Reviews

2018 Fiat 500L Introduction

Far different from the fetching little Fiat 500 hatchback coupe and sliding-roof convertible, the Fiat 500L is a tall compact wagon. Launched as a 2014 model, it’s sometimes considered a five-door hatchback, with a design and character all its own. A number of modifications and updates have taken place for the 2018 model year.

Front and rear fascias have been redesigned on the 2018 Fiat 500L, with updated wheels, bodyside moldings, and daytime running lights installed. A rearview camera is now standard.

Inside is a new digital instrument cluster. Fiat has rearranged the central console, fir 2018m along with revising the gearshift and parking brake levers. The steering wheel is new, including auxiliary controls, and ambient LEDs illuminate the cabin. An updated Uconnect 4 infotainment system with 7.0-inch touchscreen is newly standard. So are Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

Fiat offers three 500L trim levels: base Pop, midlevel rugged-look Trekking, and high-end Lounge.

All use a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine, developing 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. All use a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.

Manufactured in Serbia, the 500L boasts abundant interior room, augmented by tall-wagon practicality. Each wagon gets a proper group of standard features, including steering-wheel controls, cruise control, air conditioning, a sliding rear seat, and a tilting/telescopic steering column.

The most distinctive 500L is the Trekking edition, featuring design details that suggest rugged off-roading, even if actual beyond-pavement touring isn’t an option. Flared wheel wells wrap around 17-inch wheels, and the upholstery is accented in brown and black.

Except for the newly standard rearview camera, advanced electronic safety systems are absent, though rear parking sensors are optional. At least, outward visibility is outstanding through three big side windows.

The optional dual-pane sunroof can flood the cabin with brightness.

In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 500L earned Good crashworthiness ratings, except for a Poor score in the tough small-overlap frontal crash test.

Plenty of options are available, including a contrasting-color roof, with many grouped into collections of common options at a discounted price.

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