2014 Fiat 500L: Stylish, Room For Five, Starts Below $20,000

May 28, 2013

Considering the Kia Soul, MINI Countryman, or Nissan Juke? You might want to hold out another few weeks as there'll soon be another strong rival to throw in the mix: The new Fiat 500L begins arriving to dealerships this next month, and it's now been very competitively priced against those models.

The fashionable 2014 Fiat 500L will start below the $20,000 mark.

And perhaps most importantly, it's more than just the little Fiat 500, stretched out a few inches in length. This is actually a different car entirely—with four doors, seating for five and, at least in part, different underpinnings.

Fiat has boasted that the 500L is a full-size car by EPA standards, even though it's still a subcompact if you go by its parking footprint. It's just 163 inches long, but that's 23 inches longer than the Fiat 500.

Power is provided by a 160-horsepower version of the 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine, delivered with a standard six-speed manual gearbox; all versions have front-wheel drive for now, but we wouldn't rule out an all-wheel drive option in the future.

We haven't driven the 500L yet, but with the 160-hp engine and a chassis borrowed from the sporty Fiat Punto hatchback—and details like Koni frequency-selective damping front struts and rear shocks—we're expecting an engaging driving experience.

So how does the $19,900 500L match up against the Kia Soul or the MINI Countryman? Price-wise, the Soul is still the value leader here, with a starting price of $15,175. Even a top-of-the-line 'Soul!' with the Premium Package (leather, heated seats, automatic climate control, nav, push-button start) totals just $23,175.

The MINI Countryman costs quite a bit more, though—and you don't get as many features. The base front-wheel-drive 2013 Countryman runs $22,700, and just getting the ALL4 all-wheel-drive version steps up to $28,000.

We'd also throw the Nissan Juke in as a competitor; it starts in the same range--$21,070, running up to $27,730 for a top-of-the-line 2013 Juke SL AWD.

The 500L is offered in Pop, Easy, Trekking, and Lounge models. At the base level, the 500L Pop includes air conditioning, cruise control, a trip computer, steering-wheel controls, tilt/telescopic steering adjustment, and a multi-position cargo-area panel. Six-speaker sound is also included, with the Uconnect 5.0, offering a five-inch touch screen, voice commands for the radio, hands-free calling, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a media hub with USB and aux-in ports.

The so-called Fiat 500L Easy adds 16-inch alloy wheels (replacing the steel wheels in the Pop), plus tinted rear glass, a front-seat center console and armrest, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, special cloth upholstery, a vinyl-wrapped instrument panel, and 520-watt sound. Above that, Trekking models add lots of 'rugged' appearance extras, including special wheel moldings, larger 17-inch wheels, fog lamps, and two-piece front and rear fascias, plus a unique-to-the-model, two-tone black/brown interior with low-back bucket seats.

Lounge models are at the top of the line, at $24,995, and they include power heated leather seats, driver lumbar adjustment, split-folding rear seatbacks with rear fore-aft adjustment (and recline/tumble), fog lamps, and a dual-zone climate control system—plus the Euro Twin Clutch six-speed automatic transmission.

For the 500L's first year, there's more value. All models but the Pop will be optioned up with the Premier Package—otherwise $1,700 but included for free in the 2014 500L. It includes ParkSense rear park assist, a rear backup camera, and the larger-screen Uconnect 6.5 system (including an SD card reader and text-message reader).

Catch all the latest information, as well as driving impressions and other details, by visiting our review pages on the 2014 Fiat 500L.

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(c) 2013, High Gear Media.

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