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Anthony Sophinos
Automotive Editor - December 13, 2017

Expert Rating

2.2 (Fair)
22 City / 30 Highway

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Fiat may have returned to America six years ago with great fanfare, but the brand's bread-and-butter 500 is a niche car hampered by size and capacity restraints. Because bigger is always better here in the land of milk and honey - or at least more successful - the 500L appeases more mainstream American tastes by offering 42 percent more interior space and seating for five.

What's New for 2018

Fiat has graced the 2018 500L with myriad changes, both cosmetic and functional. A backup camera is now standard fare, as is Fiat-Chrysler's excellent Uconnect infotainment system, accessed via a seven-inch touchscreen display. Going beyond the touchscreen unit, buyers will find a new steering wheel and an overhauled center console that offers relocated cup holders, a new parking brake lever, and a new shifter. Fiat has also seen fit to massage the exterior styling, giving the 500L redesigned front and rear bumpers as well as bodyside moldings. Topping things off are fresh wheel designs and three new exterior hues.


Choosing Your FIAT 500L

The 500L is offered in three distinct trim levels: the base Pop, the mid-level Trekking and the range-topping Lounge. Regardless of trim, propulsion is provided via a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder making 160 horsepower and hooked up to a six-speed automatic. Going back to the original 1955 500, Fiat's reputation hinges on the concept of frugal fun – but the frugality of the 500L is questionable considering the EPA estimates of 22 miles per gallon city, 30 highway and 25 combined, numbers that leave something to be desired in a market where more miserly fours are the norm.

Standard features across all trims include daytime running lamps, air conditioning, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, bluetooth capability, hill-start assist, and and an alarm. Another standard goodie is the Electronic Vehicle Information Center, which can display the average fuel economy, distance to empty, low fuel light, service intervals and outside temperature, all on a TFT screen mounted between the speedometer and tachometer.

If utilizing that last feature proves too distracting, there are a total of seven front, side-curtain and drivers knee airbags as well as active head restraints at the ready on every 500L. However, no driver-assist or crash-avoidance technology is available on any trim level, which means there is no electronic safety net to step in for drivers who may not be paying enough attention.

For those looking to make a bit more of a fashion statement, all 500Ls offer an optional black or white roof with matching side mirrors.


Starting at $21,990 (including a $995 destination charge), the Pop is the cheapest way into a 500L. Buying a Pop will mean cloth gray seats, a six-speaker sound system and 16-inch aluminum wheels. Two option packages are available: The $1,095 Popular Equipment Package, and the $1,895 Premium Package. The former loads up the Pop with power two-way driver lumbar adjust, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control and parking assist technology. The Premium Package builds on the Popular Equipment Package by adding a nine-speaker Beats audio system and an upgraded Uconnect software featuring built-in navigation as well as SiriusXM radio and traffic.


Unique to the $23,990 Trekking is a front and rear fascia highlighted by a satin silver accent and logo. Black wheel arches and moldings also visually differentiate the Trekking from the other two trims. Those wheel arches are filled by 17-inch rims, and the front end sprouts fog lamps unavailable on the Pop. Other standard features include a fold-down rear armrest, ambient interior LED lighting, heated leather seats, the Beats stereo and the more immersive Uconnect system. The Popular Equipment Package is again optional, while a $1,195 sunroof and a $595 Urbana Appearance Package (which adds matte black wheels, bodyside moldings, and the white or black roof) are also available.


The $24,690 Lounge sits at the top of the 500L hierarchy. The main difference versus the Trekking is that the Popular Equipment Package is standard. 17-inch wheels with painted white inserts are an optional upgrade over the standard 17-inch wheels.

CarsDirect Tip

The highest-priced Lounge is the best value. It offers nearly all the available features as standard, and the price point is actually less than a lower-tier Pop and Trekking equipped with the Premium and Popular Equipment packages.

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