2014 Fiat 500L – Not Your Regular Hatchback [Review]

2014 Fiat 500L front grille review
2014 Fiat 500L

What was the first impression that jumped into your mind when you saw the 2014 Fiat 500L Easy? This hatchback’s playful appearance brings out a smile in some, while others are not amused. Any car with unique or polarizing design is not a bad thing. Vehicles should be as unique and quirky as the people who drive them. However, does this largest of Fiats have what it takes to compete among the tall hatchbacks?

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2014 Fiat 500L Easy $20,395 $23,445 160 / 180
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG Curb Lbs
Rating: BUY IT!
25 / 33 / 28  29.1 3,203

Interior utility and usability is of primary concern in this segment, and the 500L delivers a very useable 99.7 cu-ft of volume (according to the EPA). Cars like this Fiat are targeted at younger families with one or two children. Does it deliver the goods?

2014_fiat_500L_hatch_openIt has a high ceiling that can accommodate the tallest of moms and dads. The legroom is also plentiful for a car with relatively small exterior dimensions. There is enough space for all kinds of child seats: rear facing, toddler, or boosters. The child seat anchors are easy to locate. The cargo area is not as cavernous as the passenger compartment, but still holds 23.1 cu-ft of stuff. The hard trunk floor liner can be turned into a shelf by using the handy side mounts. Installing the shelf reveals the subwoofer and the air compressor below (there is no spare tire in this model). There is enough space down there for a couple of umbrella strollers or smaller bags.

2014_fiat_500L_engine_motorFuel economy is another major point of contention. The 500L borrows the 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder from the sporty 500 Abarth. The engine is slightly detuned to produce 160 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The tester came with a 6-speed manual transmission, which is very refreshing in this day and age. You can also get a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

If you know your manual transmissions, then you will note the longer throws and somewhat rubbery feel of this 6-speed unit. Still, this transmission is easy to get used to and makes for an engaging driving experience. I would pick it over the automatic transmission option, which adds $1,350 to the bottom line.

2014_fiat_500L_wheelsThere is very noticeable turbo lag below 2,500 rpm. If you keep the revs above that level, this is actually a fun driving car. It also does not have a lot of torque down low. The engine is perfectly fine for efficient highway cruising between 65 and 75 mph, but if you meet a large hill (plentiful in Colorado) – you will find yourself quickly downshifting to fourth or even third to maintain speed. The spacing between gears is small, so it’s prudent to downshift from 6th directly into 4th to keep the revs on the uphill. Still, the little engine has enough grunt to get you over the top. Turbocharging is very useful at higher elevations.

2014_fiat_500L_steering_wheelI averaged 29.1 mpg after a week of mixed driving. This setup does not really like slow stop-and-go driving in terms of efficiency. However, it makes up for it on highway stints. I did the first half of the week in city traffic and averaged in the lower 20s MPG. However, the couple highway trips over the weekend pushed the average to nearly 29.1.

The 500L is not about road feel or cornering performance. It’s OK for an economy car. The car is small enough to still be fun to dart in and out of traffic. If you are looking for a sporty or performance hatchback, this is not it.

Kia Soul is the primary competitor to the 500L. The Kia has approximately the same interior space and a slightly larger cargo area. The Soul starts at $14,900, but it’s base naturally aspirated 1.6L engine produces a lesser 130 hp and 118 lb-ft of torque.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2014 Fiat 500L Pop a Buy It!

I give the 2014 Fiat 500L a TFLcar Buy It! rating because it presents a good value and family utility. My family of four (a six and a three year old) had no issues going to and from. It’s more usable than your regular five door hatchback. The 6-speed manual transmission made the trips more enjoyable.

Check out this fun and informative TFLcar video where the Fiat 500L with the automatic goes 0-60 mph at a mile above sea level.

and take a look at this First Drive TFLcar video.

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, software engineer, writer, and reporter. He has been writing and reporting at TFLcar since 2011.