it’s a different car just say that!

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The rear seat in my 500 Abarth does just fine for my 9 and 4 year olds. A rear-facing infant seat would be a nonstarter but that would go for most cars these days. Basically, I think of the 500 as a really fun commuter car that allows me to have kids and not miss my old Miata ianf 911 too much. Like many (most?) suburban families we have another car for serious people-moving anyway (a Mazda5 in my case) so the 500 does perfectly well for commuting and dinghy duty.

    My only gripe about the 500L is that the 6-speed manual should have been in the Abarth if for nothing more than a taller highway gear. That 1.4 Turbo is a sweet little engine and the sound in the Abarth is addicting.

    • 0 avatar

      Why? I can put a child seat in my Ford Ka that is marginally bigger than the 500! He’s of an age though that he sits looking forward. And my wife is short!

      Seriously though, I agree. One day I wish to emulate you though in a way I do now. We have a Renault Logan for road trips and usually take it if the baby is with us. But I’ve gone in many rides with my family in the Ka. I would have no qualms taking a short weekend trip in it. Recently we did, but wifey overruled me and we just went in the Renault. But I was wanting to see how we would manage it the Ka. Mighty cozy but that’s family!

      • 0 avatar
        Athos Nobile

        Marcelo, as spacious as the Logan is, it is still too small. Believe me. And I’m not even to go to the engine side of the matter.

        I wouldn’t change my Commodore for anything smaller for family wheels. And current compacts are HUGE compared with what they were 15 to 20 years ago.

        He’s right about the seats. Even my son’s current one would be a tight fit in a Palio. Although my wife managed to squeeze it in her friend’s Fit…

      • 0 avatar
        stevelovescars

        A regular car seat or booster fits in the 500 just fine. My youngest is still in a seat and CA law mandates a booster for kids up to 8 years of age. I was specifically referring to the huge rear-facing seats use for infants. These barely fit even in some mid sized cars if the front seat passenger is tall.

      • 0 avatar

        Hola Athos! Lo sé, lo sé (I know, I know), bit I got it for around 15 000 dollars. Corollas and Civics and Doblòs cost 30 000. To get really more space would have to be Azera, Fusion, Freemont, but those cost 40 000 (USD) on up! What’s a man to do? I understand where you’re coming from, but the advantage is marginal considering the price gap. And I get 500L in my trunk. And economy. And I learn to drrive patiently and push my skills to keep the car moving! So win, win for me!

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      I wholeheartedly agree. It would be nice to have that 6th gear and I’m jonesin’ every day for that sweet sound.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I sat in one of these at the Houston Auto Show. I was actually quite impressed with the upright seating position. Lends itself to a very roomy interior.

    If they keep the price reasonable and car reliable I can see them selling quite a few….

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Better than a Calibre. Wait for the SRT-4. That would be sweet.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Ugly exterior, nice interior. That’s how my xB1 was.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Fiat would be smart to bring over the normal Panda. Brilliant chassis, practical packaging, cheap, cheap, cheap running costs. The gas model gets about the same mileage as my motorcycle and can do 100 MPH w/o a sweat. Fiat’s attempt to market itself as a high fashion boutique brand is a mistake.

  • avatar
    Joe

    I saw one of these (in red) on the road. Well, parked next to a pizza place in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. Fiat must be making pre-production 500Ls available as pizza delivery vehicles, which is a pretty cool marketing idea.

    For some reason, it looks better in pictures than in person. But my girlfriend loved it and wants it to replace her Escape. While I’m always happy to engage in public service and remove a woman-piloted SUV from the road, I’m wondering if this is the closest I’ll get to an Abarth.


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