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Reviewed: 2016 Fiat 500L

Remember the Pope’s arrival in 2015 to the United States, and the excitement that ensued because he was driven very humbly in a Fiat 500L?

Well, after a week of driving the 500L, I felt I capitalized off of that publicity much like celebrities do in exotic European cars.

Wherever I went, people instantly commented on the 500L’s cute looks and relation to the Pope. It retains much of the 2-door 500’s aesthetics, but with more room and a usable back seat and cargo end.

Seating is comfortable for five. The front seats could use more side support but the surprising availability of power lumbar on both front seats helped increase comfort. The rear bench is well shaped with lots of legroom, and is split 60/40 to expand the cargo area.

The dash layout is uniquely Fiat. Controls and displays use more creative fonts and designs, a mix of colors and materials, to create the sense of a much more expensive vehicle than the 500L actually is.

The 6.5-inch uConnect display was very responsive, easy to pair to and streamed Bluetooth audio with plenty of punch thanks to the Beats audio system. The display also projects the backup camera when in reverse, working with the ParkSense rear parking system to make parallel parking a breeze.

Cruising around town, the 500L shifts smoothly and does a very good job at quelling outside road and wind noise. Accelerating does produce a bit of engine buzz but that’s fairly common from today’s four-cylinder powertrains.

Highway merging and passing were uneventful. There’s plenty of pep to get up to speed and pass when needed.

In a blend of city and highway driving, the 500L averaged 28.1 mpg, exceeding the EPA’s combined rating of 25 mpg.

With a unique design inside and out that is also practical and easily fits five people, Fiat’s 500L should appeal to a wider audience looking for something different out of their daily driver.

Facts
Make: Fiat
Model: 500L
Trim Level: Trekking
Engine: 1.4L Turbo 4-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-Speed Auto
Observed Fuel Economy: 28.1 MPG (mixed driving)
Available Packages: Preferred Package 23H
Base Price: $21,880
As-Tested Price: $29,125

 

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