Fiat has been steadily gaining back a foothold in the North American marketplace and now looks to continue that growth with the 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge. The all-new 2014 Fiat 500L expands the Cinquecento’s appeal by offering 42 percent extra interior space with comfortable seating for five. We drove a 500L Lounge for a one week test and came away with the following impressions.
According to Fiat, the 500L was designed with the active and thrill-seeking North American customer in mind, as the 2014 Fiat 500L Trekking expands the appeal and practicality of the Fiat 500L with distinct and rugged looks. We found the 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, white roof and bi-function halogen projector headlamps to be very stylish, but the overall design was not as sharp as competitors in our opinion. There is no question that the 2014 Fiat 500L Lounge has its own look, but that look can come off as somewhat quirky. A design that could build off the cool front fascia might be the way to go here!
When you enter the cabin of the 500L Lounge, there is no doubt that quality materials played a big role in the finished product. Fiat went for a “loft-like interior,” which will work for some car buyers, but there is also a feeling that you’re in a miniature school bus. With that feel comes way more room that the two-door 500, but without the sporty appeal that we loved about the 500. The power sunroof was large and the Beats premium audio system with six speakers was awesome. One thing that needs to be addressed is too much engine noise making it’s way into the 500L.
If the quality of materials and space of the 500L interior are the high points, the lackluster power and jerky transmission are probably the lowest points. The 1.4 liter engine struggled at times to really take off when needed, even though there was a turbo component. Handling was better but overshadowed by the lack of power. There is positive news on the fuel efficiency front, with the 500L Lounge clocking 24mpg in the city and 33mpg in highway driving.
Fiat has really capitalized on the 500 brand with a global appeal and now literally growing the car into the four-door 500L. The looks are reminiscent of a 1960s people mover, and there is a certain flair that goes with the 500L. The question comes down to exactly how many folks in the U.S. are going to choose the 500L over other compact CUV or wagon competitors. We feel the price of a loaded 500L Lounge as tested of $28,245 will work in the new Fiat’s favor, with some rivals asking much more for the same overall dimensions. After the launch of the Fiat 500 in North America a few years back, we didn’t know which vehicle would be next to arrive, and although the new 500L will most likely find a niche following, there is so much more that Fiat could do here to gain real market share in the U.S. with a sedan or sports car.